Here’s an innovative way that Scandinavians are trying to improve cycling safety in commuter cyclists who don’t use helmets (and perhaps also a clandestine effort to maintain some semblance of a hairstyle?!).

Meet the Swedish Hövding Air Bag – it’s a zip bag worn around the neck (kind of like a neck warmer) that releases an airbag in a helmet shape upon sudden impact (check out the video to see how it works).

Some view this as potentially even safer than a traditional helmet, because it:

  • Dissipates shock better with an airbag
  • Protects the lower back of the head
  • Does not twist the neck as the head is not locked to the helmet
  • Supports the neck with a collar when inflated

Downsides of the Hövding?  It’s expensive – around $500-600 – and from what I can gather, it can only be deployed once.  Also, deployment of the airbag is stimulated by a sudden impact.  So, what happens if you lose balance and just fall off your bike, with no sudden impact causing you to fall?  Will it deploy in time? Or if you fly over your handlebars head first, the head would be the first point of impact and therefore I can’t see how there would be a stimulus to deploy ahead of time.  So it may not be a good choice for road riders and certainly not mountain bikes – more for the relaxed cycle commuter that permeates European culture.

Many European countries do not mandate helmet use, and may be hesitant to mandate them due to a fear that this will discourage people from using their bicycles as daily transport.  It seems like this could be a good alternative to the traditional helmet for commuter purposes…. but probably needs some user experience and time before we can know for sure.

And somehow, they’ve managed to make it look like it walked right off a European fashion runway….

Thanks to my friend Craig for the heads’ up! (pun intended, haha)

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