A Quick Look At US Bicycle Helmet Laws

Wondering whether the law requires you or your children to wear a helmet when cycling?

Take a quick look at US bicycle helmet laws, find out if they’re required in your state, and learn why wearing one is a good idea.

Overview of US Bicycle Helmet Laws

Currently, the US does not have a federal law that requires riders to wear bicycle helmets. This means you need to look at the laws in your state, city, or locale, or in the area in which you plan to go cycling.

Since 1987, 21 states and the District of Columbia have adopted state-wide helmet laws. Of the remaining 29 states without state-wide laws, 16 have individual localities with local ordinances that apply to all or to some cyclists.

Who Is Required To Wear A Bicycle Helmet?

Let’s see who is required to wear a bicycle helmet in the states and other localities with the relevant laws.

State-Wide Helmet Laws

No US state requires adults to ride a bicycle without a helmet. The state-wide laws that have been adopted are aimed at children and teenagers, which makes helmets for kids essential. The cut-off ages vary.
That said, there are good reasons for adults to consider wearing one of the best bicycle helmets when riding. We’ll explain more about that below.

  • In Alabama, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and Tennessee, all bike riders under the age of 16 must wear a helmet when riding.
  • According to the California bicycle helmet law, all cyclists under the age of 18 must wear a helmet. The law also requires passengers aged 5 years and under to wear helmets. The law also applies to skateboarders and in-line skate riders aged 18 and under. We’ve got some cool helmets for cyclists, skateboarders, and in-line skaters.
  • In Connecticut, all riders under the age of 16 must wear a helmet. The state’s law also requires e-bike riders of all ages to wear a bicycle helmet.
  • The laws in Delaware and New Mexico require all bike riders under 18 years old to wear helmets.
  • In Louisiana and Pennsylvania, riders under the age of 12 must wear helmets.
  • Massachusetts’ law requiring helmets applies to bike riders under 17 years old and to passengers under the age of 5.
  • In New Jersey, riders under age 17 must wear a helmet.
  • New York state’s helmet law applies to cyclists under 14 years old and to passengers aged 5 and under.
  • In West Virginia, all riders under the age of 15 must wear a helmet.

Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming do not have state-wide laws that require riders to wear helmets.

Local Government Laws

In some cities and localities, riders of all ages must wear a bicycle helmet, regardless of whether there are state-wide laws or not. Those cities and localities include:

  • Alabama: Montevallo and Homewood
  • California: Chico (Bidwell Park)
  • Illinois: Chicago (the law only applies to messengers)
  • Kentucky: Louisville (Extreme Park)
  • Maryland: Sykesville
  • Michigan: Kensington (Metropark)
  • Mississippi: Jackson and Starkville
  • New York: Erie County parks, Greenburgh and Rockland County
  • North Carolina: Black Mountain and Boone
  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City


Why You Should Consider Wearing a Helmet

Regardless of what the law in your state, city, or locality says, wearing a bicycle helmet is a good idea. Statisticians Jake Olivier and Prudence Creighton of Australia’s University of New South Wales reviewed 40 separate studies of bike helmet use from around the world and made some eye-opening findings.

The studies Olivier and Creighton reviewed included more than 64,000 cyclists in various countries. They found that the best bicycle helmets reduce serious head injury risks by almost 70%, less serious head injury risks by 51%, and the risk of fatal head injury by 65%.

There’s no doubt about it. Bicycle helmets save lives.

That’s why Melon Helmets has a wide range of adults, teens, and kids helmets to keep everyone’s head safe.