Cyclists who want to cruise helmet free can breath a sigh of relief. A proposed measure that would have required adult cyclists in California to wear helmets has been dropped from a bill introduced in the California State Senate. Instead, the bill has been amended to require the Office of Traffic Safety to conduct a study of bicycle helmet use.
When the bill (SB192)was first proposed by state Sen. Carol Liu of Los Angeles County it caused a backlash among cycling groups who thought it too heavy handed. As originally written, the bill which would require adult cyclists to wear helmets or pay a $25 fine. Currently, the state requires minors under the age of 18 to wear helmets while riding. The law would have applied to people biking on roads, bike paths and public trails, and would have made California the first state to require helmets for adult riders.
Lui’s office release a statement that offered the following explaination:
The bill was amended to create a comprehensive study of bicycle helmet use in California and evaluate the potential safety benefits of a mandatory helmet law. Carol believes in consensus-driven policy, and there were too many conflicting opinions about helmet use. A study will provide the data needed to guide us to the next step.
Liu’s nephew was killed by a drunk driver while riding a bicycle in Sonoma County in 2004, according to the Sacramento Bee. Her nephew was wearing a helmet at the time of the incident.
“CalBike asked her to pull the bill,” Dave Snyder, of the California Bicycle Coalition, told Streets Blog. “I think [Senator Liu] expected more support from the bicycle community, but instead she got near unanimous opposition.”
When the bill was first proposed, bike advocacy groups opposed the measure, in large part because they felt it would prevent people from riding bikes.
“Studies show that when you put a mandatory requirement in place fewer people ride bikes,” said Andy Hanshaw, executive director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. “The discussion should be about building biking infrastructure and making biking safer period. If we get more people riding, our streets will be safer. We need larger trail networks and more protected bike paths.”