Police in Derbyshire have released a video to demonstrate how much more visible a cyclist is wearing reflective clothing at night than without, but fail to mention the rider's lights are turned off, breaking the law.
In two side-by-side clips, titled Road Safety Week – Why Wearing Reflective Clothing Gear is Essential, a cyclist is shown riding on an unlit road wearing a reflective jacket and lights, another without, showing a striking difference in how soon it is possible to see each rider.
Derbyshire Police have been criticised for overemphasising the role of reflective clothing by showing the non-reflective cyclist without lights, however. The clip and its accompanying commentary make no mention of the lights being turned off, and also at times refer to hi-vis clothing, which is not designed to be visible at night, rather than reflective clothing, which is.
Chief Inspector Andy Palmer, head of Derbyshire Constabulary's roads policing unit, told the Buxton Advertiser: "The video highlights just how important it is for cyclists to make sure they can be quickly and easily seen by other road users.
"The cyclist who is not wearing any reflective gear is almost invisible until the car is right behind him - whereas the cyclist with the jersey can be seen immediately. "We are releasing this video as part of Road Safety Week 2016, which is aimed at raising awareness of safety across all road users, including cyclists.
"Many cyclists take great pride in their bikes and we want to encourage them to treat their own safety as seriously and invest in proper reflective equipment."
The video caption says: “The following clip shows two cyclists. How long does it take to spot them both?”
Immediately the reflective cyclist can be seen, both a red rear light and the reflective jacket itself, where the unlit, unreflective rider is not visible for at least 12 seconds.
The video goes on: “In these stills, the cyclist is in the same spot, with one clear difference. One of them is not wearing hi-viz gear, and one is.”
Cycling UK's Sam Jones told road.cc the video, however well meaning, is sending out the wrong message.
He said: "Clearly their heart's in the right place but it is a shame that they haven't really thought through the issues. Turning off the lights is a big no no. I hope it was on a closed road because it could have been quite dangerous for that cyclist going along without any lights.
"Using lights while cycling at night is essential; wearing reflective gear or high vis is not," he added.
"However, reflective gear can be of use, particularly pedal reflectors, because they are moving and can catch a driver's attention."
The video ends with the message “wearing high-visibility clothing, rucksacks, helmets, spokes, mudguards and lights makes you much easier to spot. Be seen. Be safe”, but fails to note the non-reflective cyclist’s lights are turned off.
Where hi-vis clothing is brightly coloured, designed to be highly visible in daylight, it is reflective clothing which is designed to be seen at night as it reflects direct light, like car headlights.
Cyclists argue the video is an unfair representation of the importance of reflective clothing.
Cyclist and blogger, Bez, commented on the video: "If it's so important, or effective, why do you have to remove the lights and show illegal riding in order to make your point?"
The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain's Mark Treasure called the removal of lights "dishonest".
— Mark Treasure (@AsEasyAsRiding) November 22, 2016
Bez argues the rider would be "easily visible" with the lights but without the reflective gear.
— Bez (@beztweets) November 22, 2016
Criticism has also included that lights are a legal requirement at night, whereas reflective clothing is not. And sometimes, perhaps, there can never be enough reflective material to avert a collision on Britain's roads.
— Bez (@beztweets) November 21, 2016
That doesn't mean this is necessarily a good idea, though.
After numerous calls from the public who no doubt saved a life. This Cyclist found riding in lane 2 of the A52. No lights, dark clothing pic.twitter.com/eAYqpGzUZQ
— Derbys Roads Police (@DerbyshireRPU) November 20, 2016
Derbyshire Police have been contacted for comment regarding the lights and the apparent confusion over hi-vis and reflective clothing.