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.
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?