Three years ago, David Hall's life was turned upside down. The engineering student's sister was hit by a car while riding her bike in Philadelphia. While his sister laid in a coma, Hall and his family were asked the same question over and over again, "Was she wearing a helmet?"
This led Hall and his classmate Jordan Klein to ask, "Why wasn't she wearing a helmet?"
Through research, Hall and Klein learned most cyclists do not wear helmets. In 2012, a study by the Heidelberg University estimated that 29 percent of American adult cyclists always wore a helmet, while another 15 percent occasionally did. New York City does not require cyclists to wear them.
"Seeing the consequences first-hand and then seeing how big of a problem it was in the U.S., Jordan and I kind of looked at each other and said we have to do something about this," said Hall, whose sister eventually recovered from her injuries.
They came up with a helmet that is collapsible and fashionable, made using polycarbonate, EVA foam and a proprietary composite.
The two produced the gear in 2015 and took the top prize in the Red Bull Launch Institute, a competition for entrepreneurs.
Their Brooklyn-based startup, named Park and Diamond for the Philadelphia intersection where the crash occurred, is launching the helmet on the Indiegogo crowd funding website where it has already surpassed its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 and raised over $450,000 since mid-September.
The key features of the patented design are that helmet collapses with one hand to the size of a large water bottle, weighs 8 ounces and looks like a baseball cap.
"People hate traditional helmets so much, they just won't get on a bike if you require them to get on a helmet," Klein said.
Park and Diamond were able to design and test their product through their partnership with Urban X, a program that helps startups with product development.
Next up is getting the helmets on bicyclist's heads. "We've had inbound interest from basically every bike-share, e-scooter and mobility company," Klein said. "These companies see the challenges around their users not wearing helmets."
The co-founders have not cemented any partnerships yet but remain optimistic.
"Bike-share programs have issues attracting the female audience — it typically favors males two-to-one, in some cities as high as four-to-one, and all of our metrics have shown that we [helmets] trend with a higher majority towards females," Hall said. "Women are typically more safety conscientious and style conscientious."
Park and Diamond will initially be launching the helmet in black and grey, with more colors to roll out in the future.
The helmet is available for pre-order on Indiegogo for $84 through October.