November 25, 2020

bike light

It’s our mission to help all bicyclists — new and experienced alike — ride their bicycles more safely. This goes beyond simply strapping on a cool bike helmet, clipping on a couple of bike lights and riding off into the sunset. It also means gearing you up with the right information so you and your family are riding legally. With that, we’re putting a spotlight on Thousand’s home state of California to get a better glimpse at its bike helmet laws. 

As it turns out, the nation’s most populous state has slightly stricter bike helmet laws than others. Curious what they are? We rounded up a quick guide to the bicycle helmet laws in California below.


  • All passengers aged 5 and under; bike riders aged 18 and under; and scooter, skateboard and in-line/roller skate riders aged 18 and under are required to wear helmets.
  • Anyone aged 18 years or younger, regardless of religious belief or practice, must legally wear a helmet.
  • Adults are legally required to wear helmets at Bidwell Park in Chico, California.
  • The youth helmet law applies to riding a bicycle on a street, bikeway, sidewalk or public bike path.
  • The fine for not wearing a bike helmet is $25. 

There is no federal bike helmet law, which means mandates are set locally (read more about that here). Among the states that do enforce helmet laws, said laws typically only apply to youth bike riders and passengers. In California, anyone aged 18 and under operating a bicycle, scooter or skateboard, or using roller skates must legally wear a bicycle helmet. For adults with little kiddos, bike passengers who are aged 5 and under must also legally wear a helmet. Although it’s not legally required for adults to wear bike helmets in California (except in Bidwell Park, Chico), we strongly recommend wearing one anyway as they’re proven to protect against traumatic injury. 

 According to California Legislative Information, the youth helmet law applies to riding a bicycle on a street, bikeway, sidewalk, or public bike path. That means it’s technically legal for youth to ride a bike without wearing a helmet on private property (except sidewalks). Some states legally exempt youth from wearing bicycle helmets for religious belief or practice, but that’s not the case in California. 

At the time of this writing, the fine for getting caught not following the law is $25. Who pays it? Well, it depends on the age of the minor being ticketed. Generally speaking, a parent or legal guardian is responsible for paying the fine. Sometimes it’s both the parent or guardian and the youth rider. 

The state has a pretty cool program that provides an opportunity to turn a “wrong” into a “right” though. Those who receive a citation can return to law enforcement with an approved, properly fitted bike helmet and proof that the person ticketed attended a bicycle safety course. California offers a whopping 120 days to complete these two easy tasks; well worth it to avoid the fine and citation if you ask us. 

In the market for a new adult bike helmet? We’ve got your dome covered for all your bicycling, scootering and skateboarding needs. Browse our minimalist bike helmet options, including our new Chapter MIPS Helmet complete with MIPS technology, a magnetic rear light and a customizable visor (coming soon!). 

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