Will improved helmet technology reduce cyclist injuries and deaths?

Can improved technology reduce cyclist injuries and deaths?

The Invisible Bicycle Helmet | Fredrik Gertten from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

Thanks to NYC Volae-rider Dan C. for forwarding this video to me.  The invisible airbag helmet is a nice idea.  Would it reduce cyclist deaths and or injuries?  Would it work for recumbent bike* riders?  Is it only comfortable for riders sitting in an upright “Dutch style” riding position?
[*I’m learning to write out the bulky phrase “recumbent bike” in order to enhance my search engine optimization.  Aren’t I good?]

I don’t have an opinion — “good” or “not” — though I agree it’s cool.  However, I prefer solutions that involve no technology and little expense for the rider, if possible.  Surely the invisible helmet airbag will be an expensive device, won’t it?

The solution is safer streets for everyone — cyclists, pedestrians and motorized vehicles — and these will result in fewer cyclist injuries and deaths.  I do not believe the solution is either greater helmet technology or helmet laws (not that the video gets into that).

While I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole of helmet safety for this blog entry, briefly, statistics show that the larger the number of cyclists, the fewer the number of cyclist deaths and that helmet laws discourage cycling.  Therefore, helmets (and helmet laws) appear to have the effect of increasing the number of cyclist deaths.

In 2005, Dr. Ian Walker of Bath University conducted research which suggests:

“Cyclists who wear protective helmets are more likely to be knocked down by passing vehicles, new research from Bath University suggests. The study found drivers tend to pass closer when overtaking cyclists wearing helmets than those who are bare-headed.” [from the BBC]

As it relates to the “invisible helmet” in this video, all this should mean the “invisible helmet” will provide an effective double buffer of safety for the cyclist.  Cars will give more space to the cyclist who is not (apparently) wearing a helmet and, if that cyclist is struck, the airbag helmet will give needed protection.  Fantastic.  But I can’t say I want to spend money on — or deal every time I ride — with that airbag helmet device.  I suppose plastic and foam helmets are funny looking, but they’re also pretty simple, even if they’re of limited effectiveness.

Here is more research about bicycle helmets.

The only effective and fair solution is for government to develop street infrastructure that encourages cycling, same as was done for cars.  This would include bikeways — bike lanes, greenways, separated bike paths — wider shoulders on roads, reduced and enforced speed limits for cars,

Have fun and look out for the damn cars,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

Leave a Reply