High vis clothing doesn't make cars pass you more safely, says new study

Small but potentially lethal number of drivers will pass too close whatever you wear

by John Stevenson   November 26, 2013  

Cyclists in high-vis (CC licensed image by garryknight)

If you feel like some drivers will pass too close no matter that you wear and that you’re being given less space on the road than you used to, a new study says you’re right, and indicates very strongly that you’re not safer if you wear high-vis in the daytime.

Researchers from the University of Bath and Brunel University found that no matter what clothing a cyclist wears, around 1-2% of drivers will pass dangerously close when overtaking. They also found that compared to Transport Research Laboratory findings in 1979, drivers today on average pass 61cm (2ft) closer to cyclists - 118cm compared to 179cm.

The researchers conclude that there is little a rider can do, by altering their outfit or donning a high-visibility jacket, to prevent the most dangerous overtakes from happening. Instead, they suggest, if we want to make cyclists safer, it is our roads, or driver behaviour, that need to change.

The research was conducted by Dr Ian Garrard from Brunel University and the project led by Dr Ian Walker from Bath University. Ian Walker is famous as the sometime wig-wearer who discovered in 2006 that cyclists are afforded more space by drivers if they appear to be female or are not wearing a helmet.

In this study, the two Dr Ians were trying to find out if drivers gave cyclists more room depending how skilled and experienced they looked. They expected that drivers would give more space to a rider who seemed inexperienced and less space to a rider who looked highly skilled.


The range of outfits worn during the research

Dr Garrard used an ultrasonic distance sensor to record how close each vehicle passed during his daily commute in Berkshire and outer London. Each day, he chose one of seven outfits at random, ranging from tight lycra racing cyclist clothes (signalling high experience) to a hi-viz vest with “novice cyclist” printed on the back (signalling low experience).

He sometimes also wore a vest that said he was video-recording his journey, or a vest modelled on a police jacket but with “POLITE” printed on the back. He rode the same bike, in the same way, every day and over several months collected data from 5690 passing vehicles.

The vest that mentioned video recording persuaded drivers to pass a little wider on average, tallying with anecdotes from helmet-cam users that drivers behave better when they know they are being recorded. However, there was no difference between the outfits in the most dangerous overtakes, where motorists passed within 50 cm of the rider. Whatever was worn, around 1-2% of motorists overtook within this extremely close zone.

Dr Ian Walker said: “Many people have theories to say that cyclists can make themselves safer if they wear this or that. Our study suggests that, no matter what you wear, it will do nothing to prevent a small minority of people from getting dangerously close when they overtake you.

“This means the solution to stopping cyclists being hurt by overtaking vehicles has to lie outside the cyclist. We can’t make cycling safer by telling cyclists what they should wear. Rather, we should be creating safer spaces for cycling – perhaps by building high-quality separate cycle paths, by encouraging gentler roads with less stop-start traffic, or by making drivers more aware of how it feels to cycle on our roads and the consequences of impatient overtaking.”

The researchers point out that while they found that wearing high-visibility clothing made no difference to the space left by overtaking drivers, they did not try to find out if it made cyclists more visible at junctions or at night.

However, they note that there is surprisingly little evidence that high-visibility clothing for cyclists and motorcyclists offers any safety benefits in daytime. This would further support the idea that there is no easy fix for riders’ safety from asking them to wear bright clothing.

The reduction in average passing distance between 1979 and today “could be a result of greater traffic volumes since the 1970s,” say the researchers, “or reduced levels of  bicycling which mean that the average motorist is less likely to have experience of bicycling themselves, and so is less understanding of a bicyclist’s needs.”

It occurs to us that it could also be linked to the increased width of modern cars. A 1979 Ford Escort Mk II was 1570mm wide (5ft 2in) while the modern equivalent Ford Focus is 1823mm wide (5ft 11 1/2in). However, Ian Walker points out that there was no difference in passing distance between wide four-wheel drive vehicles and standard cars in his 2007 study.

The paper - The influence of a bicycle commuter’s appearance on drivers’ overtaking proximities: An on-road test of bicyclist stereotypes, high-visibility clothing and safety aids in the United Kingdom - will be published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

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fukawitribe wrote:
giff77 wrote:
Rubbish. It makes little odds what you wear. Yesterday on the approach to a crossroads I moved further out into lane one to make the left turn.

This is sometimes known as the Fallacy of the Lonely Fact.

giff77 wrote:
This driver saw me and still pulled this stunt.

