Mandatory Helmet Bill Is Gutted: Now Asks for Study

Now Damien doesn't have to burn this picture. Photo: Gary Kavanagh

Now Damien doesn’t have to burn this picture. Photo: Gary Kavanagh

The mandatory bicycle helmet bill, Senator Carol Liu’s Senate Bill 192, has been dropped—or rather amended. Instead of requiring bicyclists to wear helmets, it calls on the Office of Traffic Safety to conduct a study of bicycle helmet use.

Liu’s office released a statement, first reported by former Streetsblog San Francisco editor Bryan Goebel, explaining the decision.

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.

This is good news, on many fronts. There is no more threat of a mandatory helmet bill, which would have had all kinds of unintended consequences for bicycling in California. The silly requirement for bicyclists to wear high-visibility gear after dusk is also gone. And a study of bicycle helmet use may actually get people to stop harping on the subject of helmetless bicyclists.

“CalBike asked her to pull the bill,” said Dave Snyder, of the California Bicycle Coalition. “I think [Senator Liu] expected more support from the bicycle community, but instead she got near unanimous opposition.”

Another possible benefit of a study of bicycle  helmet use: this could be the right time to revisit the unhelpful youth helmet law.