US Bicycle Helmet Laws by State

Bicycle Helmet Laws by State

Photo credit Shelby L. Bell

I happen to wear a bicycle helmet every time I ride a bicycle – it seems to me that it’s just good common sense.  But if you ever find yourself in a situation without a bike helmet, here are the rules about who must wear a helmet, by state.  Local governments may have stricter laws than those regulated by the state.

 



 

Bicycle Helmet Laws by State

 

State Helmet Required by State Law Comments
Alabama Yes, for children under 16 Helmets required for cyclists of all ages in some cities and districts (including Montevallo and Homewood)
Alaska No Required for those under 18 in some cities and districts (including Anchorage, Bethel, Juneau, Kenai, and Sitka)
Arizona No Required for those under 18 in some cities and districts (including Tucson, Flagstaff, and Sierra Vista and Yuma and Pima counties)
Arkansas No Required for children 14 and under in some cities and districts (including Bentonville)
California Yes, for those under 18  
Colorado No  
Connecticut Yes, for children 15 and under The state government “strongly recommends” every bicycle operator wear a helmet
Delaware Yes, for those under 18  
District of Columbia Yes, for children under 16  
Florida Yes, for children under 16  
Georgia Yes, for children under 16 Law only applies to riding or being a passenger on a bicycle on a highway, bike path, bicycle lane, or sidewalk.
Hawaii Yes, for children under 16 Law applies only to those operating a bicycle on a street, bikeway, or other public property
Idaho No  
Illinois No Required for children under 17 in some cities and districts (including Barrington, Cicero, Inverness, and Skokie); Required for all cyclists regardless of age in Chicago)
Indiana No  
Iowa No  
Kansas No Required for children under 16 in some cities and districts (including Lawrence)
Kentucky No Required for those under 18 or all cyclists in some cities and districts (including Louisville).  Initiatives have been started to require all children under 12 to wear a helmet.
Louisiana Yes, for children under 12  
Maine Yes, for children under 16 Law only applies to public roadways and public bikeways
Maryland Yes, for children under 16 Required for those under 18 in some cities or districts (including Montgomery County) and for all ages in some cities and districts (including Sykesville)
Massachusetts Yes, for children 16 and under Law applies to public right-of-ways
Michigan No Required for those under 15 (including Adrian), those under 16 (including Farmington Hills), those under 18 (including East Grand Rapids), and cyclists of all ages (including Kensington Metropark) in some cities and districts
Minnesota No  
Mississippi No Some districts and cities require helmets, including Hernando (those under 17) and Jackson and Starkville (all ages)
Missouri No Many cities and districts require bicycle helmets for those under 17 or for cyclists of all ages including most municipalities in St. Lewis County, Columbia, and St. Charles.
Montana No Required for children under 16 by some cities and districts (including Billings)
Nebraska No  
Nevada No Required for children under 17 by some cities and districts (including the Duckwater Indian Reservation and Reno-Sparks Indian Colony)
New Hampshire Yes, for children under 16  
New Jersey Yes, for children under 17  
New Mexico Yes, for those under 18  
New York Yes, for children under 14 Required for those under 19 in some places (including Eastchester), those under 18 (including Onandaga County, Syracuse, and Suffolk County), and those of all ages (including Erie County, Greenburgh, and Rockland County)
North Carolina Yes, for children under 16 Required for cyclists of all ages in some cities and districts (including Black Mountain and Boone)
North Dakota No  
Ohio No Required for those under 16, under 14, under 18, under 17, under 19, under 13, under 15, under 12, and over 5 in some cities and districts
Oklahoma No Required for those under 18 in some cities and districts (including Norman) and for all cyclists in other areas (including Oklahoma City)
Oregon Yes, for those under 16  
Pennsylvania Yes, for those under 12  
Rhode Island Yes, for those 15 and younger  
South Carolina No  
South Dakota No  
Tennessee Yes, for those under 16 Parents are not allowed to knowingly allow children under 12 to not wear a helmet
Texas No Some cities and districts require helmets for those under 18 (including Arlington, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston), under 17 (including Benbrook), under 16 (including Bedford), and under 15 (including Coppell and Southlake)
Utah No  
Vermont No  
Virginia No Most counties require all children 14 and younger to wear a helmet
Washington No Many cities and districts require helmets for cyclists of all ages
West Virginia Yes, for children under 15 Some cities and districts require helmets for those under 18 (including Clarksburg and South Carleston) or for cyclists of all ages (including Morgantown)
Wisconsin No Required for those under 17 in some cities and districts (including Port Washington)
Wyoming No  

 

Of course, it is always better to wear a bicycle helmet whenever you are operating a bicycle.

 

Note that local governments may have ordinances differing from those stated here.  When in doubt, contact the town or district directly for the specific laws governing that region.

 

*Note that this is for information, not legal, purposes only.  I cannot be held responsible for the information provided here.*