Bicycle Helmet Law Map

This map highlights bicycle helmet legislation around the world.

Red areas are countries or states that have an all-age mandatory bicycle helmet law. The pink areas represent countries or states that have a significant exemption (most notably a child-only helmet law or an exemption for footpath & cycle path riding – Northern Territory). Finland is shown in pink as while it has an all-age bicycle helmet law, there is no fine and it is not enforced.

Dots represent jurisdictions (city or county) in the USA where there are either all-age bicycle helmet laws (red) or significant exemptions (pink) – again, the most common one is a child only helmet law.

White areas do not have bicycle helmet laws.

Now, ignoring the fact that this is a Mercator Projection, does Australia look normal to you?

*apologies to our friends in the USA for our hand drawn state outlines.

17 Comments

  • Harvey says:

    Interesting.  Perhaps it would be even better if we could further distinguish between enforced and unenforced helmet laws, as an unenforced law doesn’t mean much.  Gathering the data may be not be so easy though, as it would require a bit of local knowledge and a subjective assessment of the degree of enforcement.

    • paulmartin says:

      Hi Harvey,

      We do know for certain that in Finland the law is not enforced (and there is no fine). I’m not sure if there are liability or insurance implications of the law though…

  • […] couple thought that countries surrounding The Netherlands had a mandatory helmet requirement, which we know is not true (see our world map). They probably believe this to be the case due to the high helmet usage rates they see there […]

  • […] Vancouver, British Columbia, a man is fighting their 15 year old mandatory bicycle helmet law. British Columbia is one of only a few provinces in Canada with such law and are for children only, with some cities […]

  • Emanuel Borsboom says:

    I think B.C. (Canada) should be red.  While we do have some exemptions (for pedicabs and Sikhs who have to wear a turban for religious reasons), they are not significant and do not apply to the vast majority of the population.  Enforcement varies by jurisdiction, but I’ve gotten stopped a few times (but managed to talk my out of a ticket in all but one case).

  • John Rawlins says:

    Interesting map. Spain is marked in pink and in theory helmets have to be worn on roads outside of urban areas. However, while many cyclists choose to wear a helmet on these roads, I would say that enforcement is practically zero. Last summer, I cycled some 1000 km from Valencia in the south to Santiago in the north-west corner. Several traffic policemen (Guardia Civil) stopped me on the way for a friendly chat, but none mentioned the fact that I wasn’t wearing a helmet. I have never heard of anyone being stopped or fined for not wearing a helmet.

  • In Chile, sadly, we have mandatory helmet law, for all bicycle users in urban areas. There is no official helmet promotion by the government, although the news media industry loves talk about helmet use and it’s “benefits” for safe cycling. Police is very lazy on this topic, they are very few cyclist that have been fined for not wearing a helmet.

  • In Chile, sadly, we have mandatory helmet law, for all bicycle users in urban areas. There is no official helmet promotion by the government, although the news media industry loves talk about helmet use and it’s “benefits” for safe cycling. Police is very lazy on this topic, they are very few cyclist that have been fined for not wearing a helmet.

  • […] and New Zealand are with respect to their all-age mandatory bicycle helmet laws – being the only two countries in the world to have such laws and enforce them. Many good ideas have spread rapidly from Australia (for example […]

  • UpholdTheLeft says:

    The only thing worse than a pea-brained helmet law is a crew of cowardly quota-chasing jobsworths fining decent citizens for non-compliance.

  • Neil says:

    It’s good to visualise these things, and perhaps make note of where lobbying is necessary.  But doing a world map requires more research than has been done, as there’s almost certainly more ommissions than have been mentioned already.  I’ll add that Alberta (next to BC) should be pink, as there’s an under-18 mandatory helmet law.  St. Albert, Alberta (a small city) has an all-ages law.

  • Phillip says:

    In Japan, helmets are required for children, but it is rare to see any wearing one. Police don’t bother enforcing laws that they probably regard as stupid; cycling isn’t dangerous. Why go through all that paperwork?

  • Freestyle Cyclists says:

    And we have just been informed that Argentina and Columbia have all-ages helmet laws, but maybe not enforced, don’t know.

  • Morten Lange says:

    For those informing on the helmet laws in countries not correctly marked on the map : Could you provide references ( Local language sufficient, but English or another major language even better ). Or update the Wikipedia-article (linked to above) directly, including the reference

  • nigeltheoutlaw says:

    This is hands down the stupidest thing I have ever read. Like, beyond Down Syndrome level of retarded.

  • If a helmet can cause rotational brain injury in the event of a serious accident, as suggested by brain trauma researchers, then compelling children to use them on the road would violate section s326 of the Queensland criminal code. Because the helmets prevent the use of a recommended sun hat there is another reason compulsion is unlawful
    Deaths from melanoma have more than doubled over a decade in spite of increased sunscreen use. I never paid the fines for resisting arrest and assaulting the police when they tried to force me off the road and the courts never pursued me because I showed them I know the law.

  • […] Vancouver, British Columbia, a man is fighting their 15 year old mandatory bicycle helmet law. British Columbia is one of only a few provinces in Canada with such law. His position is quite […]

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