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Fri Jan 10, 2014, 01:33 PM

Illegal to attach to bicycle helmet?

I wanted to attach a homemade turn signal indicator to my bicycle helmet but I saw someone in a video (ironically about attaching a homemade signal indicator to your bicycle helmet) say "Never attach anything to the outside of your bicycle helmet."

I'm trying to find exactly why they said this. Is there a legal issue involved in this? Does it just void the warranty on the helmet? Is it a known danger? All of the above?

I see people who have attached cameras and headlights to helmets, even some specifically designed to be put on helmets. Why would they say that?

Thanks.

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Arrow 14 replies Author Time Post
Reply Illegal to attach to bicycle helmet? (Original post)
Shankapotomus Jan 2014 OP
NYC_SKP Jan 2014 #1
Shankapotomus Jan 2014 #2
NYC_SKP Jan 2014 #3
Shankapotomus Jan 2014 #4
happyslug Jan 2014 #5
Shankapotomus Jan 2014 #6
happyslug Jan 2014 #7
Shankapotomus Jan 2014 #8
happyslug Jan 2014 #10
Shankapotomus Jan 2014 #13
hibbing Jan 2014 #9
Shankapotomus Jan 2014 #11
Shankapotomus Jan 2014 #12
hibbing Jan 2014 #14

Response to Shankapotomus (Original post)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 01:37 PM

1. I think it's because any protrusion could impact your protection. It could grab or snag if you fall.

 

That would apply to larger objects attached to helmets more than smaller.

Your signal lights, if small LEDs, might only stick out 1/4 inch or so, right?

And:

I doubt that it's a law, but it would effect warranty, especially if you drill holes.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 01:55 PM

2. I temporarily posted a video of my set up

Last edited Sat Jan 11, 2014, 07:33 AM - Edit history (2)

I personally wouldn't feel in any danger using it. But I suppose others might differ.

Edit: I reset the accompanying video to this post to private. If any subsequent DUers to this thread are interested in seeing it, just let me know and I will repost it here. /end edit/


I will reset the video to private soon. I don't want this to be anyone else's risk but my own.

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Response to Shankapotomus (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 02:13 PM

3. Very cool! I don't think they protrude too much.

 

The light wire, especially, doesn't stick out much, but the switch and what I guess are battery compartments do a bit more.

In any event, I'd say it's an assumed risk that is yours to take and not something that would cause others harm.

And it's nothing like the protrusion a mounted GoPro camera would create.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 02:27 PM

4. Thanks for your feedback!

I'll leave the video up a little longer should anyone else wish to chime in.

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Response to Shankapotomus (Original post)

Sun Jan 12, 2014, 03:31 AM

5. This depends on what state law applies

 

And if your state has addressed it as a problem. As a general rule, unless there is a law to the contrary,you can do with your head gear as you see fit. Now, the maker of the head gear can say it will not guarantee what happens to you if you do attach anything to the helmet, but that is up to contract law and that is again state dependent.

In simple terms, the only people who MAY know AND give you an opinion would be your state department of transportation, contact them for information on adding a light to your helmet.

Now many States regulate lights on MOTORCYCLES Helmets on the grounds they do NOT want such cyclist to blind oncoming cars by looking in the direction of the on coming cars. Headlights on cars and Motorcycles are regulated as to which direction their shine light so to minimize light that may blind an on coming vehicle. Since you can NOT regulate where someone may turn his head, lights are just NOT permitted on motorcycle helmets. These bans often come under Spot Lights in Cars laws.

How these laws affect bicyclists is anyone guess, but the purpose of these laws is to prevent anyone from blinding a driver and causing an accident. Thus any light from a bicycle, including but NOT limited to a helmet mounted light, would also be banned under those same laws. Most bicycle lights are NOT that bright but in the right combination capable of blinding a driver and thus may be banned under a general law banning lights on vehicles (which includes bicycles) unless approved AND banning lights on helmets or above a certain height on a vehicle. Check your state department of transportation to see if your state has adopted any rule and if they say no, be careful anyway, for they may be in error as to their own state law.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #5)

Sun Jan 12, 2014, 07:03 AM

6. I feel like I should have done my homework

after such a thorough and helpful response now. Obviously, I'm kind of a noob. Sometimes you don't know where or how to search for such information. My state's (NJ) website's has the most basic and mundane info on bike law. Nothing available seems to go into any similar detail on helmet lights. Certainly, not the 'whys' you have suggested.

I feel I have a better handle on the issue than previously. Thanks. I'm beginning to sense there is just no optimal way to make a bike as visible as a car using lights because there is a danger of blinding drivers. Reflective accessories and possibly those new bicycle lasers might be the better option.

