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Posted by on Dec 4, 2009 in Bicycle Culture, Product Review, Safety | 42 comments

Vests – bad for cycling?

 

So …………………. the wife wants to get me this for a X-mas present.  And it’s a nice vest, lightweight, and very reflective (here is the actual link to the product).  I have no doubt it would increase my visibility on the road.

But ….. is this bad for cycling?

By wearing this, am I announcing to the public that it is so risky to ride a bike that I must don special clothing in order to remain safe?  Is this the kind of message we want to send to people thinking about taking up riding — special gear is required?  And is this so different than having cyclists riding on sidewalks — again, sending a message to the public that this is where bikes belong?

On the other hand, why is it wrong to choose options that can lower the risk of not being seen and therefore possibly injured on a bike? 

One train of thought is about personal safety and how you feel, the other is about how cyclists are seen as a whole and how that affects all of us.

 

I don’t know …….. do you have an opinion?

42 Comments

  1. Oh, do I have an opinion? One brave fellow to post such a question :-)

    A neighbor of mine rides frequently. He is an unusual rider in that he changes his bike and his manner of dress from day to day. Some days he will ride a beater bike and dress in street clothes, while others will find him on a reasonably good performance bike, in helmet and in vest. The vest was a contribution from me from one of our event rides, by the FBA, if I recall correctly.

    He’s told me that, even though he’s a gutter bunny, when he’s wearing the vest, other road users seem to give him more passing room. He’s a serious stripe-rider and will ride on four inches of paint on an eight-foot wide lane, even though he says he knows the right way to ride.

    We’ve agreed to not ride together, as his habits disturb me greatly.

    Part of vehicular cycling is being where the other drivers are looking, in my opinion and experience. I feel that is one aspect of the safety of such a practice. For my neighbor, who refuses to operate safely, being dressed in something that makes drivers see him might improve slightly his safety.

    I ride with daytime headlights and an always-on taillight, for pretty much the same reason. I say, “go for it”.

  2. Fashion be damned. my goal is to be noticed by drivers. If I have have to wear a clown suit, so be it.
    I wear bright yellow or green jerseys and a high visibility Pearl Izumi jacket. When I use my black backpack I put a Planet Bike Blinky on it. (To go with the other two blinky tailights on my bike.)
    For future reference: If a driver ever says they didn’t see me, they are lying.

    • BTW I’ve been hit and run from behind wearing these things. Visibility is a negative when the drivers aim at you deliberately.

  3. I hesitate to take part in the visibility arms race where we train motorists to only watch for the most conspicuous road users — the largest vehicles, the most reflective cyclists, and those pedestrians who carry flashlights.

    • I understand what you’re saying, and it’s a tough call. As with helmets, what’s good for the individual is bad for the community. It’s sort of like buying a gun — it might make you safer, but it creates a culture of fear and suspicion that endangers everyone.

      Ultimately, though, I say it’s OK to use a helmet or a vest, and here’s why: the majority of people will not cycle on our current roads, no matter what, and are not even thinking about it. Even if every single person who currently cycles were to get rid of her helmet and vest tomorrow, the message most people in the US would get would not be “cycling is safe,” but rather “those people are unsafe.” I know it’s not popular to say so around here, but I’m with David Hembrow: if you want to see serious, Dutch-scale levels of cycling, you need serious, Dutch-scale investments in separated bike infrastructure. The rest is pretty marginal.

  4. I ride both in daylight and darkness as part of the everyday commute. Part of nighttime visibility is presenting a recognizable human silhouette rather than a mere blinking light in order to give overtaking motorists an idea of range and speed. Lane positioning is part of this too, regardless of time of day. I don’t see it as a statement that cycling carries extreme risk. Instead, it’s a means of nullifying the “Gosh, officer, I never saw him!” excuse.

    Besides, I’m kinda fond of wearing loud Hawaiian shirts with plaid shorts. Loud is good.

    • “Besides, I’m kinda fond of wearing loud Hawaiian shirts with plaid shorts.”

      I think I’m going out of the neon vest debate, but I’m pretty sure that the Hawaiian shirt and plaid short combo is a crime against humanity. I’m calling the Hague. :-)

  5. I’m not convinced that more visibility=more safety. I can’t speak for other cyclists/motorists but personally I find approaches like this to be more distracting. Diverting attention from everything else that’s going on is not necessarily better for everyone.
    It’s like the automated speed radar by a school zone recently installed here. It has a flashing white light that alerts you if you’re driving 16+ in a 15. It also draws your attention away from where a child would be if there was one in the street.
    When talking safety, I don’t think there are simple answers or simple relationships. As a cyclist, I have adequate lighting and some reflective piping on my clothes. My bag also has a large reflective vertical stripe. That combined with my awareness of traffic is what keeps me feeling safe.

