The problem with introducing bike share schemes and incentivising cycling in other ways without spending on infrastructure to accommodate cyclists, is an increased rate of injuries and fatalities in cyclists on the roads.
One way of reducing this rate, could be through the introduction of cheap, portable helmets. Whilst helmets might in reality play a small part of the risk mitigation equation when cycling, they undoubtedly have a role in increasing the feeling of subjective safety of the rider, which is essential to increasing levels of urban cycling.
The designer Isis Shiffer came up with the idea after using bike share schemes in different cities around the world, and stated that she ‘ found the idea of riding a bike in a foreign city without a helmet terrifying’. This was to be negated therefore through wearing a helmet. The bulky, expensive variety more commonly seen are of course not particularly well suited to city lifestyle, but can a paper alternative really be as protective?
The foldable paper helmet uses a honeycomb structure that acts like a crumple zone in a car. This spreads the impact over a wider area, absorbing the force and minimising the skull-bashing.
Despite being termed an ‘Ecohelmet’, the ecological credentials are not clear. As a disposable helmet, exactly how many uses can it have? Surely the coating required to weatherproof the paper would mean such a helmet could not easily be recycled?
As an alternative to spending to 40 years and hundreds of millions of euros investing in infrastructure that effectively separates cyclists and pedestrians from motor vehicles, it is laughable.
As an innovative approach towards increasing the subjective safety of individuals using cycle share schemes, it is to be appluaded.
As the design has won the James Dyson Award and Miss Shiffer has received £30,000 for design development, we are one step closer to seeing it on our streets.