Bicycling Safety and Bicycle Helmet Use

Bicycle crashes and improper helmet use can cause traumatic injuries.

  • There are more biking-related injuries seen in the hospital emergency departments in the United States every year than ANY other sports-related injury.
  • In the U.S., recent figures indicate that over 700 people annually are killed while biking..
  • Young adults (ages 15-24) and adults age 45 years and older are at the highest risk for bicycle-related injury and death.
Helmet Use
  • Wear a helmet. It is the most effective thing you can do to prevent head injury and death.
  • California law requires anyone under the age of 18 to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, whether pedaling or as a passenger
  • Allow your child or teen to pick out their own helmet and make sure they use it EVERY time they ride a bike
  • It is recommended that adults wear a helmet too. It is the most effective thing you can do to prevent head injury and death.
  • Proper helmet use PDF - English | Spanish
Fitting a Helmet
  • The helmet should not be tilted back but should instead cover the forehead (see illustration).
  • The helmet should fit snugly. The straps should meet right under the ears to form a Y (see illustration).
  • The strap should be tight enough that if the mouth is opened wide, it will pull the helmet downward. No more than two fingers should fit under the strap.

General Bicycle Safety
  • Ride in a straight line.
  • Ride with traffic, not against it. (Some people mistakenly think they are to bike against traffic, because it is correct to walk against traffic.)
  • Use hand signals.
  • Wear bright colors during the day and reflective materials at night.
  • If you wear headphones when biking, always leave one ear uncovered.
  • Obey traffic signs, signals, and laws. (Bicyclists share with motor vehicle drivers the roads, rights, and rules.)
  • If biking at night, CA law requires use of numerous reflectors and a front light. See details in the bike law summary linked in the Resources section below

  • Children under the age of approximately 13 are generally not able to bike safely in a public street.
  • Sidewalk riding has its own dangers. Teach children about sidewalk safety, including that driveways and intersections can be hazardous, since drivers are not typically looking for a bicyclist to be coming off a sidewalk.
  • Role model safe behavior, including wearing a helmet yourself.
  • When children are sitting on a bike seat, their feet should be able to touch the ground.
  • Teach your child to stay alert for any moving vehicle (including silent electric vehicles), to make eye contact with drivers, and other safe riding practices. (See Resources section below.)
Driver Tips
  • Bicycles do not need to stay in bike lanes,. Bikes are considered vehicles.
  • Be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
  • Enter/exit driveways slowly and carefully. Check behind your vehicle before backing up.
  • Look behind you for approaching bicycles before opening your car door.
  • Don’t honk unless necessary to avoid a collision. It may startle a bicyclist and cause a crash.

Distracted Travel

  • Put cell phones and other distractions out of sight. Whether driving or biking, CA law states: ban on handheld cell phones for all drivers and bicyclists; ban on handheld or any cell phone for drivers and bicyclists under 18; ban on texting for all drivers and bicyclists. (And remember that when walking or skating, distracted travel is also dangerous.) .









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