From the BBC news website
On the same day this was in the news, David Cameron attracted attention by biking to work while not wearing a helmet. Is that bad? Does it mean he sets a bad example? The Guardian website asked if we, readers, think wearing a bicycle helmet should be made compulsory. (And the question has already been described as a diversion, elsewhere on the Guardian website!)
From the Guardian website. Picture: Lewis Whyld/PA
But then I thought a bit further. Maybe I should just stop being so Dutch and wear that helmet. I own one! It tends to spend its time gathering dust. I don't wear it for these few traffic-low minutes of daily commuting. It does come out for serious rides, especially those that involve 1) hollow, winding , narrow country roads with lots of blind curves 2) steep slopes.
But then the question of making it compulsory. I think the UK could do with much more biking; this nation is alarmingly unfit and obese, and biking more would lessen that. And shrouding the advantages of biking in patronising legislation might keep people from taking to this lovely activity. How many people would be saved from death by a bicycle helmet? And how many would be deterred from biking by a helmet law? And how many of these would die of obesity-related causes? And how many would not, if only they biked more? And how does that compare?
I think it might be so difficult to answer that second and third question we can never compare. But I could try asking "more or less"! If anyone has a chance of figuring this out it's them. And until that time I might ponder what would happen if you not only made the helmet, but also the bike compulsory...