Even better is to not ride at night, advice I plan follow. All this is just to have the right night time gear if I ever get stuck out riding after sunset.

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Response to Shankapotomus (Reply #6)

Mon Jan 13, 2014, 12:48 AM

7. More on New Jersey Bicycle law:

 


http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/bike/regulations.shtm

At least New Jersey has published its own laws on the Web, My home state of Pennsylvania refers people to West Publishing Company (and then limits how often you can use it).

Title 39 is the "regulations" (I know it should be "Law" or "Statutes" but for some reason New Jersey calls its Motor Vehicle Code "MOTOR VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC REGULATION".

Title 39, Article 3, Chapter 4 covers bicycles in New Jersey (also cited as 39-4-10:

http://lis.njleg.state.nj.us/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=138881&Depth=2&depth=2&expandheadings=on&headingswithhits=on&hitsperheading=on&infobase=statutes.nfo&record={E83C}&softpage=Doc_Frame_PG42

Title 39:3-61.1 states the restrictions on lights on MOTOR VEHICLES

http://lis.njleg.state.nj.us/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=138881&Depth=2&depth=2&expandheadings=on&headingswithhits=on&hitsperheading=on&infobase=statutes.nfo&record={E83C}&softpage=Doc_Frame_PG42

Any light is permitted if it is below 72 inches and above 15 inches from the ground.

Motocycle light helmets are set in 39:3-76.7:

http://lis.njleg.state.nj.us/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=138881&Depth=2&depth=2&expandheadings=on&headingswithhits=on&hitsperheading=on&infobase=statutes.nfo&record={E83C}&softpage=Doc_Frame_PG42

9:4-10. Lights and reflectors on bicycles
Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front, and with a lamp on the rear which shall emit a red light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the rear. In addition to the red lamp, a red reflector may be mounted on the rear, of a type approved by the division which shall be visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.

Amended by L.1951, c. 23, p. 70, s. 11.

39:4-10.1 Bicycle helmets, requirements.


1. a. A person under 17 years of age shall not operate, or ride upon a bicycle as a passenger, unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet which meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z90.4 bicycle helmet standard) or the Snell Memorial Foundation's 1990 Standard for Protective Headgear for Use in Bicycling. This requirement shall apply to a person who rides upon a bicycle while in a restraining seat which is attached to the bicycle or in a trailer towed by the bicycle.

As used in this act, "bicycle" means a vehicle with two wheels propelled solely by human power and having pedals, handle bars and a saddle-like seat. The term shall include a bicycle for two or more persons having seats and corresponding sets of pedals arranged in tandem.

b.The director shall publish a list of bicycle helmets which meet the standards described in subsection a. of this section and shall provide for its distribution in as many locations frequented by the public as the director deems appropriate and practicable.

c.The requirement in subsection a. of this section shall apply at all times while a bicycle is being operated on any property open to the public or used by the public for pedestrian and vehicular purposes; however, a municipality may by ordinance exempt from this requirement a person operating or riding on a bicycle as a passenger when the bicycle is operated:

(1)on a road or highway closed to motor vehicle traffic and limited to pedestrian or bicycle use at all times or only during specified periods of time during which bicycles may be operated; or

(2)exclusively on a trail, route, course, boardwalk, path or other area which is set aside for the use of bicycles or for the use of pedestrians and bicycle operation is not otherwise prohibited. However, an exemption may not be granted under this paragraph for any portion of a trail, route, course, boardwalk, path or other area which is immediately adjacent to a road or highway used by motor vehicle traffic and which does not contain a barrier of sufficient height and rigidity to prevent the inadvertent or deliberate entry of a bicycle operator onto the road or highway.

d.An ordinance enacted pursuant to subsection c. of this section shall specify those roads, highways, trails, routes, courses, boardwalks, paths or areas within the municipality where helmets are not required during the operation of a bicycle.

e.When a bicycle is being operated in an area where bicycle helmets are not required, the operator or a passenger, except a passenger in a restraining seat or trailer, shall dismount from the bicycle and walk whenever it is necessary to enter a crosswalk or to cross a road or highway upon which motor vehicle traffic is permitted.

L.1991,c.465,s.1; amended 1997, c.411, s.10; 2005, c.208, s.1.

39:4-10.2 Violations, warnings, fines; "Bicycle and Skating Safety Fund."

