Bike share programs are becoming increasingly popular in urban centers all over the world because of the convenience they offer city commuters. Cities in China, Europe, and Canada have had bike sharing programs for years now, and a large number of cities in the U.S. are getting on board.
But as more cities launch bike share programs, the safety of bikers is becoming a concern. Particularly because most programs don’t let bikers rent a helmet with the bicycle. Isis Shiffer believes she has a solution—the EcoHelmet, a unique collapsible helmet made with recyclable paper.
Shiffer, a graduate of the Pratt Institute of Design in New York, made the EcoHelmet using layers of recycled paper woven together to create a structure that’s light yet durable and can keep the cyclist’s head shape while it’s worn. To protect it from rain damage, Shiffer added a biodegradable waterproof coating that can keep the helmet dry for up to three hours.
It may look flimsy, but the helmet has passed European safety standards. It still needs to get certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) before it can be sold in the U.S.
Shiffer’s plan is to sell EcoHelmets at bike share stations so they can be easily accessible to urban bikers. In addition to making them universally appealing, she wants to keep the price as low as possible: the current list price for a helmet is about $5. Shiffer is working on developing custom machinery to mass produce the helmets.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people who use a bicycle for their daily commute has increased by 60% over the past decade. The demand for accessible and durable helmets is definitely going to be on the rise if this trend continues, so watch out for EcoHelmets at a bike share station near you!