So the driver, we suppose, would have done it even if you'd been wearing some HiViz clothing ? Is that what you mean ? In which case this is less about HiViz or not and more about the driver.

Also what, pray, does this have to do with whether HiViz is useful in getting noticed in the first place - or perhaps you think that is not relevant to safety ?

After that, your argument sort of staggers about a while - what, exactly, are you trying to say here in relation to HiViz ? Drivers "would miss out half the things going on around them if asked", so HiViz could not have any effect on the number and type of things they notice .... really ?

Yes, motorists are so caught up in their little cocoon that they are oblivious to what is happening at the roadside or on the road be it cyclists, horse riders, pedestrians or other vehicles. Personally I would like to see a proper eye test included in driving tests.

As for the bus driver, well he and his colleagues have very little regard for vulnerable road users should they wear hi viz or not.

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posted by giff77 [1045 posts]
28th November 2013 - 19:56

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fukawitribe wrote:

After that, your argument sort of staggers about a while - what, exactly, are you trying to say here in relation to HiViz ? Drivers "would miss out half the things going on around them if asked", so HiViz could not have any effect on the number and type of things they notice .... really ?

The evidence appears to be that drivers take whatever safety measures they are given and use them as a means of paying still less attention and driving still more carelessly. This is, it seems to me, just human nature, not something unique to drivers.

Therefore the net benefit of everyone wearing high-viz is likely to be negligible in terms of the safety of those outside the vehicle. And morally as far as I'm concerned its a step too far in putting the burden of safety on people other than the driver.

Now I think its possible that if the penalties for not paying attention were far, far higher for the driver, that _then_ high-viz might make a difference. If cyclists were known to explode with the force of a IED if you hit them even at low speed, for example, then motorists would concentrate fully on looking for them and take full advantage of any aid to spotting them, and so high-viz might then make a difference. But I don't think motorists take the whole issue seriously enough that such measures would improve the safety of the cyclist rather than just giving the motorist an excuse to pay still less attention.

In short, I don't think motorists fail to see non-high-viz wearing cyclists in day light because its literally impossible to see them, I think motorists make a choice about how carefully to drive vs going faster or multi-tasking. Wear high-viz and that choice will just be shifted to "consume" any improved visibility.

This is why I personally think lights at night (or even reflective items at night) are different - a totally unlit cyclist in the dark is difficult for even a careful driver to see, and I accept its not reasonable to expect a driver to pay _that_ much attention and drive _that_ slowly as would be necessary to compensate for ninja cyclists in the dark. But high-vis in daylight hours is a step too far as far as I am concerned.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [657 posts]
28th November 2013 - 20:29

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saladfunky wrote:
But the high vis still means the cars DO SEE YOU!!!! At least they are passing even if too close!! Better they pass you than HIT YOU!!!! You'd be a fool to think hi vis doesn't help. These surveys are sometimes send the wrong message. Don't get too drawn in by them. Use your own experience as a driver and cyclist to draw the sensible conclusion. You need to be seen and well in advance if possible.

How do you draw that conclusion from the survey? Half the outfits weren't hi viz.

posted by paulfg42 [374 posts]
28th November 2013 - 21:14

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giff77 wrote:

fukawitribe wrote:

Drivers "would miss out half the things going on around them if asked", so HiViz could not have any effect on the number and type of things they notice .... really ?

Yes, motorists are so caught up in their little cocoon that they are oblivious to what is happening at the roadside or on the road be it cyclists, horse riders, pedestrians or other vehicles.

I'm not asking whether the general populous of motor vehicle drivers have piss poor observation skills, i'm all too aware of that, i'm asking whether you honestly think that HiViz (during daylight, likewise reflectives at night) have absolutely no effect on whether you are noticed by people in the first place ? In particular, having worked for TNT in operations for a number of years and listened to HGV drivers over the years (interesting video link posted somewhere on here recently too) about the effectiveness of them - i'm inclined to believe they have their uses. You clearly can't differentiate the argument between being visible or not, or seem to indicate that all motorists behave the same once you are. On the bike, or on motorbikes, i've always treated road users as idiots by default - that's a survival mechanism.. but it does NOT mean that they'll all actually blind or malicious bastards - nor does it have anything to do with visibility.

giff77 wrote:
Personally I would like to see a proper eye test included in driving tests.

