Columbus Youth Helmet Ordinance

Bicycle crashes are a common reason Columbus children are treated at a hospital for injury. Bicycle helmets can lower the risk of brain injury by up to 88 percent. However, too few Columbus youth wear a helmet every time they ride. In the city of Columbus, children younger than 18 years of age are required by law to wear a helmet when they are participating in wheeled sports.

What Does the Law Mean?

  • All kids and teens younger than 18 are required to wear a helmet while riding bicycles, scooters, in-line skates, roller-skates and skateboards in the city of Columbus.
  • The helmet must fit the child’s head and be buckled under the chin.
  • A child not wearing a helmet may be given a warning or citation (ticket) by police. The ticket may carry a fine of up to $25.

Where Can I Get a Helmet?

  • Helmets cost as little as $10 and can be found at stores throughout Columbus.
  • Some community programs offer free or discounted helmets for families who cannot afford one.

Bicycle Safety Tips

  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Ride with traffic. Stay to the right.  Do not ride into traffic.
  • Follow all traffic rules. Stop at red lights and stop signs.
  • Use hand signals to let drivers know what you plan to do.  
  • Walk the bicycle across busy streets and intersections. Look left, right, and left again before crossing.
  • Do not ride at dusk or after dark.
  • Infants younger than one year should not be passengers on bicycles. Their neck muscles may not be strong enough to control head movement during a sudden stop.
  • Children younger than 10 should ride on a sidewalk or bicycle path instead of in the street.
  • Remove helmets before climbing on playground equipment or trees.

Pick the Right Helmet

  • Let your child help pick out a helmet that he or she likes. Choose a bright color to help drivers see your child.
  • Look for the CPSC Certified label on the box.
  • Try the helmet on your child. It should be snug, but not tight.
  • If it feels too tight, try using thinner sizing pads. If it is still too tight, purchase a larger helmet.  
  • If your child is between 2 sizes, pick the bigger one. Most helmets come with extra pads to help you get a good fit.
  • The helmet should not move from side to side when your child shakes his head.
  • Replace any helmet that is damaged or that has been involved in a crash.

Fit the Helmet Correctly

  • The helmet should sit flat on top the head and rest 1 or 2 finger-widths above the eyebrows. The forehead must be covered.
  • The straps should form a “V” below your child’s ear.
  • The chin strap should be buckled snugly under the jaw. No more than 1 or 2 fingers should fit under the strap.

Impact of Our Research

In order to promote safe bicycling among Columbus children, Columbus City Council voted unanimously in July 2008 to pass the Columbus Youth Bicycle Helmet Ordinance. The law requires that children 1 to 18 wear a helmet while riding bikes and scooters, or while using skateboards, in-line skates or roller-skates.

Helmet Ordinances in Central Ohio

Many other cities and townships have or working on passing laws to protect community members.

Additional Bike Safety Resources