When I bought Clyde, there was no question in my mind that I would get a helmet at the same moment, and wear it every time I ride. I'm not so vain, nor is my hair so beautiful, that I can't bear to wear a dorky-looking hard shell on my head while I'm out on my bike.
It turns out that helmets are a wedge issue in the bike world. Some cycle-chic and slow-cycle advocates claim that helmets are a deterrent to appearance-conscious people (women and girls are usually mentioned) who might otherwise get on a bike. Fear of mandatory helmet laws drives a lot of your more gung-ho cyclists to hate helmets on principle.
There are lots of arguments out in the bike blogosphere about the relatively minor statistical value of helmets in preventing injury in bike accidents. In my mind, even the slightest statistical benefit makes the helmet worthwhile. This ain't Amsterdam
. Even in Portland, bikes are in the very-small minority on the streets. Safety from automobiles is a BIG concern.
My route to work is 75% on traffic-free neighborhood streets or bikeways. And it's spring. So today I rode 3.25 miles without my helmet, and three-quarters of a mile with, and I have to say, the helmetless part was awesome.
I felt like people could see me. I was more part of the scene. People on foot--even other cyclists--smiled at me more.
And my hair was dry when I got to work, too.