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Washington State Bicycle Helmet Laws

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on June 13, 2016

The popularity of bicycling in Washington has continued to grow. Did you know that Washington was named #1 “Bicycle Friendly State” by the League of American Bicyclists for the 7th consecutive year? In efforts to promote and educate the public regarding bicycle safety, the Department of Transportation developed an initiative titled “Safer People – Safer Streets.”

Based on their recent data, the number of injuries and fatalities which occur annually that specifically involve pedestrians and bicyclists is currently approaching an average of 400. The Safer People – Safer Streets program has compiled a detailed plan of action for addressing the issues of bicycling safety. Some of the top priorities are as follows:

  • To improve and require better collection of data and information when crashes occur. In order to accurately assess and analyze incidents state-wide, the post-accident data must be consistently collected. Additionally, the data gathered and documented needs to be based on a uniform set of criteria, across all jurisdictions. In order to accurately determine the needed funding and resources, it is critical that statistics and data clearly define the scope of the problems.
  • Building a dedicated and focused team of bicycle and pedestrian accident authorities in each of the state’s regions. This will require a minimum of one full-time employee that is empowered and held accountable to implement and ultimately achieve the goals of the program.
  • To determine effective and economical solutions to integrate bicycle and pedestrian safety plans into the many various transit networks within the state. Oversight from the state is critical here to properly guide and enforce the plans across the broad range of agencies.

Washington Helmet Usage and Laws

The Washington State Department of Transportation is strongly encouraging the use of helmets when cycling. Here are the key details of the helmet action plan:

  • When a bicycle enters Washington’s roadways they are classified as a vehicle; therefore, bicyclists are required to recognize and adhere to the same rules that apply to drivers of motor vehicles.
  • A critical related issue is that headphones should never be worn when traveling on a bicycle.
  • Currently the State of Washington does not have a helmet-related law; however, the individual municipalities create and enforce their own set of bicycle helmet laws.

Locations requiring helmet usage for all bicycle riders: Aberdeen, Bainbridge Isl., Bremerton, DuPont, Eatonville, Fircrest, Gig Harbor, Kent, King County (includes Seattle), Lynnwood, Lakewood, Milton, Pierce County, Port Angeles, Port Orchard, Puyallup, Renton, Spokane, Steilacoom, Tacoma, University Place, Vancouver, WA Military Installations.

Location requiring helmet usage for riders under 18 years old: Poulsbo

Location requiring helmet usage for riders under 17 years old: Orting

Our locally-based Seattle bike accident lawyers have the know-how to get you the compensation that you deserve. Perhaps you were involved in an auto accident due to a driver’s negligence behind the wheel? Have you lost a loved one because of another’s careless behavior? Call Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. today at (888) 228-3860.

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