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California’s Bicycle Helmet Law Debate May Reignite Thanks to Latest Study

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The December 2015 edition of the journal, Injury Epidemiology , is likely to reignite a bicycle law debate that took place throughout California earlier this year. The debate centered on bicycle helmets, which are mentioned in the state’s Vehicle Code Section 21212, Subsection A through F3 as well as Penal Code Section 1463. Presently, it only impacts minors and their parents or legal guardians.

Some fractions of the government and general public would like to see the law expanded whereas others prefer it be done away with altogether. Those that push for expansion want the a fore mentioned bicycle law to include cyclists of all ages. Those opposed, generally find the bicycle law in question, meaningless. Ironically, at the crux of each side’s argument are scientific studies that have been circulating in America for decades.

As a whole, the opposing studies focus on the cause and effect of bicycle accidents as well as mention preventive measures. Some studies, like the one published in a 2015 edition of Injury Prevention indicate that mandatory or voluntary bicycle helmet use is not as effective as safety experts once believed. Others, including a 2015 piece in Emergency Medicine Australasiacite data to the contrary. As such, they are often used by proponents of bicycle laws.

So which bicycle accident studies are to be believed? Unfortunately, study veracity depends on numerous factors which many on each side of the argument tend to gloss over for argument’s sake. What both sides can agree on is to keep the portion of the bicycle law intact as it pertains to children. This consensus is largely related to the sheer volume of cycling related injuries among minors.

To learn more about the ongoing debate between opponents and advocates of California’s bicycle helmet laws, please contact us. Initial consultations with our California bicycle attorney are free.

Failure to Mandate Helmets in Bike Share Programs Linked to Increase in Head Injuries

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Cities in California that have kicked off bike- share programs must take the results of a new study very seriously. According to the study, the rate of bicycle accident-related head injuries in cities that have implemented bike-share programs has actually spiked since these programs were introduced. That is being traced to the fact that these bike-share programs don’t mandate that bicyclists who rent bicycles via the program wear helmets.

The study was conducted by a team of Canadian and American researchers who were specifically looking at the effect of bike share programs on a city’s head injury rates. They found that there was a 14% increased likelihood of suffering a head injury, in those cities where these bike-share programs have been implemented. Those injuries were serious enough for the people to require a visit to a trauma center. In control cities, where there was no comparable bike-share program, there was no such increase in bicycle-related head injuries.

The study does not prove conclusively to California bicycle accident lawyers that the bike share programs are linked to an increase in head injuries. For instance, the researchers did not analyze other factors in causing these brain injuries. For instance, the researchers did not analyze individual accidents and head injuries, and also did not know whether the persons who were involved in these accidents, were actually riding rental bicycles at the time of the accident. However, the study’s findings are intriguing, and seem to point to a possible link between the popularity of these bike-share programs, and an increased rate of head injuries.

Bike-share programs must mandate that bicyclists who rent the bicycles wear helmets. Currently, many of the programs only take nominal steps to protect bicyclists - they refer bicyclists to helmet rental facilities.


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