This new bicycle helmet is an airbag

I used to ride a bicycle a lot. I didn’t drive, lived far away from the nearest supermarket and so a bike came in quite handy. I used it for practical journeys rather than pleasure, but a cycle helmet was always part of the deal. I didn’t like wearing one but I was made very aware of the risks of not wearing a helmet in my early twenties.

I was working at the Leeds General Infirmary during the holidays to help fund my studies. I was hired as a housekeeper and although I was mostly assigned to one ward for the duration of the summer, I was happy to do extra shifts to earn extra money, especially on bank holidays and weekends.

It was during one of these extra shifts that I met a family who’s daughter had been in an accident. She had been hit by a car whilst out riding her bike and as she hadn’t worn a helmet had suffered severe head injuries. She was on a high depency ward, in a coma attached to machines to help her breathe. Her recovery was uncertain. Her family were devastated. Her outcome could’ve been so different if she had been wearing a helmet.

I see so many teens nowadays cycling without helmets and it really worries me. So many of the non-helmet wearers are girls and I wonder whether it’s an aesthetic/fashion choice? Do they think it’s un-trendy or un-cool to wear a helmet and in so doing would prefer the risks of cycling without one? Helmets may look un-cool, they may leave you with ‘helmet hair’ and accumulate sweat like nothing else, but if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t wear a bike helmet for these reasons, take heed.

A new study has revealed compelling evidence that wearing a cycle helmet reduces risk of serious head injury by a staggering 69%. The study also found that wearing a helmet can reduce the chance of a fatal head injury by 65%.

There’s currently no law in the UK to enforce cyclists to wear helmets, but other countries do and maybe we should follow their lead. In Australia, where the study was held, a helmet is compulsory and you can be fined up to £187 if you don’t comply. In Sweden a new law was introduced making it mandatory for children up to the age of 15 to wear helmets. This triggered a debate as to whether the law should extend to adult cyclists too.

This led two women who were studying Industrial Design at the University of Lund to find out if it was possible to develop a cycle helmet that people would be happy to wear – whether they had to or not. And so the Hövding was born – an airbag for urban cyclists. Hövding is a discreet collar that cyclists wear around their necks. The collar contains a folded airbag, which is triggered and protects the head and neck in the event of an accident.

Hövding is the world’s first airbag for cyclists and is the result of intensive research since 2005. Through advanced sensors, Hövding can sense the cyclist’s movement patterns and will react in case of an accident. The unique airbag will then inflate, fixate your neck and provide the world’s best shock absorption.

Watch the video below to find out more:

Hövding proved to have more than three times better shock absorbance capacity than all other helmets in the Swedish insurance company Folksam´s test in 2012. The video below goes over the technical testing done on traditional cycle helmets and this new airbag for cyclists. It’s a bit long, but well worth watching.

So from now on if you’re going to cycle – use your head – use a helmet.

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