Bike Helmets? Up to You, Says London Mayor

Sometimes it's just too nice out to be safe, writes Boris Johnson
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2008 6:58 AM CDT
Boris Johnson cycles - without a helmet - outside City Hall in London.   (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
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(Newser) – The bicycle-loving mayor of London has a clear message for riders in the capital: wear a helmet, or else don't wear one. Writing in the Telegraph, Boris Johnson admits that despite the obvious arguments about safety, it's not always easy to put on an "undignified plastic hat" in fair weather. Not unlike many other issues in politics, helmet-wearing is beset by "incoherence."

For the mayor, the debate over wearing a bike helmet is a small-scale version of the broader challenge of balancing liberty and security in modern society. Just as citizens argue at once for tougher detention laws and the maintenance of civil liberties, "we should be allowed, in our muddled way, to make up our own minds"—on some days the security of a helmet, on others "hatless, sun-blessed, windswept liberty."