I had no idea there was such an active debate about the utility of bicycle helmets. My assumption had always been that they provided unambiguous protection from direct contact between hard materials and the skull and had a limited secondary value in diminishing momentum at the time of collision by crushing.
Some of the arguments against helmets linked above do seem to have some merit. If it can be demonstrated that they significantly reduce bicycle usage, the general health benefits lost may well be more significant than the avoided injuries associated with unhelmeted crashes. It would also be interesting to see a properly controlled experiment on whether helmet wearing decreases the caution employed by both riders and cyclists.
Walking to and from work every day, I spend twenty minutes beside a noisy six-lane road. That road has certainly increased my aesthetic opposition to private automobiles. Along with the carbon emissions, cost of roads, need to stay cozy with oil producing governments, and other standard externalities associated with the automobile, all the space they take up and noise they produce should be considered as well. There is no uglier element in most cities than the various bits of infrastructure that cater to cars (some bridges excepted).