  6. Police put on vests when they move into an intersection to direct traffic. Does that send a message of danger? I think it sends a message of “extra care to safety.”

    I don’t wear a vest. Most of my stuff is black and I KNOW motorists have no trouble seeing me. What’s more, they had no trouble seeing my turn signals this predawn even with my black mittens on.

  7. I think we have a responsibility to increase our visibility. There is a reason why we wear lights or take the lane. I wear a vest – not all of the time. But it’s lighter than the one you show and is retroreflective- meaning it doesn’t glow neon on its own. I like it and think that it show respect for other people using the road – motorists or otherwise.

  8. I wouldn’t wear one.

    I think riding with proper lane control and good lighting is far more important than a safety vest. I prefer to dress in brightly-colored, but normal, street clothing. I am not convinced that vests make enough difference to justify the bad message that I think it sends. I’m not against all reflective stuff, but vests demonstrate a lack of confidence to me. I’d rather spring for Down Low Glow, but then again I’m always looking for an excuse to get that for my bike. ;p

  9. I agree that riding properly where you will be seen is way way more important than a vest. I have, however, started using a vest for specific streets that are quite a lot scarier than most. Most of the time, though, I don’t feel the need.

  10. Personal preference, first and foremost! I typically DO NOT ride during daylight hours using a vest due to my lane positioning. I choose to at night. My “Mother Ship” light setup and my vest have been reported to be seen 1/4 to 1/2 mile ahead.

    When every automobile is sold in only in a fluorescent orange, lime, yellow, or green paint configuration, then and ONLY then should it be a requirement for cyclists to wear such apparel. Pedestrians too. Imagine how colorful our world will be then! :-D

    Just because we cyclists are not wearing bright colors does not absolve one from accountability and the personal responsibility to safely operate a motor vehicle on our public roads.

  11. I strongly favor visibility/conspicuity measures such as vests, triangles, and of course effective lights and reflectors, because increasing one’s visibility makes it possible for other drivers to detect, recognize, and react to you early and smoothly.

    Detection involves raw contrast and brightness; it puts you on the other party’s “radar screen”. Good visibility also allows you to be re-detected in visually cluttered situations when their line of sight is intermittent, when darkness or headlight glare or weather interfere, or when there’s a lot else going on.

    Recognition comes when you are identified as a cyclist, not a mailbox or marker. This helps the other party guess your speed and probable line of travel. Reflective vests, triangles and of course standard and beyond-standard lights and bike reflectors (including the “signature” of moving pedals) reliably identify you as a bicyclist.

    Reaction includes time for the other party to act on the brain’s recognition, steering, braking or accelerating if needed. The further ahead that detection and recognition occur, the more time is available for smooth interaction.

    Being confident that I can be detected and recognized early and reliably lets me worry less about what’s behind me, freeing up my “attention budget” to anticipate, detect and avoid the more likely conflicts — ahead and to the sides.

    When I first got into bike commuting I used a vest. But after a season or two I found it awkward to put on and take off — often in the dark — midway through my trip when I needed to add or subtract layers or rain gear. Now all my bikes sport 10″ reflective fabric triangles (Jog-A-Lite’s larger model) in addition to bright taillights (typically one solid and one blinking). I pack a triangle (with it’s quick-clip jogger belt) on trips, in case I borrow or rent a bike.

    As for whether a vest or triangle “sends the right message” about the safety of bicycling, my feeling is that a cyclist’s demonstrated ability to competently drive their bike (i.e. operate legally, position correctly, and communicate effectively but not aggressively) is what sends a strongly positive message. Additional visibility on top of that just reinforces the idea that you belong on the street just like any other driver.

    We’re already making cultural — and sometimes fashion — statements by driving our bikes; a little more conspicuity isn’t going to change that.

    John Ciccarelli
    League Cycling Instructor #453
    Bicycle Solutions
    San Mateo, CA
    http://www.BicycleSolutions.com
    http://www.TeachStreet.com/teacher/john-ciccarelli

  12. I wear one and I think it increases my visibility.

    I don’t necessarily know the strength of the relationship between increased visibility and not getting hit by a car driver. I believe there are other factors (texting, talking on the phone while driving, drunkenness, not following the rules of the road, etc.) influencing the end result.

