Bike share schemes are all the rage these days. They’re good for the environment, reduce traffic congestion and keep urban cyclists fit – unless they get in an accident, of course. The possibility of spontaneously renting a bike usually comes with the downfall that users do not carry a helmet. But a lightweight, foldable and cheap helmet could be a game changer.
Helmets save lives, but they are always often seen as clunky, uncool and impractical, especially for cyclists using bike share schemes. A Brooklyn-based designer may have found the solution: a foldable paper helmet that combines the safety features of traditional helmets with the compactness and lightness of, well, paper.
The idea of wearing a helmet is not as broadly accepted as some might think. Some people strongly oppose laws forcing cyclists to wear helmets, claiming that they discourage the use of bicycles and encourage the ‘deresponsibilisation’ of car drivers. Still, several health and safety organisations maintain that helmets should be worn to reduce injuries. Recently, a study by Australian statisticians revealed that helmet use significantly reduced the odds for several types of injuries, including fatal head injuries. The study included data from over 64,000 injured cyclists.
One Helmet to Save Them All
Brooklyn-based designer Isis Shiffer developed a clever solution for bike share users. EcoHelmet is simply made of paper arranged in a honeycomb structure. In case of an impact, the structure spreads the force evenly around the head of the user, protecting them from potentially fatal injuries.
EcoHelmet’s niftiest feature is probably its compactness: when the helmet is not in use, it can be flattened and stored in a purse or pocket. If you don’t feel like you can trust folded paper with your life, don’t worry: EcoHelmet will have to pass the same certification tests as conventional helmets before entering the market.
The paper helmet is coated with a biodegradable substance that makes it waterproof; users can bike in the rain for up to three hours. And the best part? The helmet can be completely recycled, straps and all. That’s one of the perks of using paper.
EcoHelmet will officially launch in 2017 and be sold for around 4 GBP (5 USD) apiece. Perhaps in the future bike share stations will be paired with vending machines selling EcoHelmets, drinks and healthy snacks. These cheap, lightweight, recyclable helmets could be a revolution for spontaneous urban cyclists.