Re: Bicycle helmets and the law
I have never needed my helmet* and hope to end my cycling days without ever having needed it. However, I wear it because, if I ever do need a helmet, I will really need it. (I always wear a leather jacket when cycling for similar reasons: I am fond of my elbows and would like to keep them.)
It may be, as some have argued, that not wearing a helmet actually confers some degree of increased safety but I would argue that a slightly reduced risk of head injury does not justify a 100% reduction in cranial protection.
The above notwithstanding, I would argue against any attempt to legislate for compulsory helmet-wearing (except possibly among children). The lack of a helmet is a convenient and obvious signifier to all other road users that a cyclist is more likely to act in a careless or stupid manner.
On the other hand, a helmet indicates a cyclist who is prepared to take personal responsibility for their own safety, and who is therefore likely to cycle carefully and take a responsible approach to road safety in general.
When overtaking another cyclist, I always give a significantly wider berth to those without helmets. Legislation would remove this handy distinction.
*Except when using the lower rank of two-level cycle storage.
Competing interests: Founder and former co-ordinator of Spokes: The NHS Cycling Network