    Under ideal conditions or controlled condition, the hi-vis vest might have a effect on reduction of accidents.

    The answer to reduction of bicycle v. car accidents might be in proper education of auto and bicycle drivers. I believe you guys are doing a great job of it – Bravo!

    If I did everything I could and should, and got in a wreck, I won’t feel as bad as I would otherwise. However, this assumes that I make it alive at the end of it all.

    Be safe out there!

    Peace :)

  13. I’m with Angie and Steve A. Steve wrote, “Most of my stuff is black and I KNOW motorists have no trouble seeing me.” A cyclist in dark clothing is visible from 300 yards and more. Easily. Managing your road position is the best way to get good behavior from other motorists. Having a bad road position and “fixing” that with bright clothes isn’t as good.

    And I agree with those who say that overdoing daytime conspicuity could be sending a bad message. The “we’re vulnerable” bit is way overdone.

    At night, a good headlight and taillight make you visible. I do prefer to have more than one taillight to aid in perception, and I often use two headlights too. (Multiple lights are cheap insurance against a light failing. They can be cheap ones and still fulfill that function.) Fluorescent fabric has no conspicuity advantage at night.

    Nighttime conspicuity has been studied pretty well, mostly by Richard Blomberg at Dunlap and Associates, and their findings were that blinking and motion outscored brightness in increasing detection distance. The best device in their test was a now-defunct blinking light called the Belt Beacon, which blinked only 90 times per minute, and was far, far dimmer than the LED taillights we enjoy today. It outscored several brighter devices.

    I prowl the literature on this subject whenever I can, and I know of no actual data that shows the garish colors are preventing daytime accidents. I don’t even know of any data collected on closed courses to measure detection distance. (I know, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence — and this is but one of hundreds of germane questions for which the information simply hasn’t been gathered.)

    Personally, I wear whatever’s on the top of the pile. I have light colored and dark colored clothes, and, frankly, haven’t noticed any difference in how others treat me, based on that. As I said, either way, others can see me from 300 yards or more. Again, I get the reaction I want from other people by managing my road position.

    John Schubert
    Limeport.org

  14. I own a vest. I wear it when traffic speed is fast and I’m concerned that inattentive motorists might not notice me or the visibility is poor (dusk/dawn).

    If I’m in slow traffic where motorists expect a lot of pedestrians (as in the downtown area where I work), I don’t need to wear the vest.

  15. I’m also torn between being as visible as possible and making cycling look “normal”.

    Usually I end up leaning toward the latter. I don’t own a helmet or any cycling-specific clothes. I have a neon reflective vest, but I only wear it at night or other times when visibility is poor. I have several lights, but I also only use them all when visibility is poor.

    This is for two reasons:
    1) I want other people to view cycling as a normal and safe activity that doesn’t require all kinds of special clothing, headwear, or other gear.
    2) I don’t want to perpetuate the “visibility arms race” that an earlier poster referred to. I shouldn’t need to wear neon clothing and have several lights blazing for other road users to notice me (unless it’s dark).

  16. I must confess, I cannot forget this post on the chainguard list. All would be well advised to consider it even if wearing high visibility clothing:

    http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/chainguard/message/24492

    The author? One John Schubert, who was responding to Ken O’Brien. Ironically, Bruce Rosar took a position in favor of higher visibility. In the final analysis, Bruce’s own visibility was probably irrelevant.

  17. Does anyone remember the Back Belt craze? Insurance companies were urging (at risk of premium increases) to require their employees to wear a back belt. I even remember seeing secretaries wearing them since they might have to move a ream a paper or two during the week, a back belt would certainly keep them from filing a soft tissue claim.

    Not so much anymore. Here is an article that examines both sides of that issue and it is not much of a stretch to compare the “safety vest” to the “back belt.”

    Many experts have questioned the effectiveness of back belts in preventing back injuries. There is little scientific proof providing undisputed evidence that back belts reduce the possibility of injury during lifting.

    Proponents for using back belts present the following arguments:

    * Belts increase intra-abdominal pressure. This is the pressure developed when you tighten your stomach muscles. Strong abdominals help support the spine, and can reduce back stress by up to 50% when lifting. Back belts can boost this pressure, especially when lifting loads greater than your body weight.
    * Belts increase flexibility. Belts can help to keep muscles warm. Warmer muscles are more flexible than colder muscles.
    * Belts serve a biofeedback function. The presence of a back belt can help remind workers to use proper body mechanics when lifting.

