Recycled, single-use paper pulp helmet could cost as little as £1 + video

Helmet concept made from recycled newspapers and designed to be used with hire bicycles

by Dave Atkinson   July 1, 2013  

What do you do if you decide that you want to roll around on a Boris Bike but you didn't bring a helmet? That's the question that Bobby Petersen, Tom Gottelier and Edward Thomas asked, and their solution is a paper pulp lid that could be mass-produced for as little as £1 per unit.

Petersen, Gottelier and Thomas are student at London's Royal College of Art and the Paper Pulp Helmet is currently at concept stage. The lid is made from recycled newspaper, which is pulped and then combined with an organic additive to make the helmet water-resistant; the designers say that it's good for six to eight hours in the rain. A normal London day, then. When you're done with it, the helmet can be recycled directly into another one. Although unlike in the video, we'd probably take the strap off first. That's going to get stuck round the mixer...

The pulp is vacuum-formed into the helmet shape and heated to dry it. The design features very deep grooves, which have three main functions. Firstly, it allows a chin strap to be looped over the top of the helmet to keep it in place. Secondly, the inside channels offer a certain amount of ventilation over the head, as the design doesn't have any vents. Thirdly, the grooves form a crumple zone to absorb impact should you be unlucky enough to sustain one. The designers are intending that the helmet should be certified; since the cardboard Kranium helmet from Abus has passed safety testing – indeed, the manufacturers told us it was good enough to pass some motorbike tests – that's certainly a possibility.

So far, so good. There's some aesthetic issues to be overcome here; we doubt many people will be queueing up to roll round London with something that looks like a hospital bed pan on their bonce. And there's the eternal debate over whether we should be concentrating on helmets anyway, that one will run and run.

 

23 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

what happens if it's raining??? do you look a bigger idiot than the numpty in the photo!!!

posted by RacePace [19 posts]
1st July 2013 - 11:38

like this
Like (5)

'And if you are desperate and can't find a loo'

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [899 posts]
1st July 2013 - 12:14

like this
Like (4)

RacePace wrote:
what happens if it's raining??? do you look a bigger idiot than the numpty in the photo!!!

the article wrote:
The lid is made from recycled newspaper, which is pulped and then combined with an organic additive to make the helmet water-resistant; the designers say that it's good for six to eight hours in the rain.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7038 posts]
1st July 2013 - 12:24

like this
Like (4)

There's an apt Smiley for it => At Wits End

mingmong's picture

posted by mingmong [177 posts]
1st July 2013 - 12:29

like this
Like (4)

These do seem like a good idea for those countries where existing compulsory helmet legislation has made bike rental schemes harder to establish or succeed.

Is it about a bicycle ?

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [469 posts]
1st July 2013 - 12:51

like this
Like (5)

I guess it works for egg boxes, oh hang on...

Rupert

posted by Rupert49 [38 posts]
1st July 2013 - 13:03

like this
Like (8)

Looks like a sick bowl they hand out in A&E Sick

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [149 posts]
1st July 2013 - 14:27

like this
Like (5)

Would a neatly tied bandana not work any better than this egg carton? Doesn't really look fit for purpose - but I applaud the fact they have thought of a solution to a problem. Fortunately it doesn't exist here.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [977 posts]
1st July 2013 - 14:47

like this
Like (6)

Surely it should be retitled, paper pulp temporary rain cover...it's not really giving the same protection as a bike helmet...

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

The _Kaner's picture

posted by The _Kaner [322 posts]
1st July 2013 - 15:54

like this
Like (6)

I wouldn't be surprised if it works better than a regular helmet as its more likely to squash rather than crack.

posted by ribena [118 posts]
1st July 2013 - 16:45

like this
Like (6)

Must have the date wrong, this isn't 1st April.

This is just more crap which is aimed at stopping normal people from riding bicycles. We don't need it...

posted by Kim [121 posts]
1st July 2013 - 17:42

like this
Like (0)

Well said Kim.

