Briefing Room: Minors must wear helmets when riding their bicycles

SBPD enforces helmet and reflector laws by education, warnings and if necessary by citations

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I tried to ask this at the police station but they are temporarily closed. Hopefully you can tell me.

What’s the law about kids wearing helmets on bikes, and is it ever enforced?! Except for real little kids I rarely see helmets.

Perhaps more important, so many bikes lack lights or reflectors and they are almost invisible at night. Young people are not always careful when zooming around in the dark and I (and other people) have had some close calls while driving. Are there laws about them too? Is it ever enforced or we wait for an accident?

Thanks for your help.

Joe

PS: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Hi Joe, and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Thanks for the great question. First, just to clarify, the police station is not temporarily closed. The lobby is closed to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to our station personnel, but we are still here. There is a phone just outside the front door which will ring directly to dispatch. Dispatchers will then notify one of us and we’ll meet you at the door.

On to your question … Kids must wear helmets when they are riding bicycles. California Vehicle Code §21212(a) states (in part):

“A person under 18 years of age shall not operate a bicycle, a nonmotorized scooter, or a skateboard, nor wear in-line or roller skates, nor ride upon a bicycle, a nonmotorized scooter, or a skateboard as a passenger, upon a street, bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public bicycle path or trail unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet…”

California Vehicle Code §21201 lists the rules for lighting devices on bikes when ridden at night. A red reflector must be visible from the back, a white or yellow reflectors must be on each pedal (or the bicyclist’s shoes or ankles), a white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle.

For more details about California bicycle laws, visit: https://www.calbike.org/.

The Seal Beach Police Department does actively enforce laws pertaining to bicycles. We want to make sure all bike riders, especially kids, are safe in Seal Beach. However, enforcement can look like many different things. It does not necessarily mean writing tickets. We can and do enforce helmet and reflector laws by educating children and their parents, giving warnings, and if necessary, issuing citations.

Joe, please don’t hesitate to call us if you see kids riding without helmets in your neighborhood.

We’ll be happy to come out and have a chat with the kids and their parents. Our non-emergency number is (562) 594-7232.

Happy New Year Seal Beach! Writing this weekly column has been one of the highlights of my year.

I’m looking forward to answering many more of your questions in 2021. Please email them to us at askacop@sealbeachca.gov. Thanks and be safe!