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Autoglass urvey sparks another hi-viz debate…though cyclists' call for better infrastructure not so widely reported...

A third of cyclists think that road safety could be improved by legislating for compulsory hi-viz clothing, research has found.

A survey of 1,000 cyclists carried out on behalf of Autoglass, of whom 30 per cent were predominantly commuters as opposed to leisure cyclists, also found that when it came to safety, half supported the idea of more cycle lanes, a third wanted compulsory cycling proficiency tests, while only 16 per cent supported lower speed limits for drivers - although these figures were not reported by the windscreen repair company.

Those sampled for the study, evenly split between men and women, were in general more likely to use a helmet than not (60%) and one in four already regularly used hi viz clothing.


More interestingly, only 42 per cent regularly used a front light, and even fewer - 27 per cent, a rear light. 15 per cent said they listened to music while cycling - the survey used the word "admitted", we're not sure what the figures are for drivers who 'admit' to listening to musch are but we are sure they are considerably higher. Listening to music is of course legal whatever type of private vehicle you are in charge of.

Almost half (48%) admitted being caught out without lights or high-vis clothing when the clocks go back - predominantly younger riders in this sample. Commuter cyclists are most likely to be unwittingly caught out, with 63 per cent saying they forgot to take the basic equipment needed to make themselves be seen on the road on their cycle home from work.

The research found that young cyclists are amongst the most likely to be unprepared for the clocks going back. 60 per cent of 18-24 year olds did not pack lights or hi-viz clothing, and 50 per cent of this age group confessed to having had an accident or near miss whilst riding a bike – a higher proportion than the older respondents surveyed.

According to the Department for Transport’s latest figures, 118 cyclists were killed on Britain’s roads in 2012, up from 107 in 2011 and accounting for 7% of all road deaths. The number of cyclists seriously injured increased by 4 per cent to 3,222.

Matthew Mycock, Managing Director at Autoglass said: “Cyclists are the only group of road users at increased risk of injury and death on the roads over recent years and ‘stealth-cycling’ shouldn’t be an option. It’s crucial that cyclists do all they can to protect themselves and standing out with high visibility clothing can help to save lives.

“This is why, linked to our partnership with Brake, we are supporting the Brake ‘Bright Day’ campaign to remind cyclists to think about their winter cycling equipment this weekend and get ready for the darker evenings, and to remind drivers to watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.

“Remembering to use simple items such as bike lights, high visibility jackets, brightly coloured clothes, glow-in-the-dark stickers and reflectors will ensure better safety in the months ahead”.

In fact, hi viz clothing alone is not necessarily the best protection a cyclist can take.


In an Australian study, it was discovered that reflective patches on the moving parts of a cyclist’s body were the most effective way to be seen in the dark.

It found that while only 27 per cent of older drivers noticed a cyclist in black clothing with no lights riding in the dark, 100 per cent of younger drivers spotted a rider in a bright vest with ankle and knee reflectives, whether or not they had a light.

Earlier this year we reported the remarks of a coroner in New Zealand, who called for cyclists to wear high-viz following the death of an elderly man who was hit by a car.

Ian Grant Scott, 72, was actually wearing a fluorescent jacket at the time of his death in Green Island, Dunedin last year, but  Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar said that  it appeared he had not been fully aware of traffic

He said: “In my view, it is always appropriate for those riding cycles on roads carrying other vehicular traffic to do all that they can to ensure they make themselves visible to other road users.

"Riders of bicycles, particularly on main roads, owe a duty and a responsibility to other road users."

It followed another New Zealand coroner’s call for mandatory hi-viz, which the Ministry of Transport was said to be considering.

The coroner described it as a "no-brainer" and said it should apply to all cyclists riding in public at all times, made his recommendation in the case of a senior police officer originally from the UK who was described as “the face of road policing” in the country

Superintendent Steve Fitzgerald, who began his career with Leicestershire Police in 1967 and moved to New Zealand seven years later, was killed by an articulated lorry as he negotiated a roundabout on his way home from work one evening in late June 2008, midwinter in the Southern Hemisphere

In the UK, as we reported at the time, insurer Churchill attempted to claim contributory negligence relating to a teenage girl who suffered brain injuries after she was struck by a driver it insures while she was walking home at night along a country lane.