Me too - not just focus tests but decent contrast, motion, colour and peripheral vision tests.

giff77 wrote:
As for the bus driver, well he and his colleagues have very little regard for vulnerable road users should they wear hi viz or not.

Nice generalisation - well done. The driver was acting like a twat from what you said, so obviously everyone else doing the same job is one as well.. this discussion clearly needs more intelligent insight from people like you.

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posted by fukawitribe [358 posts]
28th November 2013 - 23:35

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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

This is why I personally think lights at night (or even reflective items at night) are different - a totally unlit cyclist in the dark is difficult for even a careful driver to see, and I accept its not reasonable to expect a driver to pay _that_ much attention and drive _that_ slowly as would be necessary to compensate for ninja cyclists in the dark. But high-vis in daylight hours is a step too far as far as I am concerned.

I actually agree with much of what you say, but I differ in this regard - I consider hiviz/reflectives as just another aid to being noticed in the first place. What a driver does after having seen someone is another matter, and that's generally out of the cyclists control. I not saying you have to wear hiviz etc to be noticed, nor should there be any compulsion, but I do believe it can have a beneficial effect - namely sometimes being seen when you otherwise wouldn't have. It's just another tool to use, in the end it's entirely up to the rider to decide whether they do or not.

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posted by fukawitribe [358 posts]
29th November 2013 - 9:50

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The main thing I object to with studies like this is that it sends out what in my opinion is the wrong message. Reading this, especially some of the headlines used by road.cc on twitter to publicise the story, the impression is hi-vis makes no difference to cycling safety. It doesn't take into account junction smidsy's etc but the glaring omission is that it didn't interview the drivers for their opinion and to ask them when they saw the cyclist, when they started their overtaking manoeuvre and crucially how much space they think is appropriate.

I would guess that most of the drivers who we would consider to have passed too close, all think they passed safely. There's a culture in driving that if you don't hit something, then it was safe. We probably all do it when we drive, squeeze through a gap, just miss a lamppost doing a u turn etc

I saw a cyclist from several hundred yards away on a shadowy dual carriage way because he was wearing hi-vis. Because I'm a cyclist I knew what was safe so I moved into the fast lane as soon as possible as I knew it could be difficult later if there was fast moving traffic outside me. I watched 2 other cars stay on the inside lane and pass the cyclist at approx 50mph in the same lane. I can't imagine that they saw the cyclist any later than me (maybe if they weren't concentrating) but the issue imho is that they thought the pass was ok. "I didn't hit him, what's the problem ?"

There are hundreds of thousands of pounds wasted on pointless studies and vanity projects by phd's. Hi vis does / doesn't help, helmets do / don't help. There was a study a few years ago to show that women like flowers and chocolates more than men (I kid you not).

The issue is people drive and cycle badly, but as we know cyclists might kill themselves, drivers will probably kill someone else. We need driver education, old school public information films to show people that actually, 20cms isn't a sufficient gap and this is why. Until we address the standard of driving in this country we will never solve the problems

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posted by colinth [183 posts]
29th November 2013 - 10:12

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I notice that none of the riders in the study are wearing the black tarmac camouflage that unfortunately is popular at the moment.
If drivers are to see us and hopefully behave accordingly, there is no excuse for taking measures that means motorists will not see us.

This guys research may be done with the hoped for credibility being gained by being done by a Dr, but the agenda seems to be a deliberate attempt at undermining common sense.

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posted by Reg Oakley [5 posts]
29th November 2013 - 11:41

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Reg Oakley wrote:
I notice that none of the riders in the study are wearing the black tarmac camouflage that unfortunately is popular at the moment.
.

Unless the roads where you live are resurfaced much more frequently than in my neighbourhood tarmac is rarely actually black and unless you are looking at a cyclist from a helicopter or tall building it's pretty unlikely that the background to the cyclist will be the road they are riding on. I don't have any problem seeing cyclists whatever colour they are wearing, just as I can perfectly well see schoolkids crossing the road In dark uniforms, grey coloured cars or black cows in the middle of the road. If you can't see any of these things the problem lies with you and not the road users you are blaming for your inability to see them.

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posted by Northernbike [127 posts]
29th November 2013 - 14:28

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Northernbike wrote:
I don't have any problem seeing cyclists whatever colour they are wearing, just as I can perfectly well see schoolkids crossing the road In dark uniforms, grey coloured cars or black cows in the middle of the road.

