I recall Doddsy (I think) putting up a post about not wearing helmets and not conforming to road rules and I joined the brigade of knockers sprouting forth my opinion that we should abide by the laws of the land and set an example to all etc etc etc.
I've spent the last 3 months in Europe and have ridden in 13 countries in that time. Not once did I wear a helmet. Many, many times I rode up footpaths, turned on red lights and rode the wrong way up one way streets. Why? Cos that's what everyone does. Its safe, it encourage people to ride rather than drive. You can hire a bike, ride it where you want to go and leave it in a different hire zone. NO worries about helmets, just ride.
At first I was shocked by this, but quickly I came to realise that it is inherent with a biking, commuting and social culture.
Not saying that this should or could be introduced into our culture (pity!) but when you experience it, it sure makes you think that us and our do-gooding doesn't really help the promotion of the bike as a realisitic form of everyday transport.
Need to think a bit more about this, but thought I'd share that I've had my opinion altered through the experience.
Thanks Steve. Several key differences I found between riding here and in the European cities: over there the other cyclists/pedestrians and motorists have grown up with bikes all over the place and have some form of collective consciousness about them; secondly metro traffic is often very restricted (either due to access or to density).
I'll keep my hat on over here I think.....