California bill would allow Sikh motorcyclists to ride without helmets

Sacramento, CA.: Proposed legislation that would exempt those who wear religious or cultural headdresses — such as a turban or patka — from wearing helmets when riding a motorcycle has cleared the California state Senate.

Sen. Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), who introduced the bill, said he was approached by bikers in the Sikh community who said they wanted the ability to practice their religious beliefs while riding motorcycles. There are no helmets that accommodate headdresses. “They just want to be able to practice their faith without discrimination, and the Constitution allows us to do that,” Dahle said.

About 211,000 Sikhs live in California, making up nearly half of the nation’s entire community, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

The bill cleared the state Senate on Wednesday, and now heads to the Assembly. Eighteen states, including California, have adopted universal helmet laws since a federal safety penalty was repealed in 1995.

Image courtesy of Yes Punjab

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