Napa Valley is one of the most picturesque places to cycle in California. Plus, you have the added bonus of having over 400 wineries at your fingertips. There's nothing better than quenching your thirst with a glass of wine after a big day of exploring the region on two wheels. But before you start planning your cycling trip, it's important to know what your legal obligations are as a cyclist, including whether or not you need to wear a helmet. There is no federal law in the United States for wearing a helmet when cycling, but some states are more relaxed about this than others. 

Do you legally have to wear a helmet when cycling in Napa Valley?

If you're wondering if you can legally ride a bicycle without a helmet in Napa Valley, the short answer is yes and no – depending on your age. Unlike many other states in the US where both adults and minors (under the age of 18) are not required to wear a cycling helmet, California has stricter helmet laws. All cyclists, scooterists, skateboarders and rollerskaters aged 18 and under are required by law to wear a helmet. The youth helmet law applies to riding on a public road, footpath, bikeway or trail. This requirement also applies to passengers aged 18 and under who are riding in an additional seat or trailer attached to the bike. No helmet is required for cycling on private property. Failure to wear a helmet, or wearing a helmet that is not properly fitted and/or fastened, when required will result in a $25 fine which the under-18 cyclist, the parent or guardian, or both are liable to pay. 

The exception to the rule is in Bidwell Park, El Cerrito and the city of Chico, where all bicyclists – even those aged 18 and over – must wear a helmet to comply with the law. Failure to do so may result in a fine.

Even though adults are not required to wear a helmet in Napa Valley, it is strongly advised to wear one as it can make a significant difference in the unfortunate event of an accident. Helmets help prevent fatalities and protect your head from brain injuries if you fall or get knocked off your bicycle. When it comes to staying safe on two wheels, it's always better to play it safe. 

Wearing a helmet is mandatory on all Intrepid cycling tours. If you need to buy one before your trip, we recommend popping into your local bicycle shop to get a well-fitted helmet. Helmets work best when they fit correctly. As a general rule, it should feel snug but not tight – enough to stay on your head without tightening the chin strap as you shake your head from side to side. It should also cover your forehead. 

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