Churchill was not disputing the driver's liability, but argued that contributory negligence was present on the teenager's part because she should have been aware of the need to take the precaution of wearing hi-vis clothing.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

134 comments

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Leodis [422 posts] 3 years ago
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There should be no need for cyclists to dress up like HiViz clowns on the off chance some drivers "glance" picks them up.

This survey by the motor trade is just passing blame and responsibility towards cyclists, the excuse of "proper" cycling attire is just plain daft. The real issue is that the large majority of drivers are driving in auto pilot and not 100% concentrating behind the wheel.

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stevebull-01 [63 posts] 3 years ago
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Having been a commuter for the past 5 years, I've worn alot of of different gear and quite often its not always hi-viz. Ironically the closest I've been to an accident has been whilst wearing a big screaming yellow hi-viz coat with my lights blazing away, the driver purely and simply hadn't looked properly. In my personal experience the case is more about drivers not stopping or looking at junctions or generally driving without due care. The past couple of years I've opted for hi-viz gear because it makes me feel a little safer, but is it a false sense of security?

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Mr Agreeable [180 posts] 3 years ago
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The more I read stuff like this, the more I feel like plenty of existing cyclists suffer from the road safety equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome.

Or maybe it's even more basic - "I faff about with all this stuff already,I refuse to accept it could make no difference, and you should have to jump through the same hoops if you want to ride a bike".

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Rouboy [93 posts] 3 years ago
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Having commuted on a cycle for in excess of 20 years and social ridden for longer I have tried everything. At the time of my two most serious offs where I subsequently received very good compensation for, I was wearing Hi Viz I was displaying 2 x exposure products on the front and one on the rear. Oh and thankfully a helmet. What did the driver say on each occasion?
You all know, we have all heard. "Sorry I didn't see you"
So what can you really do to stay lucky???

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Hicksdesign [11 posts] 3 years ago
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My experience of wearing high-vis has been that, even if they see you, it doesn't mean they care…

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Sudor [188 posts] 3 years ago
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Er . . . no

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caaad10 [187 posts] 3 years ago
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There is so much ridiculous hi-viz legislation in the UK already, it seems the best way to stand out from the neon sea is to wear black.

Seriously, I think hi-viz overload has desensitised us all from those colours and we just associate it with general day to day monotony.

Viz a viz : Hi-viz = Low-viz

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gazza_d [469 posts] 3 years ago
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Utter #victimblaming tosh from a company who's business revolves around cars. Where do they find these "cyclists" or are they drivers with bikes stuck at the back of the garage. Doesn't bare any resemblance to the reality I see

I saw this survey a few days ago and it was nonsensical. It talked about brake lights for god's sake!

There should be no need and definitely never any legislation for cyclists to need to wear hi-viz at all. How many cars are black or dull gray for example?

the main issue are the car drivers that simply do not look.

As for lights, the old BS standard should be dumped in favour of EU/german specifications which are much more modern and sensible.

Reflective patches and strips on the rider and bicycle are also good at night and poor visibility.

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thegibdog [103 posts] 3 years ago
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A third of them want hi-viz to be compulsory but only a quarter of them actually wear hi-viz(!), half of them forget lights when it's dark and only 60% wear a helmet? These figures seem to suggest that the people surveyed were car drivers who occasionally ride a bike.

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rggfddne [220 posts] 3 years ago
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So, when it is mandatory and the accidents keep happening, what next?

At what point will it be said "alright, cyclists have done enough, now it is motorists who have to improve"?

My guess: never. Which is why I would never support this legislation.

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jasecd [438 posts] 3 years ago
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I'd support the mandatory wearing of high viz for cyclists if the same was required of pedestrians and all motor traffic was required to have fluorescent paint jobs.

Why should only one group of road users be dictated to in this way?

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Simon E [2985 posts] 3 years ago
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This just shows that a third of the 1,000 cyclists have been brainwashed by stupid DfT campaigns and hearsay. F**king sheep!

Nearly half of commuters didn't have lights when the clocks went back despite the fact that anyone commuting by bike knows what happens.

