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West Midlands Police’s plain clothes cyclists spurn hi-vis

“Drivers actually paying attention is the most important thing”

West Midlands Police has provided a glimpse of one of the plain clothes cyclists who have been engaged in its close pass operation. To the consternation of some, the cyclist was not wearing high-visibility clothing with the force emphasising, “it's about normal people being safe on everyday journeys.”

On Friday, the force’s roads policing unit tweeted:

A suggestion by a Twitter user that “cyclists should always wear high-vis” brought the response, “Should they, why when contrast and drivers actually paying attention is the most important thing?”  

The force added:” Drivers need to look properly, move in their seats to check blind spots, anticipation of the probable is the trait of the competent driver.”

In January, West Midlands Police said that its close pass operation had halved poor overtaking offences.

The scheme was called the “best cyclist road safety initiative ever” by Cycling UK, and the Road Danger Reduction Forum presented officers with an award last year.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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27 comments

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farnz | 6 years ago
0 likes

FWIW, I've been on a big coach (a Plaxton Elite i) that's 4m high, 15m long, and about 2.5m wide, when an inattentive motorist hit it and tried to claim that they didn't see the coach.

We were in stop-go traffic, on a stretch of road where the previous stop was a pull-in bay to let traffic pass stopped buses and coaches. The car driver, clearly functioning on automatic instead of paying attention, saw a stopped coach and decided to pull round it - oncoming traffic made this manoeuvre a bad idea, but instead of braking and waiting for the coach to move forward, the car driver simply attempted to pull back into the correct lane, hitting the side of the coach. Due to the speeds involved, the damage wasn't severe - the car's bumper came loose, and the coach was going to need new paint. Car driver seemed to think that "sorry, I didn't see you there" justified his bad driving...

There was some amusement to be had, though - the car driver was furious that the coach driver wanted to exchange details, and insisted that the police get involved, because his apology should be enough, and he shouldn't be victimized for not seeing another road user. Police were not tolerant of this attitude, funnily enough.

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Yorkshie Whippet | 7 years ago
2 likes

In a vain attempt to get back on topic.

I think the wording of the advice needs to be changed. "Give as much room as you would a car". Well the number of passes that nearly take my wing mirror off by car drivers, motorcyclist and cyclist, does make me wonder what is considered safe? Just enough room not to smash wing mirror??

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hawkinspeter | 7 years ago
1 like

Sorry, can't resist this pic.

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RobD | 7 years ago
3 likes

Really pleased to see west mids police taking a sensible approach to this, it seems like they've got some people on the force there that actually understand the issue and aren't just making a token gesture. Hopefully it'll gradually spread to other forces (those that aren't already doing similar things) and they'll actually look at the real problems.

Looking at the picture at the top I'd certainly say that the grey top looks much more similar in colour to the white helmet he's wearing than the black satchel, and surely contrast against the background is more important than the specific colour of the garment? the jacket I usually wear for cycling to work is a burgundy colour, the contrast between it and the road/hedges/buildings I pass as I'm cycling along is one of the reasons I chose it, there's very little in even a remotely similar colour and I'm comfortable wearing it when not cycling as well. 

The sooner the law is changed to match places in Europe with responsibility falling on the motorist to prove that they were not at fault the better, if you want the right to drive a two ton metal box at high speeds then you really do need to be responsible for your actions at all times, when I took my test I had to read a license plate at a distance of more than 20 metres, if you're able to do this then you should be able to see a cyclist wearing any colour clothing going (I'll grant that all black at night is a fair exception), if you can't then you probably should be taking your test again.

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alansmurphy | 7 years ago
6 likes

Shitelikenotbike,

A couple of points:

Why are cars not painted in Hi Viz - surely this should be a lre requisite in your strange world?

Also, you seem very quick to want to not punish a drunk driver speeding into and killing a vulnerable road user when they are riding in appropriate clothing at 2pm on a perfectly sunny day. Why is this?

