Thursday, 26 May 2011

Bicycle helmet designs

I have to come clean - I am not a bicycle helmet wearer for everyday cycling.
I know this is a controversial issue, with strong feelings on both sides, but I generally come down on the side of feeling that learning to cycle competently and dealing effectively and vigilantly with traffic is the best way to maintain overall safety, rather than relying on protective clothing. Helmets may provide the "icing on the cake" in terms of additional security, but I've seen so many poorly fitted, useless helmets on people cycling like idiots, that I think in general terms it is better to focus on increasing cycling competency than helmet-wearing.

I'll admit, too, that I am also put off by the expense of replacing them, the fact that they are a pain to carry round with you once you are off the bike and the fact that, quite frankly, they look horrible. I wear them for mountain biking, but everyday utility cycling... no.

However, I was very interested to read in the paper this morning about a new design of flat-packable cycle helmet that is up for a Dyson Design award. Here it is, designed by French student Julien Bergignat:

Ok, so it is still a bit weird looking when on, but in quite a funky way!
In searching for these pictures, I came across a whole host of innovative and funky prototype helmet designs. Intramuros magazine in France even held a helmet design competion last year that received 164 entries! Here are some of my favourites from their website,

The helmet that doubles as a bag
Multi-coloured Manga hair style

A helmet with a rigid, lockable strap so you can lock it to the frame of your bike when you leave it

The Chic Option

Squeezes down to fit the wearer's head

The competition winner - a lightweight, aesthetic, adjustable design based on a resilient composite material

Of course, resilience to impact is an over-riding issue that hasn't necessarily been proven yet in these prototypes, but it does demonstrate that there are numerous creative ways we could be thinking about helmet design that might help overcome some of the barriers to wearing them, ensure a better (safer) fit and persuade people like me to add them to their everyday cycling attire.

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