Someone's been reading too many forums

by nostromo   January 14, 2013  

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.

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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...

Richthornton's picture

posted by Richthornton [99 posts]
14th January 2013 - 11:52

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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.

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [344 posts]
14th January 2013 - 12:42

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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.

Violence is not the answer, but it will do until we find out what is.

posted by TheHound [67 posts]
14th January 2013 - 12:43

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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.

posted by MattT53 [129 posts]
14th January 2013 - 12:48

23 Likes

Alternatively you could... just put your headphones on that way you won't hear what the morons are saying Thinking

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posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [605 posts]
14th January 2013 - 12:57

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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.

posted by bike_food [123 posts]
14th January 2013 - 13:11

19 Likes

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.

posted by hurns [9 posts]
14th January 2013 - 13:17

15 Likes

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.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3475 posts]
14th January 2013 - 13:19

21 Likes

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.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3475 posts]
14th January 2013 - 13:32

17 Likes

The fact you've posted makes me think you may be doubting your black attire!

posted by SammyG [295 posts]
14th January 2013 - 14:57

27 Likes

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 ...

nostromo's picture

posted by nostromo [65 posts]
14th January 2013 - 15:29

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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.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2062 posts]
14th January 2013 - 16:02

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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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posted by Tony Farrelly [4160 posts]
14th January 2013 - 16:19

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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.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
14th January 2013 - 16:38

22 Likes

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

posted by pdows47 [103 posts]
14th January 2013 - 17:10

23 Likes

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 ...

posted by MattT53 [129 posts]
14th January 2013 - 17:21

23 Likes

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.



I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1434 posts]
14th January 2013 - 17:35

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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.

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
14th January 2013 - 18:40

23 Likes

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.

posted by SammyG [295 posts]
14th January 2013 - 19:28

32 Likes

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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posted by koko56 [334 posts]
15th January 2013 - 4:19

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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 Crying

Crosshouses's picture

posted by Crosshouses [216 posts]
15th January 2013 - 16:39

22 Likes

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!

roadie come mountain biker come single speeder and back again

posted by cborrman [84 posts]
15th January 2013 - 17:08

19 Likes

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 Crying

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

roadie come mountain biker come single speeder and back again

posted by cborrman [84 posts]
15th January 2013 - 17:12

24 Likes

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!

posted by hairybiker [13 posts]
15th January 2013 - 17:25

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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!" Rolling On The Floor
That's asking for a bitch-slap!

Sq

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posted by Squiggle [414 posts]
16th January 2013 - 1:14

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I yelled a torrent of abuse at a moron dressed in all black two nights ago. I have to say it wasn't just because of the black, more to do with the fact that he had no lights, nothing reflective, and was on the wrong side of the bike path. Wearing dayglo yellow would have been a step up, but not as big a step as having lights on would have been.
On the other hand, last night, as it snowed, the guys in black stood out more against the white background than the guys in light colours did. But still, people with lights stood out more.
So I say make sure you are visible and ride in the right place, but visible doesn't have to mean dayglo.

I'm riding the 2013 Giro d'Italia for charity! Check it out and follow my progress live at www.tourletour.com

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posted by Tour Le Tour [91 posts]
16th January 2013 - 9:13

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I always wonder which comes first, the sighting of the cyclist or the colour they're wearing. Did you spot the cyclist because he/she was wearing hi-viz, or just notice they were wearing it?

Wardy

Wardy74's picture

posted by Wardy74 [22 posts]
20th January 2013 - 21:20

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To the "real cyclists don't wear hi-vis" school of thought, in a radio discussion a few weeks ago, Graham Obree said that he would personally ban shops from selling black cycling gear. Good luck trying to destroy that "flashing budgie" if you meet him on the roads.

Personally, I think hi-vis is useful in town and in unlit country roads as I want to have a passive back up to lights, but dont want to rely on reflective materials that depend on a drivers headlights being properly aligned and working. However, when you have as many lumps and bumps as I do, black is definitely an attractive option for jerseys.

In short, I wear what I want and anyone who tries to impose an orthodoxy on what cyclists should wear, one way or the other, can [insert expletive of choice] off!

posted by FMOAB [238 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 23:29

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I only wear reflective colours when cycling during rush-hour, and/or during low-visibility condictions such as night or poor weather.

But for christ sake, let people wear what they want.

As long as you don't wear all black with no lights or reflectors during the night you should be fine Tongue

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posted by seabass89 [235 posts]
25th January 2013 - 12:14

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It's been a good discussion for sure, with some very reasoned comments.

I've zero interest in being hit by a car but I also hate the idea of it being mandatory to wear hi-viz or fluorescent clothing.

Personally, I think lights are the way to go, particularly as modern LEDs are cheap and discrete when worn/carried and effective. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that lights should be on at all times during the winter months.

From memory, Ron Hill clothing for running developed jackets featuring carry points for lights (rear). You'd think with all the technical advancements in LED lighting that shaped panels could be incorporated into jackets, maybe even light sensitive so that they come on when light levels drop.

I shall continue to wear my black winter jacket though and balls to anyone who tells me different.

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posted by nostromo [65 posts]
25th January 2013 - 14:08

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