EcoHelmet: A foldable, recyclable helmet for bike share

A bicycle helmet made from paper could be the answer to the problem of cyclists riding rental bikes without protective headwear around the world.

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The EcoHelmet, devised by Pratt Institute design graduate Isis Shiffer from Brooklyn, New York, is a paper bicycle helmet she hopes will be used by bike hire schemes in major cities.

"EcoHelmet is a foldable, recyclable helmet for bike share. It unfolds into a full-sized helmet. It uses paper honeycomb to absorb impact and it's meant to be very, very inexpensive and available along with bike share bikes," said Ms Shiffer.

New York City's bike share programme Citi Bike and similar systems around the world are increasingly popular with occasional cyclists who can, on a whim, rent a bicycle from various docking stations across the city.

An arguable downside to most bike shares is that helmets aren't offered, so unless they've already brought their own, bike renters are forced to ride with their heads unprotected.

The helmet is made from cardstock that Ms Shiffer said was made from the same material as butcher paper, but much, much thicker.

The EcoHelmet is intended for short periods of use, after which, it can be reused or recycled. Shiffer plans to coat her invention in a waterproof substance to make the helmet resistant to rain.

The designer says the helmets could be sold for US$5 (S$7.10) each or under from vending machines or local stores and is hoping the EcoHelmet will be available to the public in spring or summer of 2017.

And the EcoHelmet just won the James Dyson Award for design and innovation, with a US$45,000 grant going to Ms Shiffer.