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A foldable paper bike helmet for the urban commuter

A solution for bike share users who aren't accustomed to bringing around their own head protection

It’s a sight you have probably seen before if you live in a city with a bike sharing system. A helmetless rider weaving through traffic leaving their precious noggin exposed. Not riding with a helmet doesn’t only happen to the careless. If you are a frequent user of a bike sharing system you may make it a habit of carrying your helmet around with you. If you are not, you may not even own one or it may simply not be convenient to haul it around with you in the chance you spontaneously decide to use a bike share rather than alternate modes of transportation.

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Enter the EcoHelmet. A cheap, recyclable helmet that could easily be made available at bike share stations that folds down to the size of a banana. As bike sharing becomes more popular with its convenience and affordability luring urban commuters from other modes of transportation, the only drawback is the lack of a simple and easy way to rent a helmet.

Isis Shiffer, a 28-year-old industrial designer is trying to change that by designing a paper helmet that is foldable and could be made available in vending machines. The EcoHelmet is constructed from cardstock paper laid out in a radial honeycomb pattern. Designed to absorb a hard blow and spread it evenly throughout your head, the helmet meets European crash test safety regulations. It is currently undergoing testing to meet American safety standards which require a helmet to protect the wearer’s head from an impact that’s equivalent to a six and a half foot drop. The material is waterproofed using a corn-based biodegradable wax, the same coating used on disposable coffee cups.

“You could buy a helmet for $5 or less, and when you’re done with the ride, you’d put it back in a recycle bin located at each station,” Shiffer, CEO and founder of design consultancy Spitfire Industry, told CNNMoney. Presumably the helmet would also be good for more than one use making it easy to stow away in a purse or bag.

The helmet remains a concept design but has already won an international design contest, the 2016 James Dyron Award. The ultimate goal is to manufacture the helmet in various colours and offer them through bike share services.

“I want my helmet to keep cyclists safe, and make cities safer and greener at the same time,” said Shiffer.