    Experts questioning the value of back belts have the following concerns:

    * Belts elevate blood pressure. This can be dangerous for individuals with cardiac problems.
    * Belts promote sweating and heat rashes. This is especially problematic when working in warm environments.
    * Tight belts can be painful. Improperly fitted belts can cause abdominal pain and injuries, especially if worn for prolonged periods.
    * Belts provide a false sense of security. Workers can feel protected by the belt and lift unsafe loads.

    Back belts should be used only after proper screening, fitting and instruction. Employees should recognize that belts do not increase strength and lifting ability, or substitute for proper body mechanics. However, back belts, when coupled with body mechanics and lifting training, can be part of an effective injury prevention program. They will not make employees more fit, buy can serve as a reminder to use safe lifting techniques.

    https://fpm-www3.fpm.wisc.edu/safety/occupationalHealth/Ergonomics/BackSafety/BackBeltInformation/tabid/87/Default.aspx

  18. I’m with Scott on being torn. I too make it a point to wear as little “cycling specific” clothing as possible, especially in the daytime. Even then, however, I prefer light colored clothing, and I do wear a helmet. In the winter, the colder temps (I’m in Maine) and greater time spent in darkness justifies a windbreaker similar to the vest shown here, but that’s for warmth as well as visibility, and a windbreaker at least looks a bit more normal than a vest. But I do use reflective leg bands as well as bits of reflective tape on my heels, because not all my bikes have pedal reflectors. I’ve read in the literature that pedal or heel reflectors are very good because the motion very effectively registers to the observer as a bicyclist.

    I think my bottom line reasoning is that if I’m going to ride as a vehicle, integrated with faster traffic, I need to make sure the motorist behind me sees me in enough time to respond, especially after dark. Especially in rain or snow. Especially after dark IN rain or snow. Maybe I’m overdoing it, but I want to be sure.

  19. In my view different people have different levels of risk tolerance, so need different things to feel safe on the road. One solution does not fit all or even most, especially as more people bicycle. If anything is good for bicycling in my view, it is to broaden the choice of technologies to encourage more people to feel safe, and not to unduly chastise them for using what makes them feel safe.

    Jerry Foster
    Trustee
    West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance
    http://wwbpa.org/

  20. My view, is that the vests are:
    1. not necessary for safety (proper bike lighting is more than sufficient)
    and
    2. create the impression of cyclists as a strange outgroup.

    The marginal benefits of wearing such a vest (over already having proper lighting on your bicycle) are outweighed by the huge benefits of the normalization of cycling that results from cycling in one’s regular clothing.

    Of course, if one’s regular clothing consists of casual athletic attire, than the vest does not really alter this person’s choices.

  21. The great vest debate!
    My question is: Can you rock it? Will you pull it off with a devil may care attitude, that sends the message that you choose your own path in life.
    reflective vests are dual mode. they are a lot like tiny man purses, blue tooth headsets, argyle socks, or le corbu glasses. they either say : “Eccentrics have permission”, or
    “Punch me now”.

    ride with confidence.

  22. I think Jerry hit the nail on the head: Different people have differing needs in order to feel safe cycling on the road.

    Near my workplace, the grounds maintenance guys have taken to wearing ANSI Yellow long-sleeved t-shirts in the last year. I’ve always noticed them, but I appreciate the increased visibility. If my mind wanders while driving (which it does occasionally), the flash of florescence in the daytime snaps me right back into an appropriately vigilant state of mind.

    That being said, taking the lane and lighting up are my first two strategies to feel safe (and be hassled less by drivers) when I ride. I’ve noticed, though, that drivers move over sooner when I’m in brighter clothing than when not. Coincidence? Vivid imagination?

    • Ron wrote:

      “I’ve noticed, though, that drivers move over sooner when I’m in brighter clothing than when not. Coincidence? Vivid imagination?”

      I guess it depends on your theory of motorist-cyclist interaction. I get that “moves over earlier” response too (I sometimes watch the whole interaction in my mirror), and to me it confirms the value of early detection and recognition. Also — and this may depend on how far coexistence has evolved in your area — but I suspect that if a motorist interprets your enhanced visibility choice as an indication that you’re serious about bike-as-transportation (and more likely to be competent), they’re more likely to view you as “just another driver” and do a proper pass.

  23. One interesting note: The military requires clothing like the vest for motorcyclists on bases.

  24. I personally do not have any special cycling clothing. I do, however, have three front and three rear lights and three different heights. One of each is the head and tail lights that are standard equipment on my Pashley. The others are flashing lights.