Congratulations to you for your uniquely perfect vision. The rest of humanity, who haven't reached the genetic peak you have, will have to cope with using contrast to detect objects more quickly and more easily. We can see dark uniforms and grey cars, of course, but may still prefer to have a earlier warnings of such things. YMMV

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posted by fukawitribe [358 posts]
29th November 2013 - 17:35

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fukawitribe wrote:
Northernbike wrote:
I don't have any problem seeing cyclists whatever colour they are wearing, just as I can perfectly well see schoolkids crossing the road In dark uniforms, grey coloured cars or black cows in the middle of the road.

Congratulations to you for your uniquely perfect vision. The rest of humanity, who haven't reached the genetic peak you have, will have to cope with using contrast to detect objects more quickly and more easily. We can see dark uniforms and grey cars, of course, but may still prefer to have a earlier warnings of such things. YMMV

'uniquely perfect vision' - if not running over schoolchildren is so unusual where you live you should move, really

'may prefer to have earlier warning of such thing'- I prefer this too. I call it 'paying attention to the road ahead'

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posted by Northernbike [127 posts]
29th November 2013 - 19:38

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I could have a moan about how close some people get and 'punishment' passing, but I don't feel like I've ever really been put in danger in the same way I have at junctions, roundabouts and at traffic lights; even when sat in an ASL.

Junctions are typically just people pulling out. My own experience is if I'm a 'commuter' (like, proper mudguards, tourer, panniers and looking like I might be slow...) then I often get MORE people pulling out and then just looking the other way as they block traffic. Rarely does this happen at a junction if I'm in roadie gear going at ~20mph.

ASLs make no difference what I wear. The biggest danger with the ASLs on my commute are the light sequence. Drivers just chance it on red. I'm sat in front of traffic and start off ahead of the queue behind me but the red light jumper coming from the left doesn't really give two hoots. Thanks man; I have been knocked off like this and had one too many close calls. I instinctively have a quick look around these days...

And I was hit yesterday in a roundabout - the bloke admitted he didn't see me; he hadn't even looked until it was too late (even with my joystick front light on). He was too busy pulling around the traffic that HAD seen me (two lanes into the roundabout).

I agree that this is anecdotal, the experience of one (in my own opinion) incredibly safe cyclist; but it makes no odds if driver behaviour is generally atrocious around the country (which is something the study and I agree on).

posted by spaceyjase [48 posts]
29th November 2013 - 19:59

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fukawitribe wrote:
giff77 wrote:

fukawitribe wrote:

Drivers "would miss out half the things going on around them if asked", so HiViz could not have any effect on the number and type of things they notice .... really ?

Yes, motorists are so caught up in their little cocoon that they are oblivious to what is happening at the roadside or on the road be it cyclists, horse riders, pedestrians or other vehicles.

I'm not asking whether the general populous of motor vehicle drivers have piss poor observation skills, i'm all too aware of that, i'm asking whether you honestly think that HiViz (during daylight, likewise reflectives at night) have absolutely no effect on whether you are noticed by people in the first place ? In particular, having worked for TNT in operations for a number of years and listened to HGV drivers over the years (interesting video link posted somewhere on here recently too) about the effectiveness of them - i'm inclined to believe they have their uses. You clearly can't differentiate the argument between being visible or not, or seem to indicate that all motorists behave the same once you are. On the bike, or on motorbikes, i've always treated road users as idiots by default - that's a survival mechanism.. but it does NOT mean that they'll all actually blind or malicious bastards - nor does it have anything to do with visibility.

giff77 wrote:
Personally I would like to see a proper eye test included in driving tests.

Me too - not just focus tests but decent contrast, motion, colour and peripheral vision tests.

giff77 wrote:
As for the bus driver, well he and his colleagues have very little regard for vulnerable road users should they wear hi viz or not.

Nice generalisation - well done. The driver was acting like a twat from what you said, so obviously everyone else doing the same job is one as well.. this discussion clearly needs more intelligent insight from people like you.

OK then, reflectors/reflective trim and lights at night. You are very much in an environment where you need to make your self noticed. This is a must.
Hi Viz during the day. Pointless. If a motorist cannot see a pedestrian/cyclist at 100 feet they shouldn't be on the road. Like Northernbike I can see what's in the road regardless of what they wear. I was taught to look not just 6 feet ahead but also up to a mile ahead depending on the road I'm on.

Maybe I'm being too subjective, but the region I live in drivers just do not pay any attention. Yet I go to my parents and it's a different story all together. As for my friend the bus driver, that company has a poor track record in interaction with the vulnerable road user. Other bus companies in the region are actually pretty good.

