Is Helmet Mandatory for Bicycles in the United States?

During an evening bike ride session along a local pond with one of my cousins, the topic of whether wearing a helmet is necessary came up.

Both of us decided that it would be stupid not to wear one even with the most minimum probability of getting into an accident. 

Though we were on terms on the topic as mentioned earlier, a little confusion occurred between us.

It was because neither of us knew for a fact if wearing a helmet was mandatory while riding a bicycle in the United States. 

If you’re like us and want to know the laws regarding bicycles and the compulsion of needing to wear a helmet while riding a bike, you have found the right article for you.

No, wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle is not mandatory in the United States, as the federal law enforcing the requirement of bike helmets has not been made. Although, wearing a helmet is compulsory or in more states than where wearing one is not mandatory.
Man wearing a Helmet while riding Bike (Source: Pixabay.com)

Despite wearing a helmet being an essential part of riding a bicycle, there are different laws in various states.

Why don’t we jump into the entire list and their rules among all the fifty states of the U.S.?

There are no federal laws in the U.S. requiring bicycle helmets as a mandatory option.

Though, various localities and states began adopting helmet laws in 1987. Most of these laws are limited to children under 18, but there are almost 49 all-ages laws.

Additionally, 22 states have statewide rules, and more than 201 localities have local legislation.

State Wide Bicycle Helmet Laws

Following are the states where wearing a helmet is mandatory throughout the state, along with those law approval dates and specifications of those laws.

StatesYearSpecificationsOthers
Alabama1995Mandatory for riders under 16Alabama consists of all age helmet rules in the case of e-bike.
California1994Mandatory for riders under 18California consists of statewide laws requiring kids under 18 to wear helmets while on Scooters and skateboards inline skates.
1987Mandatory for passengers under 5
Connecticut1993/1997Mandatory for kids under 16Connecticut consists of the state law requiring riders under 16 to wear helmets while on an e-bike.
District of Columbia2000/2004Mandatory for kids under 16District of Columbia requires an e-bike law for kids under 16
Florida1997Mandatory for kids under 16Similarly, Florida consists of laws requiring riders under 16 to wear a helmet while on an e-bike.
Georgia1993Mandatory for kids under 16Georgia consists of a state law requiring riders under 16 to wear helmets while on an e-bike
Hawaii2001Mandatory for kids under 16Hawaii requires an e-bike law for kids under 16
IndianaIndiana consists of laws requiring riders under 16 to wear a helmet while on an e-bike, although Indiana does not have a statewide helmet law.
Louisiana2002 Mandatory for riders under the age of 16Louisiana consists of laws requiring riders of all ages to wear a helmet while on an e-bike.
Maine1999Mandatory for riders under the age of 16Maine requires an e-bike law for kids under 16
Maryland1995Mandatory for riders under the age of 16Maryland requires an e-bike law for kids under 16
Massachusetts 1994/2004Mandatory for riders under 17 Similar e-bike rule to Louisiana.
1990Mandatory for passengers under the age of 5
MichiganMichigan consists of laws requiring riders under 16 to wear a helmet while on an e-bike, although Michigan does not have a statewide helmet law. Michigan does have local helmet laws, though.
New Hampshire2006Mandatory for riders under the age of 16Similar e-bike rule to Hawaii.
New Jersey1992/2005Mandatory for riders under the age of 17New Jersey consists of laws requiring riders under 17 to wear a helmet while on an e-bike.
New Mexico2007Mandatory for riders under the age of 18New Mexico consists of laws requiring riders under 18 to wear a helmet while on an e-bike.
New York1989Mandatory for passengers under the age of 5
1994/2004Mandatory for riders under the age of 14
North Carolina2001Mandatory for riders under the age of 16Similar e-bike rule to Hawaii.
OhioOhio consists of laws requiring riders of all ages to wear a helmet while on an e-bike, although Michigan does not have a statewide helmet law. Ohio does have local helmet laws, though.
Oregon 1994Mandatory for riders under the age of 16Similar e-bike rule to Hawaii.
Pennsylvania 1995Mandatory for riders under 12Pennsylvania consists of e-bike rules for riders under 12.
Rhode Island1996/1998/2007Mandatory for riders under the age of 16Similar e-bike rule to Hawaii.
Tennessee1994/2000Mandatory for riders under the age of 16Similar e-bike rule to Hawaii.
VirginiaVirginia consists of laws requiring riders under 16 to wear helmets while on an e-bike, although Virginia does not have a statewide helmet law. Virginia goes have local helmet laws, though.
West Virginia1996Mandatory for riders under the age of 15West Virginia consists of laws requiring riders under 15 to wear helmets while on an e-bike.
Table Showing List of States where wearing Helmet is mandatory while riding a Bicycle

