Bicycle helmets with removable, stylish hats have been created to entice elderly Japanese to wear a helmet when riding a bike. The hats are designed so they can also be worn without the helmet.
Bicycle helmets are rarely worn by the elderly in Japan. Seniors say they’d like to wear safety helmets, but the helmets are uncomfortable. Elderly cyclists also say they are embarrassed about wearing traditional bike helmets.
A national law requires only bicyclists under the age of 13 to wear a helmet, whether alone or when riding as passengers with a parent on a bicycle. Some municipalities have enacted local laws that require all bicyclists to wear a helmet. In 2013, Ehime Prefecture, with its numerous scenic bike paths, enacted a law requiring cyclists of all ages to wear a helmet.
The Japanese government advises adults to wear a helmet when cycling, but it is uncommon to see adult cyclists wearing helmets as they run errands by bicycle on city streets. Although when the activity is recreational riding, along a riverside path for example, bike riders wearing helmets can be seen.
The Tokyo Foundation for Employment Services, which provides employment opportunities to the elderly, asked Nippon Parade, a manufacturer of caps and costumes for marching bands, to develop a bicycle helmet that would be attractive to the elderly. Nippon Parade, which was looking for new business opportunities, developed a hat-helmet concept. The company had the skills and design equipment which allowed it to create a lightweight helmet and a selection of fashionable hats that are easy to remove from the helmet.
The hat covers the helmet, and a quick-release system frees the hat from the helmet. The hat can be worn by itself.
According to Manabu Ito, president of Nippon Parade, more than 6% of deaths aged 65 and older in in the metropolitan area are caused by bike accidents, and head injury accounts for nearly 7% of the bike accident deaths. Nippon Parade makes helmets that meet strict strict international safety standards, and offers 10 types of fashionable detachable hats.
The helmets, start at JPY 7,580, and are sold by Nippon Parade online, cycling shops, and major electronics retailers.