It is an issue that we have talked about on TreeHugger forever and the Stranger fundamentally gets it wrong from the headline (The Stranger's Staff Argues Over Whether You Should Wear a Bike Helmet) forward; the question isn't whether you should wear a helmet (that's personal choice) it's whether there should be helmet laws that make it mandatory. They are two completely different issues that are always conflated. Nobody cares whether you wear a helmet or not. It's whether you have to that matters. It's whether cities do these idiotic ad campaigns that show squished heads and dead people and introduce legislation and generally scare people off bikes that matter. (Even their illustration is wrong, both parties are in spandex. One should be in tweed.)
I stopped wearing a helmet a couple of years ago after getting schooled by Mikael Colville-Andersen; I saw it as a political statement. That all ended on September 16 when my mom missed a step leaving a fancy lunch and smashed her head on the granite pavement; it might have been better had she died than lose so many of her marbles that she is now unrecognizable. I now wear my helmet cycling, and wish I had the nerve to wear one driving and walking, when they are statistically even more necessary.
If your answer to the dangers of traffic is a helmet, you're asking the wrong question. It's not a question of whether a helmet would make a difference if you are hit by a car or truck: That vehicle should never have hit you in the first place. We shouldn't spend our energy trying to make a collision possibly a little bit less bad when we could put our efforts into preventing that collision from happening at all.
If you get hit by a truck or squished in a right hook, the helmet is going to do nothing for you except save your family from the embarrassment of seeing the line in the paper "the victim wasn't wearing a helmet." Because really, everyone should wear one, in the street or in the car or in the shower (although that is problematic when washing hair). Make them mandatory for everyone or no one, because statistics.
Read the whole thing at The Stranger