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

The short answer is yes and no, depending on your age. Helmets are mandatory in Alaska for anyone aged 15 and under when riding a bicycle in a public space including roads, trails, pavements, pathways, car parks and skate parks. Failure to wear a helmet will result in a warning for a first offence, and a fine of USD $25.00 for subsequent offences.

Although people aged 16 and over aren't legally required to wear a helmet, not wearing one poses a significant risk. Wearing a helmet can make a huge difference in the unfortunate event you're involved in an accident. They help prevent fatalities and protect your head from brain injuries if you fall or get knocked over. As the proverb goes, it's better to be safe than sorry.  

Wearing a helmet is mandatory on all Intrepid cycling tours. If you need to buy one before your trip, it's best to go to a bicycle shop where the shop assistants can help you find a helmet that fits your head properly. This is important, as helmets are most effective when they fit properly. As a general rule, it should feel snug, not tight, and also cover your forehead (note: you should never wear your helmet tilted).

Alaska cycling rules

When riding a bicycle in Alaska, these are some of the rules you need to follow:

  • Cyclists must abide by the same rules as drivers of motor vehicles – i.e. pedestrians always have right of way, and always ride on the right side of the road and in the same direction as the traffic
  • In Anchorage, you must dismount and walk your bicycle over crosswalks or on busy street corners
  • Check your brakes, tyre pressure and chain before you set off
  • You must keep at least one hand on your handlebars at all times
  • Wear reflective clothing and headlights, especially if you're cycling at dawn and dusk
  • Use the right hand signals – e.g. to indicate when you're turning or stopping

Encountering wildlife in Alaska

One of the amazing things about Alaska is the abundant wildlife, particularly big animals like bears, bison and moose. It's not uncommon to encounter wildlife while you're cycling on the roads or trails, so it's important to be vigilant and keep your eyes peeled. Wear reflective gear and make sure your bike has a bell to ring in case you encounter wildlife as it encourages them to move along.

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