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posted by giff77 [1045 posts]
29th November 2013 - 20:55

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I found the article very interesting and it tended to support my understanding of peoples view of HiViz. HiViz performs a similar function as road hazard warning signs in that drivers are expected to drive cautiously when they see them. However, we know that some drivers regularly disobey road hazard signs so why would they treat HiViz any differently?

In any event HiViz is the worst possibly option for preventing accidents as anyone with an iota of knowledge about safety will tell you. PPE should only be used as a last resort and never in isolation of other more effective controls. Eliminating or Avoiding the 'hazardous situation' is the best option and the only way we can achieve that, short of stopping driving or cycling, is to physically separate them from each other. If that is not 100% possible then as much separation as can be designed must be the standard to aim for.

We should be looking at more shared footpaths, more well maintained cycle ways, more cycle priorities at junctions and even the allowance of cycles to share pedestrian crossings. I can't understand why the 'red light jumping issue' elicits such a vitriolic reaction from some people. If some road junction designs allowed safe filtering, say when turning left at a T-junction or filtering across the top of the T when pedestrians cross, I don't see how that is a problem. Obviously, cyclists would have to give way to pedestrians in these situations and ride politely and cautiously but I don't see why it should be argued against if it means less contact with motor vehicles. Afterall its only the faster cyclists, who cannot stop quickly, that pose a risk to pedestrians and even then the chances of serious injuries and deaths is ridiculously small compared to consequences of collisions between cycles and motor vehicles.

Someone with a thorough understanding of all these issues needs to get on the News and put these points across. The debate has become too much about ill informed gut reactions and the incompetent views of some high profile individuals and motoring lobby groups. Until we hear a proper detailed reponse from cycling safety experts we are in danger of one of our populist political parties screwing up cycling for everyone and that would be a travesty given how far cycling has come in the past few years.

posted by BigBear63 [69 posts]
29th November 2013 - 22:39

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+1. Hi Vis of no Hi Vis? It's not the issue as it will not change reckless behaviour in some drivers and does nothing to re-enforce to motorists that we have a right to share the road. Once all vehicles are day glo and their drivers too I will don the nanny ware. Until that day I shall continue wearing black, black and white, red white and blue with black and even a touch of pink.

If I'm run down on a public road and killed in any of the above and the judge decides my clothing contributed to my death? Well. Who wants to live in a workd like that? Not I.

It would create all sorts of trouble if it was suggested that a black person dressed in black was less visible at night than a white person dressed in black so they were more liable when run down. The general argument regarding whether Hi Vis will preserve us from careless motorists is that daft to me.

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1055 posts]
29th November 2013 - 23:36

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[[[[ I'm a Wobbly Wheeler. If I spot trouble ahead (vehicle pulling out of a side-road), or sense trouble behind me, I wobble just a bit. This helps dopey drivers to notice me, and I believe overtaking drivers do actually give me a bit more room as they pass, seeing my slight weaving as unpredictable. When I'm driving, I notice cyclists whatever they're wearing---or not wearing. I think non-cyclist drivers are now so accustomed to yellow jackets they hardly notice them, in daylight, anymore. Familiarity has bred contempt. It irks me to have to occasionally abandon my admirably smooth straight-line riding style, but hell - Southwest London's potholed "roads" are not helping in that regard anyway. So....do I wear the screaming yellow coat-thingy? Hardly ever. If drivers can't see my large bonkbag, with its diagonal night-reflective strip, or its red diagonal fluorescent dayglo strip (in daylight), then I can only hope they drive smack into the back of that tipper-truck they deserve to SMIDSY. Toodle-oo.
P.R.

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posted by PhilRuss [276 posts]
30th November 2013 - 4:44

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This is a very well , but despite them feeling uncomfortable , close overtakes are not what causes most accidents.

Most accidents are caused by look but didn't see at junctions. Could we have some proper research on the effect of attire on this please? Not much out there.....although my suspicion is that hiviz actually makes it worse not better!

posted by wyadvd [116 posts]
30th November 2013 - 9:55

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Interesting guardian article:
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2013/jan/10/cycling-hig...
And before you thought flashing lights at night help , cop a load of this :
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/7571470/

I think the failure of hi viz is linked th the above (siccadic masking)

posted by wyadvd [116 posts]
30th November 2013 - 10:12

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colinth wrote:
The main thing I object to with studies like this is that it sends out what in my opinion is the wrong message. Reading this, especially some of the headlines used by road.cc on twitter to publicise the story, the impression is hi-vis makes no difference to cycling safety. It doesn't take into account junction smidsy's etc but the glaring omission is that it didn't interview the drivers for their opinion and to ask them when they saw the cyclist, when they started their overtaking manoeuvre and crucially how much space they think is appropriate.

