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Protect Your Noggin’ Say California Lawmakers

You think that, as an adult, you can make your own choices about your safety. That may be true in many cases, but it may no longer be the case if you are riding a bicycle in California.

A proposed law in the state would stipulate that adult cyclists either wear a helmet or pony up the cash. The bill, SB192, would make California the first state in the nation to require a helmet to any rider over the age of 18. Choose not to wear one? Be prepared to pay a fine.

While it makes sense on the surface, bicycle enthusiasts are against forcing adults to wear helmets. Proponents of cycling have helped pass new laws that require motorists to keep safe distances from cyclists and even helped to create new bike lanes. Those same people, however, are against helmets for adults. Why? Because they fear forcing an adult to wear a helmet will have those adults foregoing cycling altogether.

Bike share companies are gaining popularity across the United States and in California specifically. While none of these companies require adults to wear helmets on their rented bikes, the companies do encourage the wearing of safety gear. Bike share companies tend to figure that if you are smart enough to operate a bike, you are smart enough to take your chances by not wearing a helmet.

The city of San Francisco has kicked off a major cycling safety campaign, pouring nearly $3 million into awareness. The money will continue to be spent on safety campaigns for at least the next few years. Bike lanes will be improved in the city and motorists will continue to be cited for not respecting the rules of the road when it comes to cyclists.

Talk to cyclist groups and that’s where the buck should stop. Making people aware of safety issues is all well and good. Forcing adults to wear helmets is not.

While cyclists may not want to be forced to do things they don’t want to do, lawmakers need to stop and ask themselves if this is a fight worth taking on. Chances are slim that the majority of adults will strap on a helmet before pedaling off. Is it a good use of police resources to cite the hundreds of people who likely won’t be following the law? Most think not.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.