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Hi-Vis Clothing vs. Hi-Vis Road Positioning
At times like these we grudgingly agree with those “experts” who say that being seen while riding is “important.” This is why we created the Traffic Master jersey. Our goal was to make the brightest cycling jersey that we could conceive of, a retina-searing, listerine-for-the-eyes kind of garment that will keep us comfortable, warm and quite visible to our motorist friends …
The issue of whether Hi-Vis clothing should be worn by bike riders, or not, is contentious (see e.g. Copenhagenize). Without getting caught in arguments, we think it’s your road positioning that has a much greatest impact on your safety and visibility in traffic. Take for example this video demonstrating the visibility of some riders positioned in a truck driver’s blind spot. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, the driver is not going to see you if you’re positioned there. Similarly, if you ride past a side road or through a roundabout, your visibility is greatly affected by where you choose to position yourself in the travel lane. If you ride near the centre of the lane, you are far more visible there than on the far left of the road near the ‘door zone’.
This is because most drivers’ eyes are conditioned to look to the centre of the lane to see on-coming vehicles approaching. If you ride near the centre of the lane in such situations, you’re going to get seen. As an added benefit, you’re also going to see any cars approaching much sooner, because you have a better sightline of the intersection.
Visibility essentially comes down to two things: Seeing and Being Seen. Wearing Hi-Vis clothing will enhance your visibility, especially at night and when there is reduced light, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that wearing a fluro vest will instantly make you visible to all other road users. In the words of London Cyclist:
"My argument here isn’t against high vis clothing. My argument is: Don’t just rely on high vis clothing. There is something that far surpasses the power of high vis. Road positioning."
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