"What do you do if you decide that you want to roll around on a Boris Bike but you didn't bring a helmet?" A: Don't wear one. If cycling on our roads is dangerous enough to warrant a helmet even on a boris bike, the problem isn't whether or not boris bikers are wearing helmets.

At worst (and this is a pretty debatable worst case scenario), they provide little to no short term benefit whilst leading people away from the real issue.

posted by nuclear coffee [93 posts]
1st July 2013 - 20:37

like this
Like (7)

Formed internally for ventilation or not, I suspect if you're riding slow enough not to overheat in it, you'll be riding slow enough to get an arm out if you wobble off.

Agree with the above too, another attempt to make some cash at the expense of an appropriate image of cycling as a safe and normal day to day activity.

posted by Shouldbeinbed [27 posts]
1st July 2013 - 21:37

like this
Like (5)

I look at that top pic and think of Dad's Army. For that reason alone, I'm in.

posted by Mat Brett [1722 posts]
1st July 2013 - 21:38

like this
Like (5)

And a good use for re-cycling those Lance Armstrong books.....

posted by CGSmithy [16 posts]
1st July 2013 - 22:03

like this
Like (7)

I'm with Kim. There's no need for a helmet on a Boris bike, or any other bike.

This is a product which does nothing except perpetuate fear memes around cycling.

My levels of hostility to the designers are such that I cannot expresses them without running the risk of being banned from the blog for profanity.

posted by Ush [357 posts]
1st July 2013 - 22:10

like this
Like (6)

Great idea Big Grin

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [149 posts]
1st July 2013 - 22:24

like this
Like (0)

Ush wrote:
I'm with Kim. There's no need for a helmet on a Boris bike, or any other bike.

This is a product which does nothing except perpetuate fear memes around cycling.

My levels of hostility to the designers are such that I cannot expresses them without running the risk of being banned from the blog for profanity.

I ride 100 miles+ a week and I've only needed my helmet once, that was two days ago. Out on a club ride, nothing too serious, when a mis-communication lead to a touch of wheels. I was only doing 10-12 MPH as my front tapped the rear of the guy in front, as the bike started to go down instinct to stay upright kicked in and I automatically tried to shove the bike back to vertical, this just accelerated my upper body towards the road (equal and opposite reactions and all that) WHUMP!
One dazed and confused cyclist, with a split up the side of his helmet 3 inches long. I escaped with a cut elbow, the cost of a new lid, some wounded pride and the ability to complete the ride. If I'd not been wearing it that would have been my skull meeting the road and I'd have likely had a lump the size of an egg best case scenario.

posted by mybrainthinksim... [24 posts]
2nd July 2013 - 0:42

like this
Like (4)

@mybrainthkinksim and yet the accident statistics for Boris Bikes are vanishingly small

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4111 posts]
2nd July 2013 - 8:55

like this
Like (3)

'it's not really giving the same protection as a bike helmet...'

It's difficult to say, without doing any testing, but I could imagine it giving similar levels of protection to a 'proper' helmet. ie not much.

posted by andyp [633 posts]
2nd July 2013 - 10:32

like this
Like (8)

Looks just like the new era of aero helmets...perfect.

posted by brackley88 [47 posts]
2nd July 2013 - 11:52

like this
Like (7)

+1 to what Kim and Ush said

One of the potential negatives of wearing a helmet is the possible increase in severity of torsional/twisting injuries; the shape and material used here look like the worst possible design in this regard.

I actually think an egg box-like material with a bit of genuine crumple would be pretty good for a helmet inner, but it would need a hard shell outer and some way of adjusting the size so it actually fits; the guy in the main picture could crush his entire face before road contacted the helmet because it is tipped back. If you're going to wear something, you might as well wear it so the limited benefits will apply.

posted by 3cylinder [43 posts]
2nd July 2013 - 17:09

like this
Like (5)

This is exactly what the Australian city bike rental scheme needs. The city bikes just don't get used because you need a helmet to ride them, which is a pain for most users.

posted by jaseridesbikes [2 posts]
2nd July 2013 - 19:51

like this
Like (6)