Swedish company Hövding has announced a partnership with Absolutely, one of Britain’s oldest courier businesses, that will see it supply the London-based firm with its innovative airbag cycle ‘helmet’.
In a joint press release, the companies say that “many professional couriers shun helmets because they are uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time and are perceived to be ‘useless’ in the event of an accident.”
The tie-up between the firms seeks to address that perceived problem, enabling Absolutely “to further expand its safety measures for its push-bike couriers and increase their protection when delivering within the capital.”
The announcement coincides with the start of a three-month trial, with couriers wearing the airbag – which is stowed in a neck collar, with a gas cylinder deploying it when necessary – also sporting Absolutely x Hövding cycling jerseys.
While Absolutely sounds like – and indeed is – a 21st Century brand name, the business behind it can trace its heritage back more than 150 years, when it was founded as G. Thompson Ltd, using Welsh Cobs to transport people and goods around London by horse and cart.
It’s now owned by the fifth generation of the founder’s family, and managing director Jeremy Thompson said: “We pride ourselves on our knowledge, experience and heritage as well as the safety of our people.
“Hövding is a good example of deploying technology in our business for the benefit of our cycle couriers and leading the way in London.
“We very much hope to see this world-leading technology being deployed not only within our business but also throughout the UK to reduce injuries and fatalities.
“According to TFL’s 2015 report released in June 2016, there were 387 serious cyclist injuries in London, of which nine were fatalities.”
Not all of those incidents would have resulted in the cyclist sustaining a head injury, and even where they did, it is debatable whether a helmet – airbag, or otherwise – might have prevented it.
Mr Thompson added: “Ensuring our couriers have adequate protection is of paramount importance to us and following our partnership with Hövding, we intend to lead the field.”
Hövding CEO Fredrik Carling said that his company “is always looking for opportunities to partner up with other forward-thinking companies that encourage and promote cycling safety.
“Absolutely is a tremendous ambassador for our product and we are proud to be a part of an initiative that will improve the safety of hard-working couriers.
“Additionally, we hope that by having a successful partnership we can effectively introduce our product and drastically reduce the number of road deaths in the UK,” he added.
Wearing a helmet while cycling is recommended under the Highway Code, but is not compulsory under UK law – although where someone rides a bike in the course of their employment, using one could be a condition imposed by their employer’s insurers.