In 2019, crochet fiber artist Dartanya L. Croff was hit by a car while riding her bike at the corner of Rampart and St. Phillips streets. Croff said she remembers the day vividly. She was riding her bike home from work as a tour guide in the French Quarter when a car slammed into her at a stop sign.

Although she believes the driver had seen her, the accident gave her the idea to create crochet helmets that would stand out, and make her more visible. Today you can see Croff riding her bike through the city with tall, colorful crocheted hats atop her black helmet. 

“My whole motto is ride and be safe, but most importantly, ride and be seen,” Croff said. “Anybody can be safe, but are you seen? Can you be seen? That is a big thing for me.”

According to USAFacts, 938 cyclists died from traffic crashes nationally in 2020. The site notes that Florida had the highest cyclist fatality rate (0.78 deaths per 100,000) and Louisiana had the second highest (0.73 deaths per 100,000).  

Dartanya L. Croff, a crochet fiber artist, holds her crochet helmets. Her designs range from muppet and Sesame Street characters to Frosty the Snowman and the Easter Bunny. Credit: Nigell Moses/Verite

“People really don’t view you like a car, or a motorcycle,” Croff said. “With your helmet, you’re saying ‘I’m here.’”

After the accident, Croff went to the emergency room. She said she suffered severe injuries that required extended medical care. Croff said she endured chest pains, numbness throughout her body and a pinched nerve in her neck that spiraled into damaged nerve pain. She had to go to therapy three times a week. 

The crochet fiber artist said for two years, “I couldn’t touch a hook because holding a crochet hook and doing a simple single crochet line was too painful.”

Croff knew she had to do something different to make a statement.

Her crochet helmets come in colorful characters ranging from The Muppets to Frosty the Snowman and the Easter Bunny. She also wears a traffic cone-themed hat and one made like candy corn. She makes the headwear for her personal use but hopes her work helps spread the message about being aware of cyclists sharing the streets with motor vehicles.

After being hit by a car while riding her bike in 2019, Dartanya L. Croff started making crochet helmets. Her motto is: Ride and be safe, but most importantly ride and be seen. Credit: Nigell Moses/Verite

Croff’s crochet helmets symbolize strength and resilience. They also are an expression of her creativity, vibrant spirit, and visibility.  

“This is my way of helping drivers see bikers better,” Croff said. “I refuse to be a white bike, so all those white bikes around the city, that is terrifying to me, where I’m cautious of my surroundings.”

White bikes, also known as ghost bikes, are memorials to cyclists who have been killed on the streets of New Orleans.

With more than 50,000 followers on Tik Tok’s social media platform, Croff spreads awareness for bicyclists, empowers young Black women, and advocates against police brutality.

“I know what it feels like to be invisible,” said Croff. “And with me being a person that loves colors, everything I make has to be seen. I want you to see me.”

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New Orleans native Nigell Moses graduated summa cum laude from Xavier University of Louisiana with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication. She is a published contributing writer, with stories in The...