Nearly half of cyclists in a snap survey were caught not wearing helmets.
The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend took to Tauranga city and Mount Maunganui streets to find out if cyclists are obeying the law - and found nine out of 20 were not wearing helmets.
The survey comes ahead of this month's BikeWise month and as latest figures show that nationally more than 10,000 infringement notices are issued to non-helmeted cyclists each year, and 10 cyclists were killed and 713 injured on the country's roads last year. Cyclists caught not wearing a helmet can be fined $55.
Romina Gomez was one rider not wearing a helmet on Marine Parade. She was photographed among traffic with the helmet hanging off her left handlebar and looking down at an electronic device.
An embarrassed Ms Gomez said she usually wore her helmet but on that day had nipped down to the shops, which were only two minutes ride from her home.
She said she knew she was flouting the law but was not the only one doing so.
"I'm sorry. I won't do it again," Ms Gomez said, as she rode off wearing her helmet.
Mount Maunganui cyclist Curtis Courian said he always wore his helmet not only because the law required him to, but because Tauranga was "just too dangerous" not to do so. He singled out Marine Parade where the road width meant cyclists and cars were brought close together.
"I'm always really careful ... Anyone who doesn't wear a helmet is taking a massive risk," he said.
But the survey's findings and the recent experience of a Bay of Plenty Times staff member bring into question just how accepted helmets are. The staff member, who had not been named for legal reasons, said she was met with surprise when she went out to buy a cycle helmet earlier this week.
She only used her bike in a small area - to get to the shops or Mauao and avoided main roads - and people questioned her why she bothered with a helmet.
She had ridden without a helmet for about a month but often got yelled at by motorists for doing so.
There was a strong feeling of "no one else does so why should I?" in Mount Maunganui, she said.
"Everyone said 'no one wears a helmet around here' as though that was a good excuse not to."
The shop assistant treated it as a bit of a joke, she said.
"It's definitely not 'cool' to wear a helmet, but I don't think serious head injuries are very cool so I take the social blow to protect myself."