    I view the lights as cheap low-maintenance visibility enhancers.

    Nobody mentioned the advantage of being seen by pedestrians. I don’t want some ped to step right in front of me at night and cause a crash.

  25. That should read “…at different heights.”

    …sigh…

  26. I usually wear a reflective vest at night as a supplement to my rear light (easier to maintain and more portable than additional tail lights).

    I don’t bother in the daylight, using lane position. I haven’t seen a need or use for lycra or specific bicycle clothes, purely as a matter of personal preference (not ideology).

  27. I wear day-glo under low-light conditions only. During the day I wear normal clothes. I make myself visible to cars by riding in the center- to center-right portion of the lane.

    Yes, under normal conditions, I think this stuff says: “Yikes! Bicycling is scary and dangerous!”

  28. I don’t think vests, bright colors and the like say that Bicycling is Dangerous.

    I think it says that motor vehicle drivers are not as careful, considerate or safety-minded as they should be.

    Cutting the grass along the roadways should not be considered dangerous, yet those workers are wearing vests as well.

  29. I ride mostly at night, approx 250 km a week.

    I own a safety vest, and several other yellow/green/reflective tops.

    Much like my attitude towards VC, I don’t bother with the vest anymore. Time and time again, the reality of what creates close calls for me clashes directly with both the VC mantra and what one would otherwise think was common sense.

    Trying to be seen is a losing game from my experience. Car drivers don’t see each other. Big cars with big bright lights smack into each other all the time. All the “visibility game” does is give you a false sense of confidence. The safest way for me is to always assume that you cannot be seen at all, and to act accordingly.

  30. Instead of asking “do safety vests dangerize cycling,” we should ask “Are we using safety vests (or helmets, or whatever) to dangerize cycling?” How we portray the use of safety equipment matters a great deal. I wear a helmet but I don’t fuss at others who don’t, or portray it as an essential piece of equipment. With bright colors, I wear them when conditions most warrant it: in poorer seeing conditions. As Dwight pointed out, in my part of the world an extra layer often means a good deal of discomfort. But when it cools off enough to require a jacket, my jacket of choice is screaming neon yellow.

    When we start portraying such safety items as very necessary at all times, we run the risk of the contributory negligence problem. While it may not be explicitly written in law that failure to wear brightly-colored clothing is contributory negligence, we might foresee a time when that might be the common belief, and juries might unfairly rule against cyclists in some cases for that reason.

    (I also posted the above on the APBP list; the link to this entry was posted there.)

    And I second Eddie’s comment. I wore my neon yellow jacket into the produce market some onths back and the owner said, “Man! Ray Charles could see you coming!” I’ll put that in the “Eccentrics have permission” column. ;^)

  31. As much as we try to see cycling as a normal everyday activity, it isn’t. The normalization of cycling is a goal that we pursue but we are nowhere near.

    All of this reminds me of Blaise Pascal’s “Wager” where he said the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should wager as though God exists, because living life accordingly has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. The same can be said for wearing clothes that make you visible to motorists. What have you got to lose by wearing clothing that makes you visible to other road users? Nothing, and you everything to gain. And for those who argue that wearing such clothing will slow down the progress to achieveing normalcy, I ask, are you willing to risk your life for that? Not me. I’m placing my money on being seen…I have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

    Joe Mizereck

    Joe@3feetplease.com
    joe@roadguardian.com

  32. Cycling environments vary greatly. In a slow speed urban environment, there’s no need to dress like a psychedelic Easter egg.

    On a high speed arterial road where cyclists aren’t expected, it can be of benefit (especially in low-light conditions) to wear bright colors. In the daytime, a motorist will see you in plenty of time to yield, even in dark colors. But I like them to see me so far ahead that they clear the lane behind me—that makes for a more pleasant experience than having a big lane-changing shuffle immediately behind me. Left-of-center lane position is more critical than clothing for this. My choice of attire for that purpose is a bright-colored shirt, not a safety vest. (I also like to wear bright colors in general, so it’s not a big shift in attire for me.)

    I suspect that in most cases a safety vest is a Talisman. However, I don’t begrudge anyone the right to go through their own process with that, I certainly did.

    As for reflective stuff, I’d be interested in a test to determine the distance at which retro-reflective is visible vs a good tail light.

    To echo statements made by John Schubert, Mighk and a few others, advocates need be careful with the admonishments about bright clothing. Establishing a paradigm where a careless motorist can blame a cyclist simply for what he was wearing is a bad, bad thing.

