When it comes to bicycle safety, wearing a helmet can be the difference between life and death. However, getting riders to wear a helmet can be a battle of its own. Helmets are bulky, difficult to carry around, and can definitely diminish one’s cool factor.
Rather than looking like a hunk of foam, the Park and Diamond helmet is nearly as thin as a baseball cap while remaining just as protective as something more traditional. When a cyclist is done riding, the helmet can be collapsed, folded, rolled, and stuffed into a water bottle or pocket.
This stylized and portable helmet was developed by Virginia Tech students David Hall and Jordan Klein in response to a serious bike accident. Hall’s sister was riding her bike through the intersection of Park and Diamond streets near the campus when she was the victim of a hit-and-run. She wasn’t wearing a helmet, and she spent four months in a coma. Luckily, she made a full recovery.
Riding without a helmet is a common sight, especially around college towns. People don’t want to be stuck carrying it around after locking the bike up.
“We thought, ‘What does every bike and bag have? A place to store a water bottle. So, if the helmet fits in that space, the rider can always be covered,'” Klein said in a conversation with Red Bull. “Carrying a helmet becomes a seamless part of life.”
Through the Red Bull Launchpad, a collegiate start-up competition, Park and Diamond earned a paid trip to New York to show off the helmet at the TechCrunch Disrupt, one of the top tech conferences in the country. They also were able to receive feedback from Red Bull athlete Austin Horse, one of the fastest courier-style street racers in the world. He believes the helmet has a chance to grow alongside the rising popularity of bike-share programs. If it’s easy to bring along a helmet, more people are likely to grab a bike.
So far, the team has raised about $175,000 to prove out the technology and construct prototypes. They hope to raise $1 million for tooling and production thanks to the buzz they’ve created through Red Bull and TechCrunch.
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