Do you wear Hi Vis (High Visibility) clothing or adornments?
Personally I'm a big fan of High Visibility clothing when cycling and never go anywhere without a bright coloured top, usually with reflective panels or stripes.
If I’m riding somewhere and don’t wish to stand out when I get there, I’ll slip on my fluorescent Hi Vis wait coat – easily folds to nothing and sits inside my helmet when I arrive.
I just figure that the more visible I am, the more easily I can be seen and the safer I’ll be.
I always feel somewhat puzzled though when I see people that look like they are trying to make themselves invisible to drivers.
Case example being - when driving into the Central Market around sunset last night I saw a man with a black bike, black pants, grey top and black and grey backpack. Perfectly colour coordinated but at dusk, on a grey road he was almost impossible to see. No lights or fluorescent straps to help him be seen in the peak hour traffic.
At night I see some people riding with great headlights and flashing rear lights and feel quite envious of these safety features. I don’t ride at night because lights of this quality (while I’m sure they are good value for money) are not cheap and I wouldn’t feel safe enough with something more affordable.
Its a different mind set over there, I agree but over here, its a new trend that has started and there is no history to speak of where people would even consider riding to work.
Thats why so many Australians are so frigging fat and have to get lap band surgery or such like.
I rode in Germany for 12 years, in fact all over the world and its a way of life and people(drivers) know to look for cyclists, here they look for cars(if u r lucky).
There is no way in wear dorky high vis on a bike either, I do for work when on site as its law but while its not law on the road, I wear what I like and usually black or white with good lighting when called for.
Riding in high traffic areas does call for full alert and i always consider the drivers to be asleep at the helm and I am usually right, no ne sees a bike, they are quiet and small and the human eye is not trained to look for bikes yet neither were many of us when we learned to drive so used to seeing bikes in traffic.
Riding is dangerous, so we all do what we feel is best practise to stay alive.
See, I don't think riding is dangerous, at least much less dangerous than cleaning your kitchen on a two step ladder or playing rugby or skiing or many other activities that have much higher accident/injury rate.
The core of the problem is that newbies (especially women) get unreasonably scared by public image that is painted by all sorts of groups:
The government for telling you that you require protective equipment to ride a bike, the security lobby for telling you to protect yourself and wear hi viz and all that, the experienced cyclists (i.e. you and me) for telling you that riding a bike in traffic is dangerous, to watch out for lorries and stuff like that, and every other person that proudly presents stories of close calls and near misses without balancing this out in conversation.
And the end result is that people are scared to ride 1 or 2 km on comfy bike lanes in central adelaide outside of peak hours, which in comparison to my London commute is a very comfy ride and by no standards a very challenging or dangerous one either.
That is not to say that certain roads, crossings etc cannot be tricky or outright dangerous, but I think it's important to tell a beginner that they can be very comfy and secure on quiet roads, and if it gets too busy or difficult to navigate they can always get off, push across the road to the next quiet street and continue their calm and relaxing journey.
I am old enough to remember when many Australians did ride to work. (1950s) ,but we now have several generations of Australians that know only the car, and that of course includes the decision makers and politicians. (Terry C - - lycra wearing and no Hi-Vis ! )
There was a hi-viz cycling jacket auctioned on ebay a while back as an INVISIBILITY CLOAK...
This thread has a copy of the original ad plus the Q&A - which was a bit of a laugh.
WATERPROOF CYCLING JACKET / INVISIBILITY CLOAK
Like all good waterproof Day-Glo cycling jackets, this will allow you to simmer in your own sweat on your commute to work and enable you to look like a complete pr1ck when you have to wear it around town in your lunch hour.
But what really makes this jacket stand out are its powers of invisibility. Slip it on, get on your bike and you completely disappear. It has to be seen to be believed.
Only this evening, in stationary traffic, I was able to topple onto a car and bang my fist repeatedly on the bonnet before the driver realised there was a presence RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER. Even when I shouted she was not able to look upon me – for I was in the mighty invisibility cloak!
The magic moments didn’t end there. Minutes later, riding through Moss Side, a young chap pulled in and opened his car door right in front of me. Bless. My disembodied shouting must have spooked the poor boy, because he and his friend then began hurling random abuse in my general direction, grabbing their crotches (their own not each others’) and waving their arms about in a gun shootin’ stylee. Now, I’m not sure if the jacket’s special powers include bullet proofability. But that worked out well, because as they got back in the car I got the chance to do an impromptu MAX Heart Rate test – big numbers. Cool.
Finally, I put the jacket / invisibility cloak through its paces by smiling at several pretty girls as I cycled past. Nothing. They looked straight through me. Incredible.
If you are thinking of bidding on this cycling jacket / invisibility cloak because you’re a Harry Potter fan, it won’t fit. Because it is an ADULT size. And Harry Potter is for children.
I love this post. I used to wear the plastic high viz vests all the time but they aren't very stylish so I started making my own from corn fibre and a reflective yarn I got from China. I started selling them late last year but they weren't very popular so I thought I'd just leave them.
I don't know what's happened in the last few weeks but suddenly they seem to have taken off and I've been making orders constantly. So much so that I was asked if they came in anything other than fluro and so I made some in an orange and red flax linen that I'd originally planned to use.
I was interested to read about the knee and ankle reflective strips as I recently designed over-the-knee legwarmers with reflective stripes at the knee and ankle.
I'm a big believer in being visible and even if some people are blind to cyclists, I always feel better knowing that I've taken responsiblity for myself while on the road.
Angelina, do you have a web site.
The reflective leg-warmers sound interesting from another aspect in that no need to take off and on to suit if cycling or walking or at destination.
In Jan-2012 during TDU several cycling things on, including reflective fashionable cycling clothing displayed in the basement of the stock exchange building. I went for a second look but closed. There was an amusing jumper with a skull head pattern knitted into it. Would this encourage drivers to 'see' cyclists? Particularly like a blousson evening top which had thin stands of reflective tape knitted through it. Understand the fashion artists glued reflective tape together so reflective on both sides, then cut into thin strips. A reflective yarn sounds easier.
Being invisible to traffic makes you harder to aim at. ;)