Currently, Washington state law does not require bicyclists to wear helmets while riding in public. That means that bicycle helmet laws are left up to individual localities on a case-by-case basis. There are 23 individual localities (cities or counties) which do have active bicycle helmet laws, in addition to all military installations throughout the state.
Below is a table listing the Washington state localities which require bicyclists to wear a helmet in public, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT):
|Bainbridge Island||All ages||2001|
|Gig Harbor||All ages||1996|
|King County||All ages||1993 (Updated in 2003)|
|Orting||Under 17 Years Old||1997|
|Pierce County (unincorporated)||All ages||1994|
|Port Angeles||All ages||1994|
|Port Orchard||All ages||2004|
|Poulsbo||Under 18 Years Old||1995|
|University Place||All ages||1996|
|All Military Installations||All ages||N/A|
Costs of Not Wearing a Bicycle Helmet
Just because the law doesn't require you to wear a bicycle helmet does not necessarily mean it's a good idea. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 90% of bicyclists killed in traffic collisions were not wearing helmets at the time of the incident.
There are also financial repercussions associated with not wearing a helmet. Not only can you be ticketed for riding a bicycle without a helmet in any of the locations listed above, but the medical costs associated with being injured in a bicycle accident are much higher if you suffer an injury to your head or brain. Ambulance rides, lengthy hospital stays, and the time of recovery is much higher in situations where a person has suffered a concussion or other form of traumatic brain injury.