Most collisions are caused by driver behaviour, not cyclists. Compulsory annual eye tests should be enforced. Bans for drivers with 12 or more points shouldn't be shelved. People carelessly piloting 2 tonnes + of steel should be made to realise that it is THEIR behaviour that poses the greatest risk to everyone else.

A clubmate was hit by a driver that failed to give way at a roundabout this week. Thankfully he wasn't hurt. He was doing nothing wrong, had bright lights on etc (a following cyclist said he was clearly visible from a distance) but the driver hit him up and didn't stop. Does anyone really think a neon vest would have made any difference?

Hi-viz doesn't work properly at night, whether under street lighting or out in the lanes. It's more effective in dull daylight/dusk conditions but, more importantly, making it compulsory just shifts the responsibility onto cyclists. Insurers are just going to do everything they can to claim contributory negligence so they don't pay out.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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A recent survey found that a third of the British population are stupid.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1550 posts] 3 years ago
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A significant proportion of actual existing cyclists are rather conservative and/or elitist types. And they represent a tiny percentage of potential cyclists.

I'm more interested in what would encourage the far greater number of _potential_ cyclists (who regard cycling as both too dangerous and too much trouble) to actually take it up.

(Ironically, the one time I wore a high-viz top is also the one time a driver drove into me.)

I do, mind you, think perhaps that the law about having lights should be better enforced. Cars aren't painted bright yellow, but they _do_ have lights on after dark (well, barring one that I saw last week).

Its not unreasonable for motorists or pedestrians to expect cyclists not to be totally invisible after dark, yet about half the cyclists I see round here have no lights at all.

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CyclingDan [39 posts] 3 years ago
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WELL IT SHOULD NOT BE MANDATORY AT ALL. LIGHTS ARE MANDATORY AT NIGHT ANYWAY. SMIDSY IS NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER. POOR VISION/BLIND - SHOULD NOT BE DRIVING!!!
IF CYCLIST HAS NO LIGHTS AT NIGHT SHOULDN'T BE ON THE ROAD.
Theres my say!

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Cycleoptic [18 posts] 3 years ago
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I've been commuting in over light polluted central London for over 30years, 6ft2 usually wearing hi vis and having lights.
Still motorists and usually bus drivers say they don't "see me" because they don't look.

More instead needs to be done for cycle awareness and cycle positioning in urban locations.

On my club run, in the "country" anything that shows you at a greater distance to those going too fast for the road conditions ie most, would be welcomed.

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martib [77 posts] 3 years ago
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Won't make the slightest difference, I was riding round a roundabout it was light & I had flashing LED light on the front a lorry driver looked right at me and still pulled out on me. When I drive to work, some people don't even have any respect for you when you are driving a 4x4, so what hope do we have as cyclists. Unfortunately you can't legislate to remove people plain lack of respect and selfishness towards others.

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glynr36 [637 posts] 3 years ago
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High viz doesn't make you visible to someone not even looking for you.

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Kim [249 posts] 3 years ago
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One third of cyclists? Is this from a randomised sample from the whole population or just a self selecting sample of Autoglass customers? Either way, two thirds of the cyclists in survey don't support compulsory hi-viz clothing.

It should also be noted that this is not research, this is marketing. The motor industry is worried by the rise in the popularity of cycling as transport as they perceive as a threat to their business. The real research which has been carried out on the effectiveness or otherwise of hi-viz clothing, has shown that it doesn't make any significant difference to the collision rate.

Sure motorist would like compulsory hi-viz clothing for cyclists and pedestrians, as this would make it easier to blame the victims, likewise the insurance companies. Sadly the truth is, it will make no difference to the death rate on our roads. To change that we need to make fundamental changes and adopt a sustainable safety approach which has been shown to work.

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pdows47 [103 posts] 3 years ago
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Does anyone know where I can find the survey report (the published one as opposed to the coverage) as I'd like to read it. Based on that brief summary of the results, I'd be inclined to say this wasn't a properly done survey. The fact of having higher numbers supporting hi-viz than wearing it makes it seem the survey was subject to a selection bias, and not having a representative sample of British cyclists.

