Paper Pulp Helmet by Tom Gottelier,
Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas

| 24 comments

A group of Royal College of Art graduates has used the pulp from mulched newspapers to form helmets for London's cycle hire scheme (+ movie).

Paper Pulp Helmet by Tom Gottelier, Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas

Tom Gottelier, Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas took discarded free newspapers strewn around the city's public transport system and used them to make paper mache.

Paper Pulp Helmet by Tom Gottelier, Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas

The pulp was mixed with adhesive and pigment then vacuum-formed into shape, before being heated to dry it out.

Paper Pulp Helmet by Tom Gottelier, Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas

Straps slot into grooves that criss-cross the top of the helmet, clipping together under the chin like the standard design.

Paper Pulp Helmet by Tom Gottelier, Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas

The surface inside the helmet is also bevelled so air can flow through and keep the head cool.

Paper Pulp Helmet by Tom Gottelier, Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas

Each helmet would cost around £1 and could be sold in a vending machine or nearby shops, offering low-cost safety equipment for London's Barclays "Boris Bike" cycle sharing scheme.

Paper Pulp Helmet by Tom Gottelier, Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas

Other Royal College of Art graduates presented a kit allowing musicians to control sound and lighting at their gigs and wooden shoes based on furniture and engineering at the school's show, which continues until 30 June.

Paper Pulp Helmet by Tom Gottelier, Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas

New York City recently launched its own bicycle sharing scheme, with 6000 bikes available across Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.

Paper Pulp Helmet by Tom Gottelier Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas

We've also featured an inflatable helmet that fold away into a collar or scarf and a bollard with a foot rest and handle to help cyclists keep their balance at traffic lights.

Paper Pulp Helmet by Tom Gottelier Bobby Petersen and Ed Thomas

See more design for cycling »
See more projects by Royal College of Art students »

  • mlk

    What about its safety abilities? Was it crash tested? Also there remains a problem, which is with almost all helmets: they’re ugly.

  • Juyoung

    Safety test?

  • Phil

    Sorry to break the news to you… London is kind of known for it’s rain! What will it become in 10 minutes?

    • name

      Sorry to break the news to you… London has an average rainfall quite below the average of lots of other big cities. And cycling in London is so convenient because it only rarely rains hard for longer periods of time. British people are just very sensitive to everything that comes from the sky :)

      • Concerned Citizen

        I have been to London several times. It always rains. It is never a light rain. It lasts for days.

      • Fed

        I live in London. It does rain a lot.

  • Jeka

    Great idea!

  • Mario

    The material has some potential as impact absorbing, but has no rigidity whatsoever. The straps are insufficient. There is no ventilation. Idiotic and lazy. Please invest more time on the product than working on publicity.

    • dan

      I think it’s a great idea, maybe it’s not finished but I saw it in the Metro, which said it has met the EU safety standards so don’t jump to conclusions, and I guess the adhesive is strong enough to overcome the rain factor. Also, read the article, it is ventilated.

  • Prole

    Pulp helmet. Pulp brains.

  • Youyuan

    Good video, bad design!

  • Olly

    I would rather risk my life than wear that!

  • vincent

    I don't want to sound like a tool, but I just hate bicycle helmets.
    It sucks all the pleasure out of cycling. It also makes you look like an idiot, regular helmets as well as the piece of rubbish from the article.

    I fortunately live in the Netherlands and we have a massive cycling infrastructure full of safety measures that makes helmets unnecessary. And if the government ever dares to consider obligating helmets, I think 80% of the population will protest it.

    • beatrice

      Amsterdam moves around at a snail’s pace. You still need a bike helmet if you travel on a faster highway. Or do you have a special “no fall over” zero maintainence bike so you can go fast? I think they use helmets in the Tour de France. That’s got quite a good cycling infrastructure.

      Can’t stand that romantic world vision. Admit it: you just choose not to wear a helmet. There is no such thing as a safety measure that makes helmets unnecessary.

      • vincent

        Admit that I just choose not to wear a helmet? Duh, that’s what I said. What’s your point?

        The inner city of Amsterdam is not representative of the Netherlands. Almost the entire country is rather low-density. Cyclist lanes are everywhere and bikes are used everywhere. Why? Because it’s cheap! Not because we are some kind of romantic liberal hippy country like some tourists seem to think. It’s actually rather conservative. No romanticism involved.

