Hi-viz still officially promoted

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13/10/2010 at 09:26
Report in today's Brighton daily paper, the Argus, about the 20th motorcyclist killed on Sussex roads this year. Collision with van.

It says Neil Hopkins of the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership "urged motorcyclists to wear bright safety clothing to make themselves more visible."

It also says the van driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. So Mr Hopkins seems to be suggesting that the van driver would have had a better chance of not killing the biker if the latter had been wearing hi-viz gear.

Last year Sussