Oregon's Bicycle Helmet Law
Oregon has a mandatory bicycle helmet law for riders under 16 years of age. What that means is that if a child is 15 or younger they are required to wear a helmet if they are riding their bicycle on a highway (Oregon’s term for any public street, not just a major thoroughfare) or on “premises open to the public” which would include publicly owned parking lots, where motor vehicles are allowed, but would not include parks and multi-use paths because they are not open to cars. The law applies to sidewalks, though, because sidewalks are a "portion of the highway" under Oregon law.
The law also applies to children riding as passengers on another person’s bicycle.
If a child is caught riding without a helmet the fine is $25. If the child is 11 years or younger the fine is levied against their parent or another adult legally responsible for the safety and welfare of the child. The adult does not have to be present with the child to be cited.
If the child is 12 to 15 years old, the child can be cited. However, their parent can also be cited under a separate violation called Endangering bicycle operator or passenger.
If the citation is the first offense for child or adult they can avoid the fine (but not the conviction) by demonstrating to the court that they have acquired a helmet.
The only exception to the helmet requirement is if the wearing of the helmet would violate a religious belief or practice of the child.
Charley Gee is a personal injury attorney in Portland, Oregon. He exclusively represents injured people against insurance companies and corporations and focuses his practice on people injured while walking, running, riding their bicycles, or working.
Thank you to Kara Bredahl who assisted in the research for this post.