Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Illinois Senate Bill Would Mandate Bicycle Helmets for Children

On January 21, 2010 a bill was introduced in the Illinois Senate that would require all children under the age of 16 to wear helmets while bicycling. Senate Bill 2627, were it to become law, would also require bicycle passengers weighing less than 40 pounds to travel in a bicycle safety seat. The law would make it unlawful for the parent or legal guardian "of a person below the age of 12 to permit the person to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle in violation" of either of these requirements. A person in violation of the law would be subject to a penalty "not exceeding $2".

The bill was introduced by Senator Ira I. Silverstein (D) of Springfield, Illinois who has four children of his own.

I'm all for this. A lot of parents today already require their children to wear helmets when bicycling. More than anything, this law would help compel everyone else to get on board with what seems to me to be a no-brainer. Let me anticipate commentary to this post by noting that simply strapping a helmet on your child is not enough. Children should be taught proper cycling technique and how to anticipate and avoid dangerous situations.


  1. Does the law provide for Burley style trailers?

  2. The proposed legislation does seem to permit Burley style trailers. The bill defines "bicycle safety seat" as "a seat, separate from that of the operator of the bicycle, that is fastened securely to the frame of the bicyle and is adequately equipped to restrain the passenger in the seat and protect the passenger from the moving parts of the bicycle." I think a Burley would fit that definition.

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  4. Helmets may actually kill. From the Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation's website at on the “A helmet saved my life!” webpage:

    “There is a good deal of circumstantial evidence that helmeted cyclists are more likely to crash, and data from one study [4] suggests that those wearing a helmet are more than 7 times likely to hit their heads if they do.

    “Many falls result in arm and shoulder impacts that keep an unhelmeted head just clear of the ground. A helmeted head, being twice as big and a little heavier, is more likely to hit something.

    “Another possibility concerns so-called 'risk compensation' - the tendency or willingness of people to take greater risks when they feel better protected. There is clear evidence of this, particularly amongst children, and it is quite likely to be a subconscious reaction. If people take greater risks (such as riding in places requiring a higher level of skill) due to a misplaced belief that their helmet makes them safer, they could be more likely to experience a crash.

    “The movement of a helmet or the irritation to the head that many people experience might also affect balance or concentration at a crucial moment.

    “[4] Wasserman RC, Waller JA, Monty MJ, Emery AB, Robinson DR. Bicyclists, helmets and head injuries: a rider-based study of helmet use and effectiveness. 1988. American Journal of Public Health: 1988 Sep;78(9):1220-1.”

  5. As much as I understand resisting mandatory bicycle laws, I just can't do it for minors and children. It's not really a fight I want to spend my energy on in my village, state, and country. We've already gone through our hyper-safe mentality crisis in this country, and now we're all already fat and inactive.

    That said, once you become an adult, I definitely say the choice is yours. But you still *should*.

  6. Last year I lost a friend to a horrible bicycling accident when he was killed.
    Had he signaled properly this accident may never have occurred.

    Why turning signals are not a requirement for all bikes, I'll never understand.
    I purchased mine at


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