Saturday, November 9, 2013

The "invisible bicycle helmet" is the ultimate example of cycling safety narcissism

My most popular blog entry is about what I call "lux-narcissism", i.e. over-lighting a bike and its rider to the detriment of others legally-illuminated, and pedestrians. I have also written about this invention from Sweden and helmetism in general many times before.
The Hövding is the ultimate example of bicycle safety narcissism. Aside from the obnoxious marketing hyperbole, it costs EUR 400 in the EU and 600 in the USA. IF you really think a helmet can help, then buy five 60 dollar helmets for friends and give 300 dollars to your local bicycle coalition or another org. fighting desperately to keep streets save and collisions from happening in the first place.
Very much related, in 2005 helmets became mandatory in Sweden for people up to their 15th birthday and this has not helped improve cycling modal share. So - at least in part - this creation is opportunist.
Please notice that I am not mentioning efficacy, durability, its single use function, comfort or any other technical or aesthetic issues. I also hope that my criticism would be the same for a project led by two men.
The problem is that it is simply far too expensive for most people. Their whole business plan is totally wrong -- they got money from the Swedish or regional government but also from private sources. Regarding the latter, they obviously completely screwed up and should have required a much longer period that investors were willing to wait to get paid back.
It is truly a pity because maybe this works... maybe not. People joke about the "Chinese" ripping off the design, so we'll see if the price on devices exactly like this or better comes down by a factor of five.
Again, I am against helmet requirements for any age group, helmet promotion by governments and similar from non-profits (e.g. urban cycling organizations) which do not show the real deal with helmet efficacy. Most helmet companies also use a lot of hyperbole or even insults e.g. "I Love my Brain". If we don't wear helmets, we don't love our brains?

I am for infrastructure, training and enforcement that ensures that people on bikes and everyone else dwelling in, visiting or just using the street are as safe, social and have as much fun as they want.

4 comments:

Aaron said...

If you don't like the new helmet, don't buy it. Some of your points are valid but you essentially seek to shame others for their own choice over which helmet to wear. Don't wear one at all, that's your choice. Thankfully, how others spend their own money is not yours.

Slow Factory said...

Which points are valid, Aaron?

I include the point about opportunism because I have seen many examples of how the inventors talk about their product, even given its high price. They don't seem to really care about that, but I cannot tell what they are thinking.

I don't claim that the high price is intentional, just the result of a bad business plan. Therefore what I can say most concretely is that it is unintentional creation of a narcissistic object. Clothing designers do this all the time, though on purpose. I am giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Anonymous said...

The price is way to high! I would pay $200... but for$600 you can buy a car...

Anonymous said...

Single use. Sure. Think about how you really "use" a helmet. Keep in mind that when you actually employ a helmet's true function, that is by crashing and hitting your head, the life of the helmet can be considered, by some, as over. The helmet is considered exhausted as the integrity of the structure has now been compromised and so not reliable for another "use."

i have used 5 helmets in this fashion; 1 on the road and 4 on the dirt over 35 years of riding.