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Was out on Saturday and still trying to come to terms with how much the Christmas break has affected my 'performance'.

Anyway, I'm trundling up some 5% behind my co-rider, Kev, when I hear voices behind. Soon the first guy gets up to me and starts chattering away about "dayglo black" and "you can't be seen". I realise he's referring to the fact that both me and Kev are wearing black jackets, whereas he's wearing some kind of dull red colour.

I hear another guy get in behind me and exclaim: "I'm going to stick behind this!"- obviously a reference to me being a sizeable unit on the bike.

So my mood isn't exactly great and it gets worse as I reach the next junction behind them all and hear red-jacket giving a perplexed Kev yet more words of wisdom about "Can't be seen", "dangerous", "SMIDSY" etc. He's an older guy and probably means well so manfully I resist the urge to tell him to butt out and spotting a gap in the traffic, decide to be very zen about the whole thing and ride on.

Kev catches up and says: "That guy's been at the forums a bit," which cracked me up.

So, here I am, on the forum trying to figure out if there is a bit of anti-black jacket angst out there. Personally, I don't see that wearing black is inherently dangerous and I only ride in daylight on quiet roads anyway. If it's particularly dull or overcast I put my lights on. TBH I'm the size of a small car so if a driver can't see me then there's no hope for any of us, daglo jackets or no.

35 comments

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dodgy [186 posts] 3 years ago
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People get transfixed on dayglo green / orange being the only safe colour. I'd say the majority of novices to the sport are wearing dayglo. For me it's more about choosing colour/reflectivity based on weather conditions.

For instance, I have a few black jackets with embedded scotch-lite in them, you show up like a comedy Halloween skeleton in them under car head lights.

I do worry that the whole victim blame culture will see all cyclists forced to wear dayglo, then once that's happened, the motorists (or nazi cyclists) will find something else to blame us for.

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homercles [15 posts] 3 years ago
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Yep, none of his business what you choose to wear on the bike. As an aside, around London it seems to me that those people covered in 'dayglo' tend to be the ones with crappy and/ or badly placed lights on their bikes, or else no lights at all.

Good, well-positioned lights will trump colours for me any day.

(spoken as someone who occasionally wears black, occasionally dayglo)

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homercles [15 posts] 3 years ago
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Couldn't agree more re: this bit dodgy...

"I do worry that the whole victim blame culture will see all cyclists forced to wear dayglo, then once that's happened, the motorists (or nazi cyclists) will find something else to blame us for."

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Colin Peyresourde [1724 posts] 3 years ago
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Being seen isn't about the colour of your jacket. After quite a few rides these sh!tty dayglo colours fade and they just look pitiful. It's all about positioning and driver awareness. If you can see the driver can see you, then you don't have a problem. Quite often crappy cyclists in dayglo colours never look over their shoulder and don't position themselves well on the road.

I almost exclusively wear black - it's not that I particularly choose black, I just subconsciously like the stylings. Never been knocked off my bike either.

I also agree with Dodgy - it's about the road conditions too. Black is sometimes good because it contrasts with the lighting conditions.....scotch reflective strips also help in the poorest of light.

The majority of good cyclists I know don't ever go near the dayglo nonsense, and make their choices on aesthetics. It seems to me then that it has no bearing on your safety.

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NeilG83 [299 posts] 3 years ago
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I don't wear day-glo and have not been hit by a car yet. Most of my summer gear is bright red which stands out, but my cold weather kit is all black.
I think that if a car hits you in good conditions then they have no excuse; whatever you are wearing. What people wear when riding is a personal choice, but there was an interesting article in the Telegraph in October that suggests that hi-viz clothing is now so common it is less effective:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/9581969/Fluorescent-clothing-were-all-...
There is a law in France that cyclists must wear a hi-viz vest when cycling at night or when there is poor visibility.

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Richthornton [81 posts] 3 years ago
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Here's another article that you'll find interesting, basically suggesting that in the wrong weather conditions (bright low sun for instance) hi-vis clothing can blend into the scenery.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/bike-blog/2013/jan/10/cycling-high...

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Yorkshie Whippet [530 posts] 3 years ago
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I always thought that cold weather gear was black to absorb heat and keep you toasty or so the huge amount of muck doesn't show.

Got to admit it's fun destroying one of those "flashing budgies" after they've given you a mouthful about being dangerous.

In motorsport it's the movement not always the colour that alerts drivers to a situation.

