Hi fellow peddlers.
I am worried about the INVISIBLE cyclists among you who seem obsessed with BLACK CYCLING GEAR. Please always cycle in HIG VIZIBILITY clothing and reduce your chance of motor vehicle drivers treating you as road kill. While I have your attention remember to have those flashing lights front and rear.
Hi fellow peddlers.
Not to mention that here in Arizona black is not a great choice for temperature regulation.
I am typically lit up like a 747. But I have the same concerns regarding invisible joggers on the bike paths in the early hours or in the evening. Not hit one yet, but I’ve certainly had a few close calls.
Do we know if there is any research in this area though? Is it one of those areas where we think black is less safe but there are no facts to support this? Is kit colour irrelevant if you have good lights on your bike? After one of our van drivers drove into a fluorescent police car recently I do wonder if there is any point worrying
Matt de Neef wrote an article about the research on this very topic a while back:
In my single person study (myself), hi viz has absolutely zero effect.
I’ve multiple times almost been taken out by cars at corners when, once in Rapha Pink up top and shoe covers. Another time wearing my Knights of Suburbia yapameyepuka bright pink jersey.
I always run a front light (on flash in daytime) and rear light and after dark I try to have more reflective clothing and socks as I find this has a much better visibility rate.
Also recently got a POC Octal MIPS in Zinc Orange, as I notice them a mile away in my own riding and driving.
Yes, concerned me for a while, why riders do it I’ll never work it out…I’m bright in some way when riding
The lack of hi-viz and/or black/grey/dark jerseys always feels like there’s a bit of victim-blaming.
My bikes and helmets all have flashing lights, my bag if commuting also has flashing LEDs attached plus in low light I’ve got reflective ankle bands and gloves if cold, but I’ve had more close calls commuting where I’m not wearing aero dark monochrome jerseys and look like a Xmas tree there’s so much colour/flashing/reflective stuff.
It feels like the drivers saying “I would have seen you if only you had 1 extra bit of bright clothing on”, is them deflecting from their poor driving and wanting to avoid guilty feelings. I’ve got enough flashing lights and reflective strips to impersonate a 70s disco but because my top is black is my fault?
An excellent Article on the subject from Galibier cc
It is nearly a fact that cyclists have generally shunned team sport participation, yet we ride around together in small and large groups, bonding through a shared passion. Part of the need to belong is buying the uniform. The ‘correct’ shorts. The helmet that Mathieu Van der Poel uses. The expensive clothing and components we purchase when the 5 minute power output produced fails to bring self admiration. We are all guilty.
On the club chain gang, fluorescent yellow is a divisive colour within the cycling community. Flo Yellow utilizes widest wavelengths of the visible spectrum to make it ‘pop’ on the roadside in low light conditions, so it is a ‘safe ‘ colour and when worn on a rider makes them more visible on the roadside.
But it has long been the preserve of the new cyclist, in the trainers and a massive flo yellow windproof jacket that is worn winter and summer as it is their cycling jacket – regardless of outside weather conditions. We are all brothers and sisters, and we all started here. ALL of us- even you- but hours and years spent in the saddle makes us want to earn the distinction between the new cyclist, that you were and the cyclist that you are now. We want to belong to the experienced cyclist community. Regardless of your functional power threshold, you want to dress like a retired pro and flo yellow isn’t looked upon by the more elitist members of our community, and there are many, as the ‘correct uniform’. The hours and years in the headwinds and slow punctures and magazines images absorbed, graduated you to be a cyclist. And flo yellow is a reminder of reflectors on spokes and oil prints on your football socks.
Yes, a muted dark green is the colour of the moment . Seen on many a high contrast advertising picture. A lone rider battling up the Stelvio climb. I want to be that rider ignoring how much I detest the ‘rules’ of cycling I am, life everyone else, influenced and inside I really want to be in the high Italian alps, regardless if barely visible in the black jersey – and not Philip in his flo yellow, riding to get dog treats from the chemist.
Well, here is a shocker. Philip is cooler than Alberto. Not only does his dog love him more- but human eyes are built to be most sensitive to that particular wavelength of light (~550 nanometres) where the rods and cones which collect the light in the human eye ‘see’ the yellow/green easier. Human eyes include the eyes of lightly intoxicated truck drivers and turbo-blown Audi drivers that close pass us. There is a deep internal fear, at the end of the garment design process, when choosing the dye colour. The fabrics are selected, samples tested in the wild roads and the final fear… of someone getting run over in one of our garments.
We had dark green Pantone 627c, a lovely deep colour which we use in our Roubaix mid-layer jersey attached to the order form of the new Mistral jacket for months after the purchase order went in. The dark green will sell more – help the brand image… look cool. Well you know what’s cooler than new DuraAce 12 speed? saying “ I’m home ” as you arrive back tired and intact, on a dull December day.
If the flo yellow colour choice made lowered Audi Driver see you one half, of a single second earlier and not hit you with his wing mirror- then flo yellow is not only ice cool but smooth as warm butter.
A hurried phone call to our fabric mill got the dye colour of our fifth edition of the Mistral jacket changed to Flo yellow and the ALL black version, changed back, to the highlighted version with Flo Yellow contrasts ……and probably lowered future sales of the jacket. We have the finest fabric available, the design is refined, so colour is not incidental but Flo Yellow is simply beautiful.
It is not the cyclist’s fault if lightly intoxicated truck driver knocks you down. It is his fault. Period.
Wear what you want, when you want . I love that my friend Pat wears a pair of Swedish team bib tights which I gave him 8 years ago, and are electric blue. I would not wear them- but I havn’t his confidence .
Dark green on a winter day isn’t as visible a flo yellow, so I would rather celebrate looking like a cyclist, any cyclist far from home, than have a tired paramedic cut my forest green jacket off and remove the most of lowered Audi man’s bumper from my spine.
“I’m sorry….I didn’t see you”
Some quick Google work with a few articles, some referencing studies: (Due to new member limits, I can’t post all in one comment yet. I will try to add the others that seem worthwhile soon.)
Short of posting individual links, here is the Google result I used to find them in the first place:
Good road sense and healthy paranoia is 100 times more effective than hi-vis clothing.
A senior citizen run over me on his car 7 years ago. Spent christmas and new year unconscious in hospital with brain hematoma. Since then I try to make it a habit to always check my back while cycling.
Like most, I also like dark colors outfit. But I keep it only for group ride. For solo I will wear bright colors. Shit happened. All we could do is just to minimized it.
I understand your frustration, and fortunately I haven’t had close calls with cars.
My challenge is when I commute at dusk or late in the afternoon in winter when lights and clothes wouldn’t make a difference with visibility, and I’m fortunate I rode a majority of each leg of my commute on shared paths where impacts (with pedestrians or other cyclists) would cause less damage.
Some people don’t have that option to ride in areas where cars are very dangerous. Dan, it sounds like where you ride (I’m guessing the exurbs/rural roads on the way to King Lake), cars are very dangerous, as opposed to straight, wide, possibly multi-lane roads in which visibility can be a larger factor. I love that area, and I love those roads, and I wish I could live closer to that area for those roads.
My experience there is that there are drivers who may see you but aren’t respectful of space. Yes, that can happen anywhere, but they’re especially disrespectful there compared with the rest of Melbourne.
Also, roads are a bit windy, hilly and narrow, and they have high speed limits, so visibility and space are challenged.
It seems that the specific cars and roads are the issue, not the colour of your clothes, and your (legitimate) one-person study shows the limits of high visibility, but it doesn’t completely discount the importance of being seen with bright clothes and lights.