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Airbag for cyclists unveiled

An alternative to a bicycle helmet was unveiled in Sweden today--a fabric collar with motion sensors that rapidly inflates into an air-filled cushion around the wearer's head after detecting rapid movement indicating an impact.

In this video, a crash dummy is hit by a car going about 12 miles an hour; the collar inflates in one-tenth of a second, forming a helmet around the dummy's head before it hits the car's hood.

The safety device, called a Hövding, could appeal to cyclists who are reluctant to wear a helmet because of its appearance, discomfort or concern about their hair.

It could also come in handy for users of Arlington and the District's Capital Bikeshare, which recommends wearing helmets but does not provide them. Users of the bikeshare program like the fact that after they drop off a bike, they are unencumbered by equipment; the collar, unlike a helmet, could be easily tucked into a bag.

It will go on sale in Sweden early next year, retailing for about $50.

By Luke Rosiak  | October 21, 2010; 2:18 PM ET
Categories:  Biking, Traffic Safety  | Tags:  Bikeshare  
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Comments

Interesting. Will it deploy quickly enough to protect my noggin when a car hits me going 20 or 30 mph?

Posted by: wrytous | October 21, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Here's an idea: The incident rate for bikers may be higher, but I'd wager that the absolute numbers of head injuries for drivers and peds in the US should point us to prioritize first the need for walking and driver helmets. The Danes are implementing helmets for peds (see below).

Or here's another idea: Implement a 100% Fault program that holds drivers (like me) accountable for EVERY instance that we hit pedestrians, bikers, or other, non-vehicular, legal road users.

See http://www.copenhagenize.com/2009/08/walking-helmet-is-good-helmet.html

Posted by: adforsyth1 | October 21, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

And when the pedestrians, bikers, or other, non-vehicular, users are using roads illegally, hold them 100% accountable for their own injuries.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | October 21, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

What's the problem with helmets? They're cheap and easy to use. I feel naked cycling without one.

Posted by: krickey7 | October 21, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

@adforsyth1, are you only talking about head injury numbers from cars hitting bikes, cars hitting pedestrians, and cars hitting other cars, or total head injuries?

Because I think bikers have more potential for head injuries than pedestrians and than people in cars. For example, bikers running into suddenly-opened car doors, potholes causing a bike to crash, etc. would probably result in head injuries for bikers, but not for people in cars or pedestrians.

I also think car drivers' head injuries are more common when they are not wearing a seatbelt, and pedestrians's head injuries more common when they are doing something stupid. Point being, they are probably having these accidents because they are not being safe, and so are not going to wear a helmet anyway.

re: a 100% Fault program that holds drivers accountable, wouldn't that just encourage bikers and pedestrians to be LESS safe, since their injuries would be paid for? It assumes that bikers and pedestrians don't act stupid.

Posted by: informedtraveller | October 21, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

"Or here's another idea: Implement a 100% Fault program that holds drivers (like me) accountable for EVERY instance that we hit pedestrians, bikers, or other, non-vehicular, legal road users."

I find this a bit implausible. Technically, if a pedestrian enters an uncontrolled crosswalk, he's there "legally" and you have to stop. But a standard rule of negligence law holds that the pedestrian must act prudently--that is, if the car is almost to the crosswalk and clearly cannot stop before reaching it, the pedestrian must not step out in front of that car because no reasonably prudent individual would do so. The driver shouldn't be responsible for the crash in that case (assuming, of course, the driver isn't going way over the speed limit such that if he'd been driving responsibly he could have stopped).

Posted by: 1995hoo | October 21, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

getjiggly, cyclists ARE legal road users, except on some limited access highways. And what would you say about all the car drivers who use the roads illegally? Running red lights, blowing through stop signs and driving drunk are all illegal, and yet people do this all the time.

Posted by: 123home123 | October 22, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

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