Since I was a kid, it has always been said that you should never ever ever even dream of cycling without a helmet as it basically means immediate death or at least a brain injury that will spoil the rest of your life. I think all kids of my generation got from our schools this really ugly styrofoam helmet, which did not make the wearing of the thing very easy. Last time I had a look at it, it was still as ugly as I remembered.
The Finnish Law states that you should "in general" use a helmet when cycling. This leaves some room for not getting fined when eg. you are riding a short distance (of course nothing happens then, right??) or that your hair gets messed up.
Apparently in the Netherlands they have own rules, which I've empirically interpreted to be something along the lines of "never wear a helmet unless you want to be on a racing bike and go 80km/h". One of the first times I visited my work place I took a taxi during the rush hour from the train station in Den Bosch to the office. I was amazed by the amount of people on bikes - and without helmets. The moment I still remember is seeing a mom with two really small kids (somewhere around 4 years old), all with bicycles and without helmets going through really narrow spaces between cars and buses. I was absolutely convinced that these people are going to die right in front of my eyes or at least end up with a severe head injury.
When I moved here, I learned that there are two kinds of cycling; the professional wearing-silly-tight-clothes type of thing where the essential point is, that you never do it for actually getting somewhere but just to start from point A, do a lap of x km and then return back to point A. This is probably because of the
There are all kinds of bicycle things I stil need to learn such as how to have somebody sitting in the back of your bike, how to bike in busy Utrecht when the rush hour is actually consisting mainly of other bikes (I try to learn the advice I got: whatever you do, don't do anything unexpected). One thing I will probably never master is the skill of biking really close to someone (I need my own space) let alone talking to the cellphone while having an umbrella in the other hand and a christmas tree on the back of your bike. The Dutch Guy is also trying to convince me, that every Dutch person knows how to bike and kiss at the same time, but I don't really believe that is even possible..
And btw. the question I immediately started to wonder is whether there really are lot of people (and kids) getting injured each year because of not wearing helmets - the figures seem to be quite modest. According to this it is more probable die of drowning than while biking in the Netherlands. And there aren't many places to swim here (but maybe the mean the dikes..?)