Lonely Planet Writer

This £4 foldable helmet for cyclists using bike share schemes has won a top design award

Bike share schemes have become a feature of cities around the world from London to Taipei, but one feature that has been missing from most schemes is safety helmets. Now a foldable, recyclable, paper helmet, aimed at users of the bikes has won the prestigious international James Dyson Award for clever inventions.

Isis with James Dyson holding her invention
Isis with James Dyson holding her invention.  Image by Kimberly Mufferi/Dyson

The EcoHelmet, made from recycled paper, is woven into a honeycomb structure that protects the wearer’s head from impact from any direction. It is designed for anyone using bike-sharing schemes,  or who maybe travelling and wanting to hire a bike, but who may not have access to protective head-wear.

World-famous inventor Dyson praised it as an “incredibly elegant” solution to an “obvious problem”. The competition, which is open to university-level students or recent graduates, was won by design graduate, Isis Shiffer of the Pratt Institute of Design in New York, who won £30,000 for claiming top spot.

The helmet folds up when not in use. Image by: Dyson

Isis said: “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 set-up that allowed me to gather enough data on EcoHelmet’s proprietary honeycomb configuration to know it was viable and worth developing.”

Folded and unfolded versions side-by-side
Folded and unfolded versions side-by-side.  Image by Kimberley Mufferi/Dyson

The helmet is expected to sell for as little as £5 when it goes on sale. According to a 2016 study of 64,000 injured cyclists by the University of New South Wales in Australia, wearing a bike helmet can reduce the risk of serious head injury by almost 70%. Dyson added: “EcoHelmet solves an obvious problem in an incredibly elegant way. But its simplicity belies an impressive amount of research and development. I look forward to seeing EcoHelmets used in bike shares across the world.”