Foldable Paper Bike Helmet for Bike Share Riders Wins James Dyson Award

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Line up of identical bikes at a bikeshare

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This compact recyclable bicycle helmet could offer a low-cost head protection option for bike share users.

Although regular cyclists are likely to have their own favorite helmets right at hand when it's time to go for a ride, occasional riders, including those who use bike share services, may not, and one designer has come up with an affordable (and recyclable) alternative, dubbed the EcoHelmet. The designer, Isis Shiffer, who recently graduated from the Pratt Institute of Design in New York City, saw a need for a better helmet solution for bike share users, of which some 90% may not wear helmets while riding, and her lightweight design is said to offer a durable, safe, and eco-friendly option.

The EcoHelmet is made from recycled paper, and is constructed in a radial honeycomb pattern that is said to distribute blows "from any direction as effectively as traditional polystyrene," while also being able to fold up flat when not in use. The cardboard material is coated with a biodegradable water resistant solution that can stand up to being exposed to rain for up to three hours, and yet can be easily recycled when the user is done with it. For her work, Shiffer was selected as the international winner of the James Dyson Award 2016, and the EcoHelmet could be available through vending machines at bike share stations as early as this year, at an estimated cost of about $5.

Although the EcoHelmet still has to be CPSC certified to be sold on the open market, that could be coming soon, thanks to the $45,000 James Dyson Award, which will be used to further develop her invention. And while at first glance, a cardboard helment doesn't seem to fit the bill as a truly effective headgear option for biking, Shiffer's earlier work showed her the viability of the design.

"I was lucky enough to be studying at Royal College of Art and the Imperial College of London for a semester, and was granted access to Imperial’s crash lab. They had a European standard helmet crash setup that allowed me to gather enough data on Ecohelmet’s proprietary honeycomb configuration to know it was viable and worth developing." - Shiffer

Here's a little bit more about the EcoHelmet from the James Dyson Foundation:

No details have been determined as to when and where the EcoHelmet will first debut (rumor has it in NYC), but interested cyclists and bike share proponents can sign up to stay in the loop on this foldable and recyclable bike helmet.

What do you think? Would you trust your noggin to a folding paper helmet, knowing it will have passed safety tests when it debuts?