Fresh helmets won't hurt you
The points raised by Mr. Ballance and the Hook in the May 24 article on bike helmets ["More risk? Safety engineer slams proposed helmet law"] are not valid arguments against helmet usage. There is no debate that bike helmet use can prevent head injuries.
The risk factor cited by Mr. Ballance for helmets "digging in" and causing neck injuries is associated with an obsolete helmet design no longer manufactured or sold in the U.S. These "soft shell" helmets disappeared from the market when the research showing their dangers emerged and have been replaced with the "micro shell" design that largely eliminates the problem.
The claim that wearing helmets leads to riskier behavior is not supported by the evidence. The data showed that cyclists who wear helmets regularly were more fearful and rode more slowly when they rode without helmets. Well, duh.
People who wear helmets understand that helmets reduce risk of injury and realize that they are less at risk when they are wearing their helmets. If they are forced to ride without helmets, they will ride more slowly and cautiously than when they are riding with their helmets because they are scared to death that if they fall they could sustain a head injury. It doesn't mean that when they are wearing their helmets that they are riding at an unsafe speed or engaging in "risky" behavior.
The new under-14 helmet ordinance requires helmet use on public roads, places where Mr. Ballance would also argue for helmet use. The ordinance does not indicate required helmet usage in parks (e.g. Riverview Trail) or in your private driveway or yard.
Bottom line, wear a helmet anytime you get on a bike and you will be safer than without a helmet.
P.S. More info on bike helmets at the Washington Area Bicyclists Association Helmet advocacy website: bhsi.org