        “Falling over” is just ridiculous, the gyroscopic effect prevents that. Collisions are dangerous, but the entire country is paved with separate bicycle lanes and smart designed crossings. [Youtube search: junction design cycle friendly]

        Every kid learns to ride a bike and every car driver has learned to drive with cyclists and related traffic laws in mind. So NOBODY wears a helmet, not kids, not the elderly, no pregnant woman. Only a part of the racing cyclists chooses to wear a helmet because they can reach 50km/h (and the mentally handicapped – that was actually serious, no joke).

        You know what I can’t stand? Your uninformed biased vision. Cycling is just as safe as walking, as long as cars keep their distance.

        • beatrice

          Right. So your proposal is to overhaul the entire transport system so that people can cycle safely like the massively less populated areas of rural Holland? You cite this as a solution?

          So, someone comes up with a safety solution that responds to the current bad situation and you refer to it as “rubbish” because it “makes you look stupid”? Your arguement is based on aesthetics? How shallow.

          Brilliant advice, divvy. Well you know what, while we are waiting for your action on sorting out the entire transport system of London to make it feel like a flat massively underpopulated country, why don’t you just STFU and let others design for the real problems we live with.

          Both the Netherlands and Scandanavia have the luxury of being extremely thinly populated. Using them is a model is called romanticism. Open your eyes.

          • Vincend

            Read my first comment again and moderate your aggressive tone a bit. I’m actually surprised the mods let you use things like “STFU”.

            I don’t understand what your problem is. You’re actually writing such a lot of nonsense I don’t know how to react. Like comparing the densities of Scandinavia with the Netherlands. My first comment was indeed from the Dutch perspective and that’s a good perspective. You should learn from it instead of attacking me. The infrastructure is in the entire country. Making safe infrastructure is a good thing to do for a city like London and its low-density surroundings. Just implement it step by step. And yes, I could actually draw such infrastructure.

            This helmet is not a good safety measure, you seriously don’t want that thing on your head. Real helmets are thoroughly tested and are still massively uncomfortable. I perceive it as just a recycling project. Not an attempt to bring my beloved cycling to the masses.

            Helmets that make you look like an idiot are not an minor thing. Just like the discomfort guaranteed they will give you. It make the difference between adoption or rejection by the masses. That’s not shallow at all.

          • beatrice

            So… if the helmet passed the safety specifications for a single use journey you would retract your suggestion?

            “This helmet is not a good safety measure, you seriously don’t want that thing on your head.” And how exactly do you know this? Or more likely you have a fundamentalist bias against cycling helmets that some people like to wear for the cycle unfriendly streets of London. Thought so.

            You are the one making ridiculous comparisons between London and Holland. Like I say, once you sort out the entire streets of London flowing with complex traffic, please come back here repost to tell us. In the mean time, don’t come here throwing negative commentary on an original safety idea. A single-use bike helmet that accompanies a single-use occasional bike. Right now, it’s an ugly design, and possibly untested, but still it’s a simple and conceptually original idea. It displays massive arrogance to bash a new safety concept that responds to a common problem that people using these bikes face.

            Oh and R.E. “aggressive tone” do you mean when you said “It also makes you look like an idiot, regular helmets as well as the piece of rubbish from the article” in your original post? Pffft. Pur-lease.

  • beatrice

    Kinda ugly, but a brilliant idea. It really doesn’t matter if it’s untested. This is a smart concept object. A single trip bike helmet. That’s pretty original. Who carries a bike helmet just in case they get on a hire bike each day? There’s a customer base already.

    Leave it to the producer to figure out the safety tolerances and alter the design, sheesh.

    Interesting to think where this would be sold? At newsagents near bike stands? That’s also kind of nice and circular.

    Hope they solve the look of it though – looks like a damn cauliflower right now – very much doubt anyone would wear that, which is also a critical design aspect.

  • violet

    Great concept!

  • joey

    What happens if it rains?

    • beatrice

      The composite doesn't have to be papery and non-waterproof.
      You can mix paper with anything, it's just a bulking agent.

  • Concerned Citizen

    What is it about bike riders that causes such horribly ugly designs?

  • http://www.sfm-tusker.com/products/ppe-protective-clothing/leather-welding-protective-clothing-ppe/ Alan Murfee

    This helmet is a quite a nice safety element for cycling. I wish I could use this for the welding and other construction-related tasks as well.