TRENTON – Adults in New Jersey would be required to wear a helmet when bicycling, roller skating or skateboarding, under a bill introduced this week in the state Assembly.

Kids have had to wear a helmet during those activities since 1992, but the new proposal (A4894) extends that law to begin applying to people aged 18 and older.

The bill also extends the helmet requirement to people operating scooters, both motorized and non-motorized.

New Jersey was the first state with a helmet mandate for children, and now about half of the states have one. No state requires adults to wear a helmet on a bike or scooter.

Bill sponsor Assemblyman Reginald Atkins, D-Union, told NJ.com he introduced the bill after his wife and daughter received minor injuries in a scooter crash in Washington, D.C.

“We have laws that say you have to have a helmet for motorcycles, you have to have seat belts if you’re in a car, there’s no reason why we should not have safety precautions for scooters and bikes … to me it makes sense,” Atkins said.

Cycling advocacy groups say a helmet mandate would discourage bike riding.

“Helmet mandates are associated with drops in cycling rates, and research shows that more cyclists on the road = safety in numbers. Wearing a helmet increases safety, but mandating helmets does not,” said the NJ Bike & Walk Coalition on Twitter.

They say the way to improve bike safety is by changing how roads are designed, adding bike lanes and driving habits.

Sixteen cyclists have been killed in car crashes this year, according to State Police data. That’s on par with most recent years, though the total spiked to 25 fatalities last year.

Four of the 16 people killed in car crashes this year have been under the age of 18 and, as a result, already covered by the bike-helmet law. Eight have been age 50 or older.

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Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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