I have long advocated for road cyclists to become aware of what makes them more conspicuous as riders to passing drivers. The science supporting my arguments is evolving as new studies are conducted. I’d like to comment on two recent articles. The first in the Wall Street Journal titled “How Cyclists Can Stay Safe on the Road” (July 1, 2019) and from Road Bike Rider by John Marsh, “Study: Cyclists Safer on the Road When Using These High Visibility Items.”
First: Conspicuous Jerseys. I have often mentioned a Danish study supporting the dramatic increase in visibility of a road cyclist wearing a yellow fluorescent jacket. The newer study downplays the value of a fluorescent jersey since it is worn statically on the upper body, which is not in active motion. The writer speaks in favor of fluorescent colors on the legs. I always wear a bright yellow jersey on the theory that I want to have every possible advantage available. Crashes happen in multiple ways. We never know the sequence of events in advance, and we simply don’t know how many times a jersey might permit a driver to see and avoid hitting a cyclist.
Second: Conspicuous colors on the legs and behind the ankles. These articles confirm the data supporting the visibility advantages of fluorescents worn on legs and on ankles (bright socks). This is linked to the term conspicuity which, in our context, refers to being “easily seen and noticed … attracting special attention.” It is the combination of the fluorescent color together with the movement of the legs that enhances conspicuity. The data cited shows a threefold increase in visibility over a static jersey. I am an advocate of all three!
Third: Flashing lights front and rear (and ankles). The data largely confirms what I have been talking about for more than a year. Bright flashing lights, both front and rear, are significantly more noticeable to drivers than static solid ones (and dramatically safer than no light). They also cite a Danish study on the value of a static solid red light worn behind each ankle or clipped to the rear of the shoe.
Finding fluorescent leggings is not easy. I would be happy to have a reader let me know where to find them. Pearl Izumi has a great selection of neon socks, as do others, I’m sure. Trek is a big player in this field.
Yes, it is possible to simply get in front of the wrong driver who is too infirm or distracted to recognize cyclists who even take all these precautionary steps. Regardless, I intend to continue to incorporate each of them into my riding gear, looking for any available edge in my favor. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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