Thirteen states from America have no state or local helmet legislation at all. Wearing a helmet while on a bike ride is not required, legally, for people of any age in the following states:

  1. Arkansas
  2. Colorado
  3. Idaho
  4. Indiana
  5. Iowa
  6. Minnesota
  7. Nebraska
  8. North Dakota
  9. South Dakota
  10. South Carolina
  11. Utah
  12. Vermont
  13. Wyoming

As mentioned above, almost all the states of the United States either have a state law or no laws at all. But there are many states consisting of helmet laws at the local level.

Following are the states that only consists of local or county laws but do not have a statewide helmet law:

StatesNumber of countiesAge RangesOther
Alaska5Two counties require riders under the age of 16 to wear a helmet on a bicycle. Three counties require riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet on a bike.Counties in Alaska started adopting helmet laws in 2004 with Bethel county and Kenai County.
Arizona5All five counties of Arizona require riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet.In 1993 Tucson introduced the helmet laws in Arizona.
Illinois6Three counties require riders under the age of 16 to wear a helmet on a bicycle. One state-county requires riders under the age of 17 to wear a helmet on a bicycle. One county requires riders of all ages to wear a helmet on a bicycle.Helmet laws for bicycles were first introduced in Illinois in 1997.
Kansas1Lawrence county requires riders under the age of 16 to wear a bike helmet.In 2004, Lawrence county introduced its helmet laws.
Kentucky1Riders under the age of 18 need to wear a helmet in parks in Louisville. Extreme Parks in Louisville require riders of all ages to wear a helmet.Though no local laws have been implemented in Kentucky, laws requiring riders to wear helmets in parks was introduced in 2002 
Michigan4Each of the four counties has a different age requirement, under 15, under 16, under 18, and all ages.Helmet law was introduced in East Grand Rapids in 1995 for the first time in Michigan.
Mississippi4Helmet laws were introduced in Mississippi in 2010.
Missouri3Two counties require riders under the age of 16 to wear a helmet on a bicycle. One county has multiple age requirements as per local area rules. Helmet laws were introduced in Missouri in 2001, amongst various parks and hills in St Louis.
Montana1Billings require riders under the age of 16 to wear helmets while riding in a bike.Billings introduced helmet laws in 2001.
Nevada2Both the counties in Nevada with helmet laws require riders under the age of 17 to wear helmets.In 2001, helmet laws were introduced in Duckwater.
Ohio24Eight counties from Ohio require the rider under the age of 16 to wear a helmet. The rest of the counties have age ranges from the age of 12 to the age of 19.Beachwood implemented the helmet law in 1990, for the first time in Ohio.
Oklahoma2One county requires kids under the age of 18 to wear helmets. The other one requires riders of all ages to wear a helmet.Oklahoma City introduced the helmet law in 1999 for the first time in its state.
Texas9Five counties from Texas require riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. Two counties require riders under the age of 16 and 17 to use helmets while on a bike. Two counties from Texas require riders under the age of 15 to wear a helmet.Houston introduced helmet laws in 1995 for the first time in Texas.
Virginia31All 31 counties of the U.S. require bike riders under the age of 15 to wear a helmet.Bike helmet laws were first introduced in Virginia in 1993.
Washington State35Thirty-three counties from the washing state require riders of all ages to wear a helmet. One county from Washington needs riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. One county from Washington requires riders under the age of 17 to wear a helmet.Washington State introduced helmet laws in 1993 for the first time in Des Moines.
Wisconsin1Port Washington requires riders under the age of 17 to wear helmets while riding in a bike.In 1997, Helmet laws were introduced in Port Washington, Wisconsin.
Table Showing List of States having local laws as wearing Helmet is mandatory while riding a Bicycle

Finally, if you were in such a dilemma about the compulsion of helmets in your state, I hope you find out the law in your area and act accordingly.

Even if wearing a helmet is not mandatory in your condition, I hope you realize the benefits of wearing a helmet and use them regularly for your own sake, along with your kids and your loved ones.

Read More about Bicycle Helmets

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