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ClubSmed | 7 years ago
0 likes

I have to say that I think that the top in the picture is pretty much pavement coloured, but that is certainly mitigated by the hi-vis colour of the bike!

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Rich_cb | 7 years ago
0 likes

The problem I have with theory of 'high Viz blindness' is that even if the theory is correct wearing high visibility is still the logical choice.

If drivers are now so conditioned by the ubiquity of high visibility clothing that they fail to notice road users in 'normal' clothing then why on earth would you want to wear 'normal' clothing.

You'd be knowingly putting yourself at increased risk.

Even if everybody stopped wearing high visibility clothing overnight nobody can say how long it would take for drivers' perceptions to change so nobody can say how long the period of increased risk would last for.

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to Rich_cb | 7 years ago
1 like
Rich_cb wrote:

The problem I have with theory of 'high Viz blindness' is that even if the theory is correct wearing high visibility is still the logical choice.

If drivers are now so conditioned by the ubiquity of high visibility clothing that they fail to notice road users in 'normal' clothing then why on earth would you want to wear 'normal' clothing.

You'd be knowingly putting yourself at increased risk.

Even if everybody stopped wearing high visibility clothing overnight nobody can say how long it would take for drivers' perceptions to change so nobody can say how long the period of increased risk would last for.

We already had this argument! But yes, it's the logical choice for the individual (based on their own personal balance of safety and convenience/dignity). It's not so logical to put effort into promoting it for everyone, however.

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. . | 7 years ago
0 likes

What does he do with the white stick?

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Tommytrucker | 7 years ago
22 likes

Oh just piss off and go trolling on another website you odious cretin.

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burtthebike replied to Tommytrucker | 7 years ago
8 likes
Tommytrucker wrote:

Oh just piss off and go trolling on another website you odious cretin.

Please don't feed the troll, then he'll go away.  They only do it to get a reaction, so don't react.

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Chris Hayes | 7 years ago
1 like

I think that there's something to 'hi-viz blindness', with the possible exception of Rapha pink which is still rare enough for people to take note.  But day lights, especially bright flare lights, also work. I have an Exposure flare is always on flash when mingling with traffic.    

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burtthebike | 7 years ago
23 likes

“best cyclist road safety initiative ever” spot on comment by Cycling UK. 

A police force that finally understands that it isn't cyclists' job to avoid being run over by incompetent motorists, it is the motorists' duty to do everything to avoid killing people.  I wonder why other forces haven't got this yet?

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230548 | 7 years ago
0 likes

I am Currently using the bontrager flare rear light in the daytime on daylight setting which is 65 lumens with an irregular flash i am sure i am being given a wider berth this also allows me to wear what i like rather than "hi viz" 

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TheScotsman | 7 years ago
6 likes

Edinburgh Police are currently carrying out Operation Close Pass, though sadly they are entirely lacking in the kind of social media engagement which has made @TWMPolice's campaign really stand out.

There's a chance to engage with and educate the public who're posting the usual anti-cycling and "why don't you catch real criminals" comments in their droves on the Force's Facebook page, but they're not bothering.

It's a massive missed opportunity.

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TedBarnes | 7 years ago
4 likes

They're spot on - only last week I was passed with inches to spare, nearly coming off as I over-corrected after initially steering away reflexively. 

I managed to catch up a few hundred yards and asked the guy to wind his window down. The usual "I didn't see you", and I actually believed him. Scary to think he genuinely hadn't clocked me given that I was wearing a luminous long sleeved yellow top and it was broad daylight. 

It was coming up to a T-junction, but one of those that are forked with a short section you can take if turning right. There's quite a wide field of view as a result, albeit then cut off completely by trees until you're on top of the junction. My best guess is that he was more concerned with looking right to see whether he'd have to stop or could just keep going, and not looking at what was right in front of him in bright dayglo yellow.  I was in secondary - I've not decided yet whether if I'd been in primary he'd have seen me or just ploughed into the back of me. Trying not to think about that too much...

So yeah, it's about looking properly, not what someone else is wearing. It's not like they've banned black cars. 