I would guess that most of the drivers who we would consider to have passed too close, all think they passed safely. There's a culture in driving that if you don't hit something, then it was safe. We probably all do it when we drive, squeeze through a gap, just miss a lamppost doing a u turn etc

I saw a cyclist from several hundred yards away on a shadowy dual carriage way because he was wearing hi-vis. Because I'm a cyclist I knew what was safe so I moved into the fast lane as soon as possible as I knew it could be difficult later if there was fast moving traffic outside me. I watched 2 other cars stay on the inside lane and pass the cyclist at approx 50mph in the same lane. I can't imagine that they saw the cyclist any later than me (maybe if they weren't concentrating) but the issue imho is that they thought the pass was ok. "I didn't hit him, what's the problem ?"

There are hundreds of thousands of pounds wasted on pointless studies and vanity projects by phd's. Hi vis does / doesn't help, helmets do / don't help. There was a study a few years ago to show that women like flowers and chocolates more than men (I kid you not).

The issue is people drive and cycle badly, but as we know cyclists might kill themselves, drivers will probably kill someone else. We need driver education, old school public information films to show people that actually, 20cms isn't a sufficient gap and this is why. Until we address the standard of driving in this country we will never solve the problems

We desperately need research like this based on scientifically determined outcomes, not opinions. The danger is that if we don't get some decent outcome based science done, that our lives will get dominated by the opinions and dogmas of the policy makers and not by what actually makes a difference. Common sense is good most of the time , but real science comes up with (the right) conclusions more often than not which contradict common sense and commonly held dogma.

posted by wyadvd [116 posts]
30th November 2013 - 11:25

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Damned, but mostly by ourselves.

I think this thread is great and raises many of the most pertinent issues that we cyclists have to contend with on the road - to be seen by drivers and passed safely, but...

... why do we persist in riding in BLACK all of the time????

As a rider and driver, it truly is insane.

I was passed the other day by a guy togged head to toe in black- helmet, gloves, jacket - the lot - riding a black Boardman, deep in a wooded area of Berkshire. It was a dull, damp, dark, drizzly day - swallocky, they call it where I come from - and against the drab, dark, muddy coloured trees that offered no light whatsoever, I could barely see him - and I was on a bike doing a streaky 18mph!! He had no lights on and it was practically impossible for me to pick him out easily.

What chance then for a driver tootling along at anything between 30-70mph?????

WE must give drivers a fair chance - especially in the ugly, grey and dark winter weather - and wear clothing that will help them to see us - especially in those out of the way wooded areas - otherwise we are gambling with our lives - and the odds are seriously stacked against us.

And it's not just out in the country either. I almost pulled out in my car from the kerb on a cyclist who was riding IN THE DARK with no lights, no hi viz kit, no helmet and yes you guessed - dark clothing - hammering down a short hill, but expecting that "driver's good sense" would take care of him (or her)!!!

How utterly insane is that? If I had hit that rider I have no doubt I would have done serious damage to them and who would have been to blame? Not me ... but tell the law that - and then try to prove it. What a mess it would have been - and why? Rider stupidity which simply fosters the attitude: "If you don't care, why should I?" After all, who can help an idiot?

posted by comm88 [75 posts]
30th November 2013 - 13:22

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I thought my feet must have fallen off this morning. Then I realised I had put my black socks on.

posted by felixcat [208 posts]
30th November 2013 - 14:20

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If you don't have lights and reflectives in the dark, the colour of your clothing won't make any difference.

posted by paulfg42 [374 posts]
30th November 2013 - 15:04

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comm88 wrote:
... why do we persist in riding in BLACK all of the time????

As a rider and driver, it truly is insane.

It's fashion (and money), pure and simple, largely influenced by pro teams, cycling industry, and the cycling media (who would have a lot less to talk about if everyone just decided to wear safety gear).

