Transportation

Senator calls for mandatory helmets for California cyclists

A bicycle rider wears a hood to stay dry from the rain on Sun., Nov. 30, 2014, in Sacramento.
A bicycle rider wears a hood to stay dry from the rain on Sun., Nov. 30, 2014, in Sacramento. rbyer@sacbee.com

A California state senator says she wants to require all bicyclists to wear helmets for their safety.

Sen. Carol Liu on Wednesday announced a bill, SB 192, that will require bicycle riders to wear helmets or face a $25 fine.

“Any responsible bicycle rider should wear a helmet,” Liu said in a press statement. “This law will help protect more people and make sure all riders benefit from the head protection that a helmet provides.”

Liu’s nephew, Alan Liu, was killed in 2004 by a drunk driver while riding in Sonoma County. Liu was wearing a helmet.

California has had a mandatory helmet law since 1994 for anyone under 18. Liu’s bill also would require cyclists to wear reflective clothing when cycling at night.

Liu, in a press statement, cited a National Conference of State Legislatures report saying that 91 percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 reportedly were not wearing helmets. No states require helmets for adults, according to Liu’s press release.

Dave Snyder, head of the California Bicycle Coalition, said his group just learned of the bill and has not talked to Liu yet, but hopes to encourage her to look for other ways to improve cycling, instead of requiring helmets.

“We think she has good intentions,” Snyder said. “We know that the most important thing to protect people who ride bikes is to get more people out there riding bikes. Forcing people to wear crash helmets when they ride is counter productive to that goal.”

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.

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