If I'm doing 50mph in a 60mph limit I can think of several roads within 5 miles of my house where a cyclist could come out of nowhere with no notice from a side track and I wouldn't be able to stop in time. I would have been driving perfectly reasonably and the blame for the accident would be entirely with the cyclist. Would that make everything peachy if the cyclist died? Hardly.
Also, I can think of several ways of dressing that are highly offensive to one's visual senses, and to the visual senses of everyone else. "Because I think I look like an idiot" is not a valid objection to not wearing something that could prevent your death when partaking in a risky activity on a public highway. There are good reasons for rules and regulations on the roads, and cyclists shouldn't be any more immune to that than motorcyclists having to wear a helmet, or drivers having to wear a seatbelt.
So by using an extreme particular case, you somewhat can support your stance which applies to all cases? I don't find that convincing.
Insurance (even in the form of helmets) lowers the costs of riskier behavior.
"Because I look like an idiot" isn't the only objection of the millions of people affected by the law, and that straw man fallacy fails to portray how people perceive their profit and opportunity cost. Nor have you succeeded in defending your incorrect analogy.
Sure, I agree with you that there are good reasons for most people to use safety devices. They may improve their chances of survival even though the chance of dying--depending on an individual's skill and circumstances--varies and may be relatively low regardless of wearing a helmet.
The economist within me asks, "What's the tradeoff between various forms* of protection and various preferences defined by one's opportunity cost**?"
*(e.g. improving one's skills in cycling/driving, wearing a helmet, and/or learning to pay more attention to the road, etc.)
**(e.g. flowing hair in the wind, more comfort, 20% coolness--visually and physiologically, not worrying about the helmet being stolen, not having to risk paying for another helmet, and/or not having to lug a helmet with you throughout the day, etc).
As "society," we don't know that answer, and neither do you because this tradeoff is subjectively perceived by millions of individuals and varies all the time. It's extremely complex, yet the one-size-fits-all laws and obtuse statistics pay no heed to this process.
So how can we discover the optimal tradeoff? By allowing people to make that tradeoff for him or herself, but of course feel free to advertise in favor of helmets. I wear mine all the time because my opportunity cost = significant loss of future profit from brain damage. (My profit = future prestige, capability to learn, write, earn money, make jokes, etc.--who knows what I may lose with the possibility of brain damage?) I won't risk it, but others may have lower or different opportunity costs. I acknowledge that I am in no position to dismiss their opportunity costs; however, some ITT (you, AAFitz) are being presumptuous by not acknowledging this.
Besides, the market has companies which will advertise--and beg--for people to buy their helmets. This is the profit motive at work. It aligns self-interest into complementing the general interest (a.k.a. Adam Smith's Invisible Hand).
And here's another thing about law and economics. Without a helmet mandate, then individual preferences for more coolness and whatever are allowed to be revealed. Entrepreneurs, who are seeking profits through helmet-production, now have the incentive to discover these preferences and then create cool-looking helmets which consumers are free to choose at a price. However, with a mandatory helmet law, those preferences are quashed*, thus the profit opportunity remains hidden or constrained.
*(Of course, those who break the law can reveal their preferences, but this is beside the point.)
Before we jump up and support a prohibition against Not Wearing Helmets, we should really consider the capabilities of the market, the unintended consequences, the extreme limit of one's knowledge of other people's preferences, the special interest groups who may benefit from that law (police, city governments through police tickets, local Business Bureaus), the politicians, and the judges. Most importantly, we should reflect upon the opportunities that we may lose.
Instead, some loud minority insists upon Helmet Laws, and--get this--"for the common good." And, that law gets passed. Which sounds better? To me, it's the former, cautious argument, but this latter argument--wrapped in the guise of common good--usually fails to acknowledge what it tramples underneath.
So, taken all together, plus the other objections mentioned earlier (TG's for instance), it doesn't seem you have much of an argument here--other than repeating essentially the same argument. We can choose to live in a freer society and allow others to benefit each other on a voluntary basis--free of unnecessary government intervention. Or we can overlook all these opportunities and all of those individual preferences by staunchly supporting another mindless law.
I'm in favor of a freer society, are you?
edit3: (replace key terms, apply this to other threads, and /thread those threads).