It's also because of a small, but determined, group of cyclists (and even journalists) continually making irresponsible comments about "hi-viz", and deterring inexperienced cyclists from making an informed choice about their personal safety.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
30th November 2013 - 15:52

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I ride in whatever I'm wearing. Lately that's usually either a blue or black and white coat. The bike is festooned with reflectors and if it's gloomy, I'll switch the lights on. If any driver can't see all that, they ain't gonna see a yellow jacket instead of a blue one.

posted by a.jumper [694 posts]
30th November 2013 - 23:33

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I have one of those Polite Notice jackets with the blue and white reflective bands just like the police jackets and when I wear it in the winter nights I notice that drivers do drive further away from me.

posted by brandobiker [22 posts]
1st December 2013 - 0:07

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Neil753 wrote:
comm88 wrote:
... why do we persist in riding in BLACK all of the time????

As a rider and driver, it truly is insane.

It's fashion (and money), pure and simple, largely influenced by pro teams, cycling industry, and the cycling media (who would have a lot less to talk about if everyone just decided to wear safety gear).

It's also because of a small, but determined, group of cyclists (and even journalists) continually making irresponsible comments about "hi-viz", and deterring inexperienced cyclists from making an informed choice about their personal safety.

You certainly shouldn't study for a sociology degree. Fashion it may be but their is no sphere in design where black is not a universally popular choice. People would not normally choose to were an unnatural colour if it were not for the supposed safety factor.
You criticize people for making snarky comments about HiViz colours and imply we are doing something wrong and harming young people. That is an outrageous slur. Firstly you totally overestimate the effect of a few internet forum posts; secondly social pressure is one of the few avenues that people have to object about HiViz. We have a right to voice our opinion. Your position moves us towards compulsion to wear HiViz and criminalizing those who do not wear it. This would cause a drop in cycling rates especially in the winter.

If the non-HiViz wearers of the world feel that their safety is diminished because you are training motorists to not look out for them (or anybody else) by wearing HiViz and trying to get the majority to do so, then don't be surprised when people are vocally against it. The Herd Immunity were no one is wearing HiViz is dissolved every time you put on that jacket, so you are making other people less safe too, if only by a fraction of a percentage.

So get off your high horse and stop attacking people who oppose HiViz or support genuine choice, OR nail your colours to the mast and come clean that you do want compulsory HiViz not choice, if you are not worried about a few internet comments.

If you really want people to 'make an informed choice' then you shouldn't imply that the informed choice is your choice. Otherwise you don't really understand the 'choice' bit.


Leviathan of Riderstate

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posted by bikeboy76 [1239 posts]
1st December 2013 - 16:03

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bikeboy76 wrote:
"Fashion it may be but their is no sphere in design where black is not a universally popular choice."

Yes there is - the sphere of personal safety clothing design. Isn't that what we're talking about here?

bikeboy76 wrote:
"People would not normally choose to were an unnatural colour if it were not for the supposed safety factor."

In a hazardous environment, hi-viz colours are a natural choice.

bikeboy76 wrote:
"You criticize people for making snarky comments about HiViz colours and imply we are doing something wrong and harming young people. That is anb outragious slur."

I didn't say young people. I said inexperienced cyclists. But, yes, I do criticise people that make "snarky" comments about hi viz colours. People are influenced by the comments of others. I'm careful to promote the benefits of hi viz, in measured terms, but draw people's attention to the derogatory, and often bizarre, remarks made by those who may infuence those who may wish to wear hi viz, but not do so, for fear of being ridiculed. There's nothing wrong with discussing the merits of visibility, but we must be careful not to spread ridicule in a public forum.

bikeboy76 wrote:
"Firstly you totally overestimate the effect of a few internet forum posts"

It's rather more than that, isn't it? Forums, blogs, social networks, cycle cafes, sportives; even the cycling press seem keen to promote scorn and ridicule sometimes. And yet, can you imagine the backlash if people started to make widespread derogatory remarks about cycle helmets, with the associated risk that would come if inexperienced cyclists decided not to wear one?

bikeboy76 wrote:
"Your position moves us towards compulsion to wear HiViz and criminalizing those who do not wear it."

On the contrary. My position is to defend the right of people to make their own informed choice, but unimpeded by the raucous cachophony of ribald anti hi viz sentiment staring up at them from the pages of every forum. In fact, far from my position moving us towards compulsion, it may well be that people are becoming increasingly concerned about these widespread adverse comments. And that, my friend, will undoubtedly be moving us towards compulsion, even if you cannot see it coming. Can you imagine what you cycling buddies would say, if your anti hi viz comments were used by legislators as part of the gathered evidence for a legislative proposal? That would be interesting, wouldn't it?

bikeboy76 wrote:
"This would cause a drop in cycling rates especially in the winter."

