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Bicycle Laws in Louisiana: Helmets

An Exploration of State and Local Laws Concerning Bicycles and Their Use

Do I have to? Yes

Louisiana law requires a bicycle operator or passenger under the age of twelve years to wear a bicycle helmet when riding a bicycle.  Louisiana law also requires a passenger who weighs less than forty pounds or is less than forty inches in height to be properly seated in and adequately secured to a restraining seat.

RS 32:199

§199.  Bicycle helmets; restraining seats

A.  The following words and phrases when used in this Section shall have the meaning assigned to them:

(1)  "Approved helmet" means a bicycle helmet that meets or exceeds the following minimum bicycle helmet safety standards:

(a)  A bicycle helmet that was manufactured prior to March, 1999, shall meet or exceed the minimum bicycle helmet safety standards set by the American National Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation.

(b)  A bicycle helmet that was manufactured after March, 1999, shall meet or exceed the minimum bicycle helmet safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

(2)  "Bicycle" means a human-powered vehicle with two tandem wheels designed to transport, by pedaling, one or more persons.

(3)  "Operator" means a person who travels on a bicycle seated on a saddle seat from which that person is intended to and can pedal the bicycle.

(4)  "Passenger" means any person who travels on a bicycle in any manner except as an operator.

(5)  "Restraining seat" means a seat separate from the saddle seat of the operator of the bicycle that is fastened securely to the frame of the bicycle and is adequately equipped to restrain the passenger in such seat and protect such passenger from the moving parts of the bicycle.

B.  With regard to any bicycle used on a public roadway, public bicycle path, or other public right-of-way, no parent, guardian, or person with legal responsibility for the safety and welfare of a child shall knowingly allow any of the following:

(1)  Such child under the age of twelve to operate or ride as a passenger on a bicycle without wearing an approved helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet.

(2)  Such child who weighs less than forty pounds or is less than forty inches in height to be a passenger on a bicycle without being properly seated in and adequately secured to a restraining seat.

C.  Notice shall be provided in accordance with the following provisions:

(1)  A person regularly engaged in the business of selling or renting bicycles shall post a sign stating the following:  "Louisiana law requires a bicycle operator or passenger under the age of twelve years to wear a bicycle helmet when riding a bicycle.  Louisiana law also requires a passenger who weighs less than forty pounds or is less than forty inches in height to be properly seated in and adequately secured to a restraining seat."

(2)  The sign must be at least twenty-four inches in length and twelve inches in width.  The lettering on the sign must be at least one inch in height.  The sign must be posted conspicuously so that it is clearly visible to all persons buying or renting bicycles.

D.  The issuance of a citation for a violation of this Section shall not be prima facie evidence of negligence.  The comparative negligence statutes of Louisiana shall apply in these cases as in all other cases of negligence.

E.  The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission shall provide funds to the Louisiana Safe Kids Coalition to be used for the purchase of bicycle helmets.  These helmets shall be distributed by the Louisiana Safe Kids Coalition to indigent persons in furtherance of the provisions of this Section.

F.  The provisions of R.S. 32:57 shall not apply to a violation of this Section.  No civil penalties or court costs shall be assessed for any violation of this Section.

Acts 2001, No. 447, §1, eff. March 1, 2002.