A San Gabriel Valley legislator has introduced a bill that would make riding a bicycle without a helmet against the law. State Sen. Carol Liu, D-San Dimas, whose foothills-dominated district stretches from Burbank to Upland, said her bill would require adult bike riders wear helmets.
Citations would be handed out by law enforcement officers just like traffic tickets, with fines costing up to $25, she said. Senate Bill 192 is patterned after current law in 21 states — including California — requiring anyone under 18 riding a bicycle to wear a helmet. But a helmet mandate for adult bike riders would be the first of its kind in any state.
“Any responsible bicycle rider should wear a helmet,” Liu said. “Most people do. It is a no-brainer.”
Liu said she has had two tragedies involving family members riding bicycles. “One died and the other is a paraplegic,” she said. “I see this as a health and safety issue.”
Injuries from bicycle traffic accidents are increasing, she said. In 2012, about 14,000 bicyclists were injured in crashes, more than the 11,760 hurt in 2008, according to California Highway Patrol statistics provided by Liu.
Statistics support wearing helmets while bike riding, she said. Of those bicyclists killed in 2009, 91 percent were not wearing helmets, according to the National Conference of State Legislature, Liu’s office reported.
“If I weren’t wearing a helmet, I’d be dead,” said Claremont City Councilman Sam Pedroza, an avid bicycle rider who often rides his bike to and from work. Pedroza crashed into a parked utility truck on Arrow Highway on Aug. 31, 2011.
He sustained injuries to his face, suffered a hair fracture of his C4 vertebrae in his neck and underwent several surgeries in the months that followed. He did not have neurological damage and is fully recovered.
Read more in Steve Scauzillo’s story HELMET.