Should bike helmets be compulsory?

As many of you know, my husband head-butted a transit van recently and sustained substantial head injuries; multiple-fractures to the skull and bleeding on the brain.  We’ve talked about it extensively and we both agree that in this case, a helmet would probably have helped due to the location of the injury and the speed at which the impact occurred.  For the record, he now owns a helmet.

Coincidently, when we were travelling into London to see the neurosurgeon, there was a heated debate in the editors section of the Metro about legislating bike helmets.  I personally don’t feel that the government should legislate this unless they can categorically link a reduction in injuries to wearing a helmet.

In countries, such as Holland, where everyone rides bikes and not many people wear helmets there isn’t an increase in head injuries.  Could this be down to better roads, more awareness of cyclists, dedicated cycle paths or cycling proficiency?  But in countries (Canada, Australia) that legislate wearing a helmet there hasn’t been a reduction in head injuries.

However, I would like to see more people opting to wear helmets on their own accord; especially in the UK where cyclists and motorists aggressively vie for space on our overcrowded narrow roads, with limited cycle paths.

Interestingly, the neurosurgeon said they never treat people for injuries who’ve been using Boris Bikes.  My mind boggles and I’d love to know the reason behind this, he didn’t know why either.  They go just as fast as other cyclists and rarely do you see people wearing helmets whilst riding them.  Do you think it’s because motorists assume that they aren’t as proficient and give them a wide birth or is it because traffic isn’t as free flowing in the city?

I appreciate, that there isn’t research to prove that bike helmets reduce the chance of head injuries, but I’ve never heard a good argument for not wearing one and I’ve also never heard of a helmet making it worse. So, why not wear one?  It seems like a no brainer to me and you can get one for less than £20.  I know many people are sceptical of the commercial forces behind such legislation.

I’d love your thoughts on this?  Do you wear a helmet?  If not, why?