Yesterday, when I was cycling along the straight bit of lane at Meathop, doing about 15mph, a hawk sprang up from the field to my left and flew alongside me for about 50 yards before swooping in front of me and away. It was one of those scarcely believable moments which will never happen again, but which doesn’t need to because I’ll never forget it.
When I got back to Grange my mood of exhilaration was dented somewhat when an elderly lady raised her arm as I passed and shouted “Where’s your helmet!”. It was the same lady who had accosted me at a meeting of the Grange Garden Society and had told me off for cycling around without a helmet. I told her that I felt much more comfortable in my cloth cap than a helmet, and that it wouldn’t be anything like as much fun if I had to wear a helmet. It was kind of her to be concerned for my safety, and her views are shared by the many who want to make it a criminal offence to ride a bike without a helmet. I believe those people are wrong. In places where cycling is ubiquitous, such as Holland, helmets are rarely worn, except by children. And in places where they have made it compulsory, such as Western Australia, bicycle usage has fallen by a third. What a pity it would be if, as a result of a well meaning law, the trend towards the greater use of cycles were to be halted, or even reversed.