In short, “yes”. Which doesn’t mean that they will save you from head injury in all circumstances, or that I think they should be made compulsory. I expect a lot more people are killed by smoking, alcohol or fizzy drinks, than by cycling without a helmet, so there’s clearly room for political judgement over where the law should enforce what is sensible.
However, in my view it is sensible to wear a cycling helmet. It is 5 weeks since my accident and its clear that I fell with enough force to break my collarbone, damage my skin on my shoulder and hip. The bone is pretty much healed, though the swelling I still have shows that repair is still underway. The scabs have gone, though scars are still visible. My bike has various scratches and, while replacing the scratched left shifter would be unnecessary expense, I probably will get a new hood. My jersey and shorts are torn, but wearable. My helmet has a minor crack and I have already bought a new one. I dread to think what the damage to my head might be if the impact hadn’t been absorbed by that helmet.
My other cycling helmet anecdote dates back about 25 years to the Yorkshire Dales. I’ll always remember Pat’s blood curdling scream as he watched helplessly as Vicky disappeared underneath the car. The feeling of helplessness as he and the rest of us ran after the car until it was stopped by the dry stone wall, with Vicky still underneath it. Then the interminable wait for the ambulance. I don’t think any of us felt any sympathy for the learner driver who had misjudged the corner and over corrected. Wouldn’t it have been better if she had continued to take the corner wide rather than steer to the inside and hit Vicky who happened to be closest to the road, but still on the pavement like all of us.
It seemed a miracle that we collected Vicky from the hospital the next day. She was bruised and shocked but otherwise unharmed. Perhaps holding her bike roadside so that it was on top of her slight body as she was dragged by the car was miraculous. That half her helmet was dashed to pieces against the dry stone wall was no miracle.
So, dear reader, don’t fuss about helmet hair or looking like a geek, a helmet could save your life. My new helmet cost just over £20 so buying one is a bit of a no-brainer.