2. a. A person who violates a requirement of this act shall be warned of the violation by the enforcing official. The parent or legal guardian of that person also may be fined a maximum of $25 for the person's first offense and a maximum of $100 for a subsequent offense if it can be shown that the parent or guardian failed to exercise reasonable supervision or control over the person's conduct. Penalties provided in this section for a failure to wear a helmet may be waived if an offender or his parent or legal guardian presents suitable proof that an approved helmet was owned at the time of the violation or has been purchased since the violation occurred.

b.All money collected as fines under subsection a. of this section and subsection a. of section 2 of P.L.1997, c.411 (C.39:4-10.6) shall be deposited in a nonlapsing revolving fund to be known as the "Bicycle and Skating Safety Fund." Interest earned on money deposited in the fund shall accrue to the fund. Money in the fund shall be utilized by the director to provide educational programs devoted to bicycle, roller skating and skateboarding safety. If the director determines that sufficient money is available in the fund, he also may use, in a manner prescribed by rule and regulation, the money to assist low income families in purchasing approved bicycle helmets. For the purposes of this subsection, "low income family" means a family which qualifies for low income housing under the standards promulgated by the Council on Affordable Housing pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-301 et seq.).

L.1991,c.465,s.2; amended 1997, c.411, s.11.

39:4-10.3 Posting of sign required; violations, penalties; renters required to provide helmet; immunity.

3. a. A person regularly engaged in the business of selling or renting bicycles shall post a sign at the point where the sale or rental transaction is completed stating: "STATE LAW REQUIRES A BICYCLE RIDER UNDER 17 YEARS OF AGE TO WEAR A HELMET." The size of the sign shall be at a minimum 15 inches in length and 8 inches in width. This notification requirement shall not apply to a seller when a bicycle is sold through the use of a catalog or brochure and the purchase and payment are made by mail, telephone or another telecommunications or electronic method.

A person who fails to post a sign required by this subsection within 60 days after the effective date of this amendatory act (P.L.1995, c.177) shall be subject to a penalty not to exceed $25 a day for each day the business is open to the public and the sign is not posted. The enforcement of this subsection shall be vested in the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs of the Department of Law and Public Safety, the inspectors appointed under his authority, and the police or peace officers of, or inspectors duly appointed for this purpose, by any municipality or county or by the State. Jurisdiction of proceedings to collect the penalties prescribed by this act is vested in the Superior Court and the municipal court in any municipality where the defendant may be apprehended or where he may reside. Process shall be either a summons or warrant and shall be executed in a summary manner pursuant to the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

b.A person regularly engaged in the business of renting bicycles shall provide a helmet to a person under 17 years of age who will operate the bicycle in an area where a helmet is required, if the person does not already have a helmet in his possession. A fee may be charged for the helmet rental.

c.A person regularly engaged in the business of selling or renting bicycles who complies with the applicable requirements of this section shall not be liable in a civil action for damages for any physical injury sustained by a bicycle operator or passenger who is under the age of 17 years as a result of the operator's or passenger's failure to wear a helmet or to wear a properly fitted or fastened helmet in violation of the requirements of this act.

d.Within 60 days after the effective date of this amendatory act (P.L.1995, c.177), the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety shall make a reasonable effort to notify any person who is regularly engaged in the business of selling or renting bicycles of the requirements of this section. The responsibility of a person under this section shall not be abrogated or diminished in any manner if the person fails to receive or become aware of a notice from the division.

L.1991,c.465,s.3; amended 1995, c.177; 2005, c.208, s.2.

39:4-10.4. Rules, regulations


4. The director, in accordance with the provisions of the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), shall promulgate rules and regulations which may be necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act.

L.1991,c.465,s.4.

The Statutes then includes laws in regards to Skateboards and other non motorized users of highways, but remember 39:4-14.3t


39:4-14.3t. Violations; fine


Except as otherwise provided by this act, a person who violates any of the provisions of this act or any rule or regulation promulgated pursuant to this act shall be subject to a fine of not more than $ 100.00 for each offense.

Reading the New Jersey Statutes on Bicycle, almost make the Pennsylvanian Laws look good (and given how bad PA's law is, gives you an idea of how badly the New Jersey law is written).

New Jersey mixes in Skateboards and Motorized bicycles with the law on bicycles, something Pennsylvania does NOT do, but both require any bicycle with any engine attached to it, be registered with the state as a licensed motor vehicle:

39:1-1 is the list of Definitions for the Statutes:

"Motorized bicycle" means a pedal bicycle having a helper motor characterized in that either the maximum piston displacement is less than 50 cc. or said motor is rated at no more than 1.5 brake horsepower or is powered by an electric drive motor and said bicycle is capable of a maximum speed of no more than 25 miles per hour on a flat surface.

