An Airbag for Cyclists

In my recent Equipped article on bike lights, reflectors, and high visibility clothing ("Now You See Me"), I mention in the lead paragraph:

"Fast-moving, fourwheeled danger is everywhere in the urban jungle—and no seat belts or airbags protect cyclists in the event of a collision."

Turns out that I was wrong. Airbags for cyclists actually do exist, thanks to the pioneering research and development of two Swedish designers. After more than six years of work, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin have perfected the Hövding ("Chieftain"), an inflatable airbag that envelops a cyclist's head in the event of a collision.

The airbag is located in a collar worn around the neck. When abnormal motion is detected, sensors in the Hövding trigger release of the airbag, which takes a mere 0.1 second to fully inflate. Once inflated, the airbag wraps snugly around the head for impact protection. Check out these YouTube videos to see it in action.

A rechargeable battery powers the sensors and inflation device (Hövding uses helium). The Hövding even features a removable nylon shell, which can be interchanged with other colors to better match cyclists' fashion tastes.

You can read more about it on the Hövding web site, though it currently only exists in Swedish. (Here's the Google-translated version.) The Hövding is expected to go on sale in Europe in Spring 2011 (~$400). No word yet on an American release.

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.

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