We didn’t wear helmets when we were kids, and we rode all the time. No one wore helmets in the 90’s. One kid in my class (elementary school) fancied himself a “cyclist”. Had some sort of bike, talked about biking all the time, talked about teams and races and such, and bought all the expensive gear. He was the only one that wore a helmet, and had one of those fabric team helmet covers (that I think were soon proven to be dangerous as they would stick to the pavement rather than sliding). Everyone thought he was an obsessive nut.
Then Grandma bought us helmets for Christmas. Got us those early Bell round things that were hot and uncomfortable. We wore them occasionally.
I bought a decent helmet when I was 16, to go along with my first ever brand new bike. If I was going to ‘mountain bike’, I should have a helmet. Kept that thing for years, but didn’t wear it much since it was never comfortable. Until one summer when I was up north and biking on some real trails that had steep hills, rock cliffs, bears, etc. I was flying down a hill that curved out of sight, massive trees and rocks on the left, cliff drop to the right, and I suddenly realized that this was crazy and I should be wearing my helmet. Wore it the next time I went out, and mainly wore it from then on.
When that one died, I bought a nice Giro and for the first time in my life, I had a helmet that was comfortable and well ventilated.
Just this spring that helmet took a tumble down the stairs and cracked. I bought a Giro Chronicle with Mips.
I had a significant crash just three weeks ago. Bruises, scrapes, over-extended shoulder, and broken ribs. I did not hit my head at all, but it certainly was a concern.
You never know what will happen. Bones and muscle heal. Brains don’t always heal.