Despite there being no evidence to support its work, I have a little hi-viz kit that I occasionally wear. One is a rain jacket I have do to running Sky Rides, so I don't wear it that often. The other is a rain cape, which I figured can't hurt when dull light makes you harder to spot anyway. That said, I tend to prefer the 'be lit up like a chirstmas tree' approach to being seen, not that it always works.....

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Bez [607 posts] 3 years ago
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I smell a rat and I think it'd be rather interesting to see how the actual questions were phrased.

Taking one example: An absolute minimum of 8% of people seem to think hi-viz should be compulsory, but don't wear it themselves. Which either means even more people are utter morons than I'd feared, or someone's asking leading questions and spinning the results.

I wonder which it could be.

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CycleLove [9 posts] 3 years ago
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Yet more non sense on hi-vis.

The deliberately provocative/vague titling of the article is not helpful either.

Third of cyclists [in tiny sample of survey commissioned by company to generate press coverage] support mandatory hi-viz clothing.

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a.jumper [848 posts] 3 years ago
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This is a bad news story. Link to the source survey so we can see how they have biased it please!

But all cyclists should join groups and reach out to other cyclists as well as decision makers.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 3 years ago
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I know I'm going to be shouted down, but this constant anti hi-vis sentiment is really bad news.

"hi vis clowns"
"big screaming yellow"
"the best way to stand out from the neon sea is to wear black"
"no need to wear hi vis at all"
"won't make the slightest difference"
and, most bizarre of all,
"the one time I wore a hi-vis top is the one time a driver drove into me".

I worry that comments such as these may be contributing to the numbers of cyclists being killed or seriously injured. We should be encouraging cyclists to make themselves more visible, not putting them off doing so.

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bendertherobot [1383 posts] 3 years ago
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High Vis = potentially useful in daylight. Potentially, depending on if the other person is looking. Of course, other colours such as red, green, blue can be as, or more visible in certain circumstances.

High vis does not equal visible in the dark. In the absence of a light source you will not be seen.

Now, High vis may include reflective material. That stuff works. You'd be mad not to have some.

But, really, there is no substitute for lighting yourself the best you can.

I ride with a Lezyne Mega Drive and Macro at the Front. 3 Fibre flares at rear and an exposure Flare.

Both tyres, Vittoria Randonneur have awesome reflective sidewalls.

Seriously, what am I adding with a yellow top?

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Bez [607 posts] 3 years ago
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Retro-reflective material is fantastic and, used appropriately, is very effective. There are existing (albeit archaic) laws on bicycle reflectors, of course.

Daytime hi-vis is quite a different thing, and to the best of my knowledge multiple studies fail to show significant effectiveness.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 3 years ago
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@ Bez

Study results vary but Sarah Barth, in her road cc piece on HGVs a couple of weeks ago says this:

"A cyclist is just about visible coming up on the left -- but the improvement once you add a high-viz jacket is astonishing."

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robhaybriff [29 posts] 3 years ago
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I found the article at http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/raf-pilot-teach-cyclists/ interesting & informative from the view point of being both a driver & cyclist

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Sarah Barth [85 posts] 3 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:

@ Bez

Study results vary but Sarah Barth, in her road cc piece on HGVs a couple of weeks ago says this:

"A cyclist is just about visible coming up on the left -- but the improvement once you add a high-viz jacket is astonishing."

You're absolutely right - only anecdotal but that was my experience. Not that I wear one very often. Yellow's just not my colour  3

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Mech-for-i [1 post] 3 years ago
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I find the argument totally absurd.

Even the most casual observer can tell a proper set of cycle lights would made the bu\ike a lot more visible than even the best of high vis clothing. And since the law already dictate the usage of lights in low visibility condition. its about educating and enforcing that. In fact flashing LED used even in daylight can greatly raise the visibility way better

And parents should taker note, they should be educating their kids about the need for this.

There is also the case of equality, cylist is just another group of road user, why should they be single out to be needing to signal themselves where the fact is each and every road user should be alert to other road users. So if at all wanting high vis , then by god, let's made it a law that all pedestrian do high vis clothing and all cars and truckss to have high vis paint job also.

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