Driving along the road one day, I began to realize how much India has changed in regards to helmet awareness. The benefits of wearing a helmet are unquestionable. This simple tool saves thousands of lives and the risk of injury amongst helmet wearers is brought down by 50%! After extensive campaigns by the Indian Government and the recent increase in fines, the roads have transformed into a safer place for all, and almost every motorbike rider now wears a helmet. Everyone that is except for most women.
At first, this seemed highly unusual given that there are numerous fines for such behavior and awareness on the safety benefits of helmets is quite high. But then I started to notice a pattern. Almost every rider refraining from wearing a helmet tied their hair in a braid or ponytail. With this hairstyle quite prevalent in Indian culture, bike helmets – a basic safety measure – are rendered inconvenient, and frankly unusable for most women.
I spent a few days trying to conceive a helmet that provided a comfortable solution for such women by observing hairstyles and looking at the way women interact with helmets; this is what I came up with. This convenient helmet has a wedge shape cutout in the back of the helmet, which provides ample room for a ponytail or braid. Furthermore, the wedge elegantly blends into the overall design of the helmet providing the added benefit of being comfortable to wear for most women using cycles.
Anticipating safety concerns, I made sure that the helmet support on the sides of this wedge also protruded out as to avoid any direct impact to the head from any angle. In addition to providing the comfort of a traditional helmet, this product goes above and beyond with red LED fixtures that activate when an embedded accelerometer senses deceleration. This brake light adds an extra safety feature for users as riding a two-wheeler can be dangerous on roads with poor visibility.
Thousands of women use two-wheelers every day, and it’s odd how no such solution has been designed for women at the present. Helmets provide a crucial layer of safety, and maybe its time to start looking at design as a way to encourage helmet usage.