 

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FatBoyW | 7 years ago
10 likes

Based on the failed prosecution of that Gail woman there is nothing I mean nothing that makes a cyclist visible to a driver and a need for our society to rewrite our laws to protect us all from driving without due care. So I am not going to bother with hi viz.

I applaud the manner in which WMP are doing this work - please please get all our forces to extrapolate this into the way a driver is dealt with when they commit a close plass or worse.

Collisions are not accidents, justification of why your vehicle hits something else should be a minimum requirement in and 'RTA' (should be an RTI), can't explain whhy you hit it then where is the care?

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rliu | 7 years ago
10 likes

Hi vis is an absolute plague in society. If cyclists have to wear it surely pedestrians should too, maybe also dogs, maybe also bollards, maybe also sub atomic particles in the large hadron collider - would make any discoveries easier to observe after all.

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PaulBox replied to rliu | 7 years ago
5 likes
rliu wrote:

Hi vis is an absolute plague in society. If cyclists have to wear it surely pedestrians should too, maybe also dogs, maybe also bollards, maybe also sub atomic particles in the large hadron collider - would make any discoveries easier to observe after all.

You crazy fool! That would completely defeat the object of the exercise, those little particles would never bump in to each other if they were wearing hi-vis!

Next you'll be suggesting some kind of polystyrene head protection...

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107rpm replied to rliu | 7 years ago
3 likes
rliu wrote:

Hi vis is an absolute plague in society. If cyclists have to wear it surely pedestrians should too, maybe also dogs, maybe also bollards, maybe also sub atomic particles in the large hadron collider - would make any discoveries easier to observe after all.

See also daytime running lights on motor vehicles.

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jh27 replied to rliu | 7 years ago
2 likes
rliu wrote:

Hi vis is an absolute plague in society. If cyclists have to wear it surely pedestrians should too, maybe also dogs, maybe also bollards, maybe also sub atomic particles in the large hadron collider - would make any discoveries easier to observe after all.

I use shared use paths quite a bit on my commute. A lot of it not well lit at night... Pedestrians, dogs and bollards should have high viz.

Despite having a good set of lights, I've had near misses with all of the above - the bollard was nearly invisible, due to the glare from the lights on a stationary car, I've lost count of the number of ninja joggers I've come across and dogs should just be banned in general - especially those on extendable/invisible leads.

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Paul_C replied to rliu | 6 years ago
0 likes
rliu wrote:

Hi vis is an absolute plague in society. If cyclists have to wear it surely pedestrians should too, maybe also dogs, maybe also bollards, maybe also sub atomic particles in the large hadron collider - would make any discoveries easier to observe after all.

it's mandatory in France to carry a Hihh-Viz waistcoat inside the car passenger compartment and the driver is expected to put it on before getting out to deploy his warning triangle or fix a puncture.

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danthomascyclist | 7 years ago
27 likes
Quote:

cyclists should always wear high-vis

 

If a six foot tall lump of meat and metal isn't highly visible to a driver then that driver should forfeit their licence.

Well done,  West Midlands Police for standing up to this nonsense.

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chrisc | 7 years ago
2 likes

From today we have this in Leeds prior to rollout across West Yorkshire

 

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/crime/leeds-drivers-who-pass-too-clo...

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peted76 | 7 years ago
24 likes

Yet another show of proactive common sense from WM Police!

I sense a trap ! *starts looking frantically over shoulder*

 

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SevenHills replied to peted76 | 7 years ago
1 like
peted76 wrote:

Yet another show of proactive common sense from WM Police!

I sense a trap ! *starts looking frantically over shoulder*

 

 

I presume the last part of your comment was in an Admiral Ahkbar voice?  1

 

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brooksby replied to SevenHills | 7 years ago
5 likes
SevenHills wrote:
peted76 wrote:

Yet another show of proactive common sense from WM Police!

I sense a trap ! *starts looking frantically over shoulder*

 

 

I presume the last part of your comment was in an Admiral Ahkbar voice?  1

I have a bad feeling about this...

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