I agree, so button it.

bikeboy76 wrote:
"If the non-HiViz wearers of the world feel that their safety is diminished because you are training motorists to not look out for them (or anybody else) by wearing HiViz and trying to get the majority to do so, then don't be surprised when people are vocally against it. The Herd Immunity were no one is wearing HiViz is dissolved every time you put on that jacket, so you are making other people less safe too, if only by a fraction of a percentage."

Drivers aren't being "trained" to look out for hi viz, but I can certainly agree that it makes things slightly more dangerous for those in less visible clothing. But how many cyclists who get sucked into the LED lights "arms race" really give any thought to the fact that their brighter lights will make other cyclists' lights less visible to drivers? However, when cyclists who claim that hi viz has no beneficial effect, suddenly realise that their own visibility is indeed becoming slightly reduced when other cyclists wear hi viz, there's lots of cries that it's unfair. Cyclists can't have it both ways. It's as farcical as a home owner complaining that his house is targeted more regularly by thieves after other homes in his street have had their security upgraded. I agree with you, the more hi viz is seen, the less prominent every other cyclist becomes but, if you're asking me to adopt the ubiquitous "uban look", just so you can save your own skin, the answer would be no. Everyone has a choice. I prefer not to wear a helmet - that is my choice. I wear hi viz - that is my choice. If I'm in a street full of cyclists wearing hi viz, and I'm less visible by not wearing hi viz - that would also theorically be a choice, even though it might be a seen by a coroner as a poor one.

bikeboy76 wrote:
"So get off your high horse and stop attacking people who oppose HiViz or support genuine choice, OR nail your colours to the mast and come clean that you do want compulsory HiViz not choice, if you are not worried about a few internet comments. "

I don't see myself as attacking people who oppose hi viz because, as previously mentioned, I defend the right for people to make an informed choice. In fact, many of my posts are designed to provide a wider perspective, by writing from hgv driver's point of view for instance. But, as we know, there are very few posters who argue the case for hi viz, and I'm sure you would agree that people who read these forums might wish to see both sides of the argument.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
1st December 2013 - 18:56

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Neil, your ridiculous over-analysis of what I said shows how desperately you want acceptance of your view as you knit pick every contrary opinon. It seems like every post you have made on this site is HiViz related, I see no evidence that you are a committed cyclist or care about cyclists beyond forcing them into yellow jackets.
If "Forums, blogs, social networks, cycle cafes, sportives; even the cycling press seem keen to promote scorn and ridicule sometimes" as you say then it would seem that the cycling community and especially those who cycle the most are against HiViz and use the tools they have to oppose it; yet you persist in accusing us of some dirty campaign to harm other people.
People are vocal against HiViz because they see compulsion as a possibility, if you don't like what they say but are pro-choice the solution is to stop going on about it then we won't have to. Choice means freedom not to agree with you; analyse that.

You think that your comments are measured and reasonable but your accusations are just distasteful at best.


Leviathan of Riderstate

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1239 posts]
1st December 2013 - 23:24

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[[[[ Zzzzz....think I've heard enough on sickly-jackets for now. Oooh! ---can we have a Helmet argument instead?
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [276 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 5:40

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A small point about riding in high-vis is that many of us have a destination when we cycle and this destination may be less suited to high-vis gear.

For example, a dark soft-shell cycle jacket will not look out of place walking around the shops or even in and around the office. Swap it for a dayglow version and your clothing choice becomes a little less multipurpose. Even on a Sunday morning run out to a nice coffee shop I'd prefer not to be sipping my expresso surrounding by dayglow monsters. Add to this the fact that high-vis colours get visibly dirty more easily and you can see why many people opt for less brightly coloured kit.

In countries where utility cycling is widespread nobody sees the need for any special clothing, they simply wear what is approprite for thier destination. Whilst I'm not ready to ditch my clippless pedals and fit a chainguard just yet I'm happy to comprimise by wearing clothing that works off of the bike as well as on.

posted by Matt eaton [395 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 13:21

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Matt eaton wrote:
Whilst I'm not ready to ditch my clippless pedals and fit a chainguard just yet I'm happy to comprimise by wearing clothing that works off of the bike as well as on.

The sock is a cheaper option. Or go hipster and roll your trouser up to the knee...

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posted by giff77 [1045 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 13:30

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