As Counsel to Professor Clyde Crashcup, I wear a helmet pretty much all the time while riding, except once in a while on a very nice day, while going a short distance at low speed. On such days, I like to let the wind whistle through my short hair. But I feel terribly conflicted about it, and I have a couple broken helmets that sit in the corner of my cycling closet at home, and when I open the door to put my bike away they chastise me in sullen silence for my nerve and stupidity. A guy who has busted four helmets in 2.5 years, two helmets in 5 months, all by running into the trees or hitting the pavement at parkway speeds, doesn't need to be riding around with an unprotected bonce. Yes, riding without a helmet is fun sometimes, but I only do it rarely because I like being able to think more than I like to enjoy the marginal bit of pleasure that cycling helmet-less adds to riding. Still, it's a nice feeling, one I wish I could enjoy more often, but one which I can't. In the end, I almost always make the choice to wear a helmet because I know it's the smart thing to do, but in the end, I want the freedom to not wear the helmet, to put on my Columbus hat and tool around. I want you to have that same freedom too - it's a personal choice, not one that should be dictated by anybody else.
Ultimately, this might leave you thinking I'm against helmets. I'm not. You should wear a helmet all the time, or almost all the time - really, it'd be a shame to die in a low speed tipover. There's better ways to go. But if you don't want to wear one, that's your business. I may call you stupid but I'll defend your right to be As Stoopid As You Wanna Be. It's a free country, mostly. What a mess of an opinion, eh?
I'm not the only one who feels conflicted about the whole matter. Here's my favorite foreign politician, British Tory Boris Johnson, on wearing a helmet whilst cycling:
Here, then, is the political position. In my efforts to do the right thing, I have ended up giving offence to both opposing factions. As soon as I started to wear a helmet, I was denounced as a wimp, a milquetoast, a sell-out to the elf and safety lobby, a man so cravenly attached to his own survival that he was willing to wear this undignified plastic hat.
As soon as I was pictured not wearing a helmet, I was attacked for "sending out the wrong signal" and generally poisoning the minds of the young with my own reckless behaviour.
The situation, my friends, is a mess. I have been convicted beyond all reasonable doubt of complete incoherence on the question of cycle helmets - and complete incoherence, therefore, is what I propose to defend.
You can see why I think highly of Boris - he's disarmingly honest.
He uses the helmet discussion to riff on a couple other issues currently tearing their way through British politics, including a particular issue that would have a lot of people in the U.S. marching in the street with pitchforks.