Several years ago, safety experts began persuading legislators that motorcycle riders should wear safety helmets. New state laws began ordering cycle riders to wear them.

Some riders had long been helmet enthusiasts. But among those who donned helmets only when they were ordered to, reaction was mixed. Some grew to like them, some did not. The dissidents began to campaign for the repeal of helmet laws.

The two principal arguments put forward by advocates of repeal were: 1) Even if helmets are useful, Big Brother shouldn't mandate their use because this is a violation of individual freedom, and 2) helmets interfere with a biker's vision and hearing, and are therefore dangerous.

Some state legislatures accepted these arguments and repealed their mandatory helmet laws.

A recent opinion survey taken among Michigan's motorcyclists showed that while only 53 percent favor mandatory helmet laws, 67 percent believe that helmets should be worn at all times. In order words, 14 percent think helmets should be worn but resent being told to wear them.

When the issue was before the Michigan legislature recently, motorcyclists descended on Lansing to lobby against helmets. A few days later, Jim Hough published this report in "The Onlooker" column in the Lansing State Journal:

"You may recall that there were hundreds of motorcyclists roaring around Lansing last Wednesday enroute to and from the Capitol to protest a Michigan law which requires motorcyclists to wear helmets.

"Well, I though you'd like to know of an interesting event which occurred as the motorcyclists lefttown. Two of them collided at I-96 and Okemos Road. One rider, Thomas C. Grone of Utica, was saved from death or serious head injury when he flew from his cycle and struck his helmeted head on pavement. The jar cracked his helmet open, but he suffered only minor bruises.

"When it was all over, Grone looked at the State Police trooper and then at his helmet and said, 'Man, I'll never protest the helmet law again.'"