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TheHound [117 posts] 3 years ago
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I guess these things are like anything, it's just common sense. If I was riding at night or poor visibility I'd certainly wear something a bit brighter.

Having said that I did get caught out in some fog last week in all black with no lights.

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MattT53 [146 posts] 3 years ago
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I'd say having something relatively brightly coloured on dull winter days is a fairly sensible shout. Doesn't need to be a full on flouro jacket, I got a nice yellow softshell this winter just to stand out a bit more and it looks pretty decent as well. I guess if you've got lights on anyway you don't need to worry though. Personal choice anyhow.

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fatbeggaronabike [815 posts] 3 years ago
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Alternatively you could... just put your headphones on that way you won't hear what the morons are saying  39

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bike_food [170 posts] 3 years ago
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I try to avoid black top half clothing and mainly go for white although I have just bought a waterproof jacket which is black, mainly due to it's price and performance so I'm clearly not that bothered about it.
As for the old boy chat I think you did well to hold back.

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hurns [6 posts] 3 years ago
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I wonder what will happen when the new sky kit hits the roads?

I agree with most on here and have some very colourful wear for the summer, mainly becouse I love retro jerseys but in the winter tend to wear black or dark red. The correct placement of lights and riding far outways the colour of your jersey.

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notfastenough [3685 posts] 3 years ago
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My best rain jacket (ie. for terrible weather conditions) is black. As for the fact that they sound like bike snobs, pick one:

a: "funny, I'm carrying all this extra weight, but I don't see you guys flying past me"

b: "yeah, but after a few thousand miles I'll be lighter, but you'll still be a cock!"

c: point out the next pothole and tell him to fix it

d: point out some kids and ask him if he's brought his lollipop

When everyone is hi-vis, no-one is. I reckon I'm most visible when out with the club and we're all in the same kit - regardless of colours, the uniformity amongst the surrounding random array of landscape, cars etc catches the eye.

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notfastenough [3685 posts] 3 years ago
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Oh, and I also seem to recall teachings from the military that people see things for the following reasons:

Shape, shine, silhouette, shadow, movement, contrast.

Of those, hi-vis accounts for just one.

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SammyG [274 posts] 3 years ago
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The fact you've posted makes me think you may be doubting your black attire!

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nostromo [55 posts] 3 years ago
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Nah, not really. It was the way in which the guy was spouting off all his "SMIDSY' talk that set me to thinking maybe black is a big problem for some people in the cycling 'community'.

I go riding for fitness, fun and a bit of calm. Last thing I need is some mouthy, opinionated (albeit well-intentioned) blow-hard trying to tell me off.

I was annoyed for a while but then I had other things to worry about, like being able to breathe ...

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Simon E [2723 posts] 3 years ago
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There are less patronising ways of giving advice, even when you hadn't asked for his 'expert' opinion. It suggests your rather new-found 'pal' is a bit of a knob.

I stopped wearing dark colours for riding after a colleague mentioned how I blended in with the hedgerow from a distance behind. Most of my commute is out of town so traffic speed is higher and standing out from the surroundings is important (though I'm allergic to hi-viz). However, I wear a black fleece if I'm riding into town and I don't appear to be any less visible than normal.

I've also spent time checking visibility of other cyclists. Orange is the most visible colour, followed by yellow then red. Black is OK only when the area behind the cyclist is a lighter colour, otherwise they blend in all to easily.

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 3 years ago
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I pretty much only wear black - a lot of my riding is in the dark so I tend to go for jackets with plenty of reflective material and that's it - and whatever time of day these day I tend to ride with my back light on.

Like SimonE I do check what other riders are wearing, my view is it different colours are more or less visible in different situations - in my experience none of them though make you invisible.

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 3 years ago
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notfastenough wrote:

My best rain jacket (ie. for terrible weather conditions) is black. As for the fact that they sound like bike snobs, pick one:

a: "funny, I'm carrying all this extra weight, but I don't see you guys flying past me"

b: "yeah, but after a few thousand miles I'll be lighter, but you'll still be a cock!"

c: point out the next pothole and tell him to fix it

d: point out some kids and ask him if he's brought his lollipop

.

I think notfastenough has got some good responses - the last is my favourite - better these than the short Anglo Saxon words he probably deserves for being a self-righteous twunt.