The term next shows up in 39:4-14.3.:

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Response to happyslug (Reply #7)

Mon Jan 13, 2014, 08:41 PM

8. whoa!

That will cover me for awhile! Thanks!

"Any light is permitted if it is below 72 inches and above 15 inches from the ground. "

That's a very broad statement covering lights, which is odd because there must occasionally be issues with over illumination or lights with colors that provide poor visibility. And restrictions regarding what direction a light may be aimed. It's endless, really. I guess the only thing you can do, once you've followed all the rules that have been spelled out is to just ride and hope you don't run afoul of the obscure and/or unwritten ones.

Although, I suppose if it's not written down, it shouldn't carry a legal component to it.

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Response to Shankapotomus (Reply #8)

Mon Jan 13, 2014, 10:28 PM

10. Please note, that is for MOTOR Vehicles, but it gives you an idea of what is wanted.

 

I see no problem with a tail light on a helmet, provided you have another one on the bike itself. The reason for the light on the bike is for people behind you to see you if your head is turned.

You should also have a headlight on the bike.

Now, I have used various headlights on my helmet alone with taillights. Headlights are great at night when you hear something in the trees and want to see what it is. If you wear a headlight remember NOT to point it into on coming cars. You can blind a driver and THAT may be deadly to YOU.

Presenty I am using a Schmidt SON generator for my front light and taillight. 20 years ago when I first started to use a Generator, they were heads and feet over other headlights. The Schmidt SON has about the same resitence as an Shimano XT front hub and can provide power all night long. Expensive, but if you do any extensive riding at night still worth the money.

On the other hand, LED headlights last a good while, unlike Candescent lights that lasted one to two hours with a heavy battery pack (I use to have a Nite rider Light, the battery was heavy, in many ways to heavy to put on a helmet, but the light, on the helmet could brighten up a road way). When I had a Nite Rider it was before their embraced LED lights. With their embrace of LED lights, batteries are lighter and the lights are brighter. One of these days I wil get another ( I do have a problem with the name "Nite Rider", I am old enough to remember when that name did NOT mean a good things to African Americans).

On the other hand Nite Rider lights are very good:

http://www.niterider.com/

Peter White Wheels out of New Hamphsire is the US distributor of Schmidt SON generators:
http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/

More on the Schmidt SON:



http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/schmidt.asp


Just a comment if you put a taillight on your helmet, make sure you have a headlight and a taillight on the bike. Also, Safty studies have shown the best thing at night for a cyclists is a HEADLIGHT not a taillight, thus most states only require a HEADLIGHT at night for bicycles.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #10)

Mon Jan 13, 2014, 11:08 PM

13. Yea, a headlight is a given

and those are nice ones. Prices aren't that scary, if I'm reading them right.

Incidentally, I just saw what I think might be an informative video on finding inexpensive bicycle headlights. Not sure what the norm is but this cyclist has some interesting recommendations:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_434921909&feature=iv&src_vid=Ai7CJAgNQt0&v=AxCp3NNRmXw

Thanks

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Response to Shankapotomus (Original post)

Mon Jan 13, 2014, 09:59 PM

9. I don't know about the law but..

Helmet instructions always say not to put anything on it, not even stickers. I think this comes down to warranty or liability issue. I would love to see your set up if you want to mail a link to it.

Peace

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Response to hibbing (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 13, 2014, 10:40 PM

11. Thanks, hibing

On the more vague questions I have decided to just take a "live and let live" approach. If I can't find an answer to whether a law applies or not, I'll just use my best judgment and go for it. If they stop me, they stop me. Life is too short to worry about every minutiae of every action. If I attach something to a helmet but it still saves my ass in an accident, I'm not going to worry about the warranty.

As for the video: I just went to my YouTube account to retrieve the link for you and was hit with this message when I tried to make the link public again:

"This functionality is not available right now. Please try again later."

Must be undergoing maintenance at the mo.

If you are around tomorrow, I'll repost the video in this thread. (Maybe you'll get a chuckle from the Tron-like helmet style as I do? )

I will also check again a little later tonight. Maybe it will be available soon. I'll be up watching TDS and Colbert.

BBL











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Response to hibbing (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 13, 2014, 10:57 PM

12. Here we go --

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Response to Shankapotomus (Reply #12)

Tue Jan 14, 2014, 12:29 AM

14. Take me to your leader

Hey,
That's pretty darn cool looking, the indispensable zip ties. I always make sure I have some of those in my biking bags. Thanks for posting it for me.

Peace

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