While I was visiting Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago, there was a little dust up over the city's newly hired Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator. He was photographed for a Star Tribune story while not wearing a helmet.
It turned out that that was a conscious decision on his part. He was quoted as saying that he wanted to send the message that you can bike in everyday clothes, and that biking is not especially dangerous.
Some public health officials took issue with that, and he was eventually ordered to wear a helmet while on the job.
All this raises an interesting and ongoing debate around here. I wear a helmet all the time in winter and most of the time the rest of the year. But there are days when I just don't feel like it, especially on hot days this summer when the helmet seemed like a burden.
I'm not especially concerned with helmet hair, but then again I'm 53 years old and happily married. Looking attractive isn't my top priority. For many others though, flat hair is a major life issue and so it keeps them off their bikes.
There seems to be some evidence that what really makes bike commuting safe is the volume of bikers joining you out there -- there really is safety in numbers. That seems to be true of places around Europe like Amsterdam where everyone bikes and nobody wears a helmet.
So my advice to responsible adults is to wear a helmet -- but if it's the one thing that's keeping you off your bike, then don't. By joining the growing number of bike commuters, you'll make yourself -- and the rest of us -- safer.