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pdows47 [103 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm mainly in black and blue coloured kit, cos I like the way it looks. My club kit is white, as are my summer jerseys, which I reckon looks cool and keeps you from getting too warm when its sunny

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MattT53 [146 posts] 3 years ago
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Essentially, if I remember my lectures on it correctly, the way the eye works is to really highlight areas of contrast within its field of view (although other factors like size matter too). As such whatever provides the most contrast to the surroundings will be most likely to draw attention. What colour this is will obviously depend on your surroundings. I'd probably avoid grey though ...

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Leviathan [1986 posts] 3 years ago
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I have several different kits with different colours, like blue, red, yellow and black (primaries, no messing around.) The main reason is less wear on any individual kits means they last longer; I can bung anything in the wash and still have plenty in the rota. I object to fluro yellow mainly because I don't want to look like a clone (clown.)

The idea that all cyclists should dress the same is preposterous and dare I say fascist. The Government would loose a lot of VAT of Rapha for a start

In my experience drivers often look but don't see anyway. I can be going along in bright sunshine, someone on the left is trying to pull out. They look at you then pull out anyway as if they looked because that is what they were supposed to do but could not register you or what speed you are doing because they didn't do it for long enough.

And lets not forget the classic, overtake then turn left immediately.

Good lights and good road position are more important.

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farrell [1950 posts] 3 years ago
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I always agree with people when they start banging on about what cyclists should and shouldnt wear, coercing them towards the suggestion "maybe all people who own bikes should be forced to wear a special logo, something like two dayglo yellow triangles perhaps" and then see if/when the penny drops for them.

For the record, I wear plenty of hi-vis gear, I dont own anything fluorescent.

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SammyG [274 posts] 3 years ago
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From my experience driving high vis clothing is much easier for me to see both at night time and during the day.

As such I always wear high vis clothing, I wouldnt go giving out grief to dark clothed riders though.

If someones lights are out I would say something though for the riders safety.

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koko56 [330 posts] 3 years ago
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Yes a brighter colour will be more visible than black but it's not the whole picture.

Just ride - it's too easy to get literally brain washed into thinking what's "good/bad" that you start to forget what is actually happening. Some people will have cult like behaviour about it or anything else - component, bike, clothing. More of it will be to justify their commitment to the delusion than actual sense. Looking at it that way you would have more inclination to feel sorry in a non-malicious way.

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Kapelmuur [323 posts] 3 years ago
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I want drivers to see me and, before reading this thread, thought they were more likely to if I wore bright colours.

Now, to add to all my other feelings of inadequacy on the bike, I'll be fretting that real cyclists are viewing my hi vis jacket with contempt.

And I don't like black  20

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cborrman [85 posts] 3 years ago
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you have to ask yourself:

1) if you crash into a black cab would you think of saying "sorry guv, didn't see your cab coz it was black"???

2) how many times have you, as a cyclist, nearly gone into the back of another cyclist because they were wearing black?

If you are looking where you are going and going at a sensible speed without distraction of music, phone, talking, daydreaming, etc: you will see a cyclist no matter what they are wearing! the "could not see you" excuse is as poor as the "she was asking for it" argument!

Another myth is that all cyclists are nice people... they are drawn from the same pool as motorists, politicians and bankers, in fact a lot of them are the latter!

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cborrman [85 posts] 3 years ago
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Crosshouses wrote:

I want drivers to see me and, before reading this thread, thought they were more likely to if I wore bright colours.

Now, to add to all my other feelings of inadequacy on the bike, I'll be fretting that real cyclists are viewing my hi vis jacket with contempt.

And I don't like black  20

finally people in high viz jackets start to get it...  3

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hairybiker [12 posts] 3 years ago
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We see plenty of 'real' cyclists enjoying the roads locally, camouflaging themselves into the gloom of hedgerows and overhanging trees.
Perhaps they enjoy the thrill of the oncoming vehicle overtaking and driving straight at them, or the buzz of a near miss from a vehicle passing too close?
Making an attempt at being visible gives other road users the option of forward planning rather than reacting to something in an instant.
Unfortunately, given the choice of hitting an on-coming vehicle or getting too close to the cyclist you haven't seen 'til the last minute, most drivers will take the latter!

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Squiggle [403 posts] 3 years ago
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I have 1 item of bright yellow clothing, an ultralight windproof jacket that squashes up smaller than my fist. My favourite cold weather tops are all black but if it's dull then I'll often pull half of the dayglow sleeve out of my back pocket so that it flutters behind me like a drogue chute. Cool or uncool?

PS "I'm just going to sit behind this!"  24
That's asking for a bitch-slap!

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