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Why bicycle helmets are failing riders, and how to fix them

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The bicycle helmet has massively reduced the risk of death from cycling. But present-day helmets are sorely unable to protect riders from less catastrophic concussions that can cause serious long-term brain damage, says journalist Bruce Barcott at Bicycling. The hard plastic is designed to take the brunt of a hard blow, not absorb the impact of a softer one, and designing a helmet that can protect against both is proving difficult. Safety is also, Barcott argues, being held back by the very standards meant to uphold it. Researchers have worked on creating better helmets, but since the safety certification rules aren't developed with concussions in mind, there could be little incentive to adopt them. "We'd created a situation where good protection was available but no one gave a damn about it because you didn't need it to pass certification," says the head of MIPS, a company developing new helmet technology.