  33. I concur with John Cicarelli and the philospophy of “early detection.” As with motorcycles, many bike accidents fall into the “looked but didn’t see” category. I understand the subtle, negative messages helmets and vest may send about overall bike safety, but I am the family breadwinner and I have a duty to my family to do everything in my power to keep myself as safe as possible when biking on the road, and visibility is without question a top safety priority for cyclists. For daily bike commuting I wear a flimsy green-yellow traffic safety vest with retroflective vertical and horizontal stripes, and even in the hot, humid summer it doesn’t add noticably to my body heat. I remember almost running my car into a pedestrian crossing a busy street one day, I didn’t see him in the crosswalk as I was turning left unitl I got pretty close, as he was shirtless and sort of blended in to the background, he was hard to see. I have also had the same experience with turning in front of a grey car that blended into the background scenery. When you have alot of stimuli to sort out it helps to have obvious clues, like bright colors, for your senses to latch onto.

    Brian also made good points: …I say it’s OK to use a helmet or a vest, and here’s why: the majority of people will not cycle on our current roads, no matter what, and are not even thinking about it. Even if every single person who currently cycles were to get rid of her helmet and vest tomorrow, the message most people in the US would get would not be “cycling is safe,” but rather “those people are unsafe.” John C. makes a good point as well: …I suspect that if a motorist interprets your enhanced visibility choice as an indication that you’re serious about bike-as-transportation (and more likely to be competent), they’re more likely to view you as “just another driver” and do a proper pass.

  34. I thought of this thread while driving in the foggy twilight here in Houston this evening.

    While making a run to Home Depot for a tool to fix a home repair “emergency,” I noticed a cyclist riding in the gutter in the far right westbound lane of Westheimer Road (an arterial with a posted speed limit of 40 m.p.h.).

    The cyclist was dressed in dark clothing, wore no helmet, and I couldn’t see his reflectors. Yet, in the poor light, I could see him clearly (only because I was paying close attention to my surroundings because of the fog).

    I watched a couple of vehicles pass him. They slowed, but they did not change lanes like vehicles usually do for me when I ride in that lane in the dark. Of course, I ride in the center of the lane (the left tire track puts me within 3 feet of most traffic in the next lane, so I won’t ride there).

    Although he was visible, I think being conspicuous would have helped him more. In order of importance, I think he should have:
    1. Ridden in the center of the lane to force drivers to pass in the next lane.
    2. Had the headlight and rear reflector required by the Texas Transportation Code.
    3. Taken whatever other steps he could afford to be more conspicuous.

    While I agree that the bottom line for safety is competent operation of the bicycle and compliance with the law (whether we agree with it or not), I also think that, just like in my classroom, more “visual aids” added to our “presentations” will get the point across that bicycles are vehicles, too.

    And, in high-heat-and-humidity cities like Houston and Orlando, we’re probably already wearing special clothes for cycling (because our co-workers would lynch us if we didn’t bring something dry and clean for the workplace). Why not make it obnoxiously bright (and, as needed, reflective) since we’re getting the special materials anyway?

  35. “more “visual aids” added to our “presentations” will get the point across that bicycles are vehicles, too.”

    I don’t think that wearing “special” clothing will do that. The stranger one looks the one more is treated strangely.

    It’s bad enough that motorists (and I include myself) expect that cyclists will ignore traffic control devices and act like children,
    http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2009/01/07/no-safety-in-these-numbers/
    but to think it is better for all involved if they wear clothing normally reserved for pedestrians working around traffic, I think is wrong headed.

    It doesn’t say “Bicycles are behicles, too.” It says, “I know I shouldn’t be out here, so I have this safety vest on because I need it.”

  36. Eric writes: “[A reflective vest...] says, “I know I shouldn’t be out here, so I have this safety vest on because I need it.”

    There are two parts to that statement: “I have this safety vest on because I need it” and “I know I shouldn’t be out here”. The connection between these two thoughts — in motorists’ and bicyclists’ heads — is what this thread is all about, isn’t it?

    Thinking about these statements in the context of motorcyclists who wear reflective gear, I have to think that those operators do in fact believe they need the enhanced visibility. I’m sympathetic to bicyclists who feel the same way and act on that feeling. I don’t believe that that most feel they “shouldn’t be out there”.

    Many motorists don’t reliably “see” motorcyclists or bicyclists even when they look at them. I’m sure many of us have heard of “inattentional blindness” — here’s one of the best sites I’ve seen on the topic:

    http://www.visualexpert.com/Resources/inattentionalblindness.html

    John Ciccarelli