Via Twitter, I came across an interesting paper on the pros and cons of introducing cycle helmet legislation in the UK, called Cycle Helmets: The impacts of compulsory cycle helmet legislation on cyclist fatalities and premature deaths in the UK.
At the moment, helmets are recommended but not compulsory. This paper, by a senior transport official called James Gleave, argues that the studies carried out so far suggest that helmets do have a role in reducing serious effects from accidents but that legislation would be likely to cause a marked reduction in the number of people who choose to cycle. Therefore, because cycling is so effective as a way of reducing premature mortality by improving general health, the health economics of the situation suggest that it is better to leave the legislative approach alone because more cost would be caused by increased poor health as compared to decreased danger from accidents.
Fair enough. Between the lines, I think it is still clear that it is sensible for an individual to chose to wear a cycling helmet, and being both healthy and protected and I will continue to do so (although also noted the disquieting note that drivers apparently tend to travel closer to helmeted cyclists which is not the effect I want to achieve with my headgear).