Bike Helmets That Look Like Toy Hair Could Get More Kids to Wear Them

Riding a bicycle may be a rite of childhood, but wearing a helmet? Not so much. Of the millions of children in the United States who pedal bicycles over hill, dale and cul-de-sac, fewer than half wear safety helmets, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the numbers of children who regularly wear helmets is similarly low in Europe, which — like the U.S. —has no comprehensive, far-reaching legislation requiring the use of headgear.

But what if bicycle helmets were so cool that kids voluntarily wore them? This idea is exactly what one European company is exploring — and the inspiration is something nearly every kid would recognize.

A collaboration between Denmark-based design firm MOEF and marketing agency DDB created a bicycle helmet that looks remarkably like the plastic hair on Playmobil figurines, a line of children's toys that have been sold since the early 1970s. (The German-made Playmobil's not as prevalent in the United States as the similar but more build-it-yourself-oriented Lego out of Denmark.)

To make the helmet prototype — check out the video above to see it in action for yourself — the company removed the plastic hair piece from a 7.5-centimeter (3-inch) Playmobil person, then created a digital version using a 3-D scanner. The digitized model went through a design phase to add the safety components of a bicycle helmet and then a real-life copy was 3-D printed to fit the dimensions of a child's head. The prototype was painted the same shiny brown color as the hair of a Playmobil figurine, and fitted with pads and straps like a regular bicycle helmet. The prototype will be used to determine whether there's interest in the concept, according to the company's website.

In an effort to get more kids to wear helmets, designers looked to the iconic plastic hair of Playmobil toys.
In an effort to get more kids to wear helmets, designers looked to the iconic plastic hair of Playmobil toys.
Daniel Karmann/AFP/Getty Images

If a bicycle helmet that looks like plastic play hair isn't your kid's thing, she could always opt for something really wacky, like a watermelon helmet, a rainbow unicorn helmet or headgear that sports a full-on fauxhawk. In fact, the world's awash in plenty of cool, innovative bike safety gear. Then again, what kid wouldn't want to sport an awesome Lego-like 'do?