Scottish-based cyclewear manufacturer Endura has designed a "one-of-a-kind" product, dubbed "the world's most graphic cycle helmet" using the CAT scans of cyclists who suffered brain injuries in life-threatening crashes, and cited "the risks too many cyclists continue to take" by not wearing one as the motivation for the project.
The brand said its research suggests almost half (45 per cent) of cyclists in the UK do not wear a helmet, something director Noah Bernard says it hopes to "encourage the cycling community to do" and not ignore "the risks too many cyclists continue to take" by not wearing one.
Named Project Heid, the four helmets will be auctioned on behalf of The Brain Charity and were created with input from Liverpool-based neurologists. They feature four CAT scans of real-life brain injuries suffered by cyclists in life-threatening crashes.
One features the scan of Ian Charlesworth, 62, who was struck by the driver of an HGV in 2019, while another features John Moroney's, a cyclist injured in a collision with the driver of a 4x4 in Bristol.
Both men were cycling without head protection, Endura is quick to point out, and suffered skull fractures, brain injuries and neurological abnormalities such as haemorrhage and contusion, leading to cognitive impairment struggles including memory loss, fatigue and vertigo.
"The one-of-a-kind helmets are intentionally provocative, quite literally showing the potential consequences if you choose to ride unprotected," Endura suggests.
Pushing the helmets alongside research to mark Brain Awareness Week, Endura says its study showed two-thirds of Brits are concerned about sustaining a brain injury whilst cycling.
"We understand the importance of ensuring that more people on Britain's roads and trails are wearing helmets," brand director Bernard said. "We want to encourage the entire cycling community to do so. Ian and John's accounts are eye-opening reminders of the risks too many cyclists continue to take, and we thank them for bravely helping us to raise awareness with their incredible stories."
Adding to the comments, Nanette Mellor, the CEO of The Brain Charity said: "We call our head our nut and think of it as a hard object, but our brain is extremely vulnerable.
"Our skull has been likened to a tough ceramic, which can shatter upon impact, while the brain inside is like a firm blancmange. Just how fragile our brain is shows how important the need for protection is. Our brain is the most complex structure in the universe, and the most important part of who we are.
"It runs our whole world, moves our body, makes our decisions, and tells us when to smile and what we can smell. It houses our most precious memories, hidden dreams and the thousands of subtle differences that make us who we are.
"The impact of damage to the brain can be catastrophic, and that's why we are proud to partner with Endura to draw awareness to the importance of wearing a helmet when cycling to protect your brain."
Last month, Channel 5 presenter Dan Walker said he was "glad to be alive" after being hit by a driver while cycling at a roundabout in Sheffield. Walker said his helmet "saved my life" and told his social media followers "if you're on a bike — get one on your head".
The 45-year-old claimed that a police officer and paramedics who attended the scene told him that he would not be here now if he was not wearing one, but in the inevitable debate that ensued others suggested prioritising helmets is an example of 'car-brained' victim-blaming culture, with safe infrastructure and action on dangerous and careless driving more important.
Chris Boardman, the former Olympic champion-turned-active travel champion, in 2014 described the "helmet issue" as a "massive red herring" which is "not even in the top ten of things you need to do to keep cycling safe or more widely, save the most lives".
Endura's announcement comes after the recent launch of its latest helmet technology, combining Koroyd technology, which the brand says absorbs energy on impact, with Mips, a brain protection system which helps reduce force transition. The importance of latest protective technologies is supported by research, Endura says, with the risk of traumatic brain injury upon peak accident impact reduced by up to 60 per cent when wearing a helmet that includes energy-absorbing technologies (such as Mips).
Helmet safety is of course a hotly debated topic, psychologist Dr Ian Walker of the University of Bath, concluding that motorists tend to give more space to cyclists not wearing helmets, therefore lowering the possibility of a collision.
A 2017 review by statisticians at the University of New South Wales found that, based on 40 separate studies, helmet use significantly reduced the odds of head injury, and that the probability of suffering a fatal head injury was lower when cyclists wore a helmet (though, the authors noted, helmets cannot eliminate the risk of injury entirely).
Another study from the same year, this time from Norway's Institute of Transport Economics, concluded – based on an overview of almost 30 years' worth of analysis – that bike helmets reduced head injury by 48 per cent, serious head injury by 60 per cent, traumatic brain injury by 53 per cent, facial injury by 23 per cent, and the total number of killed or seriously injured cyclists by 34 per cent.
However, while helmets have proved useful when it comes to lessening the potential severity of a serious head injury, other research points to less effectiveness when it comes to preventing concussion, a reality of their protective limitations recognised by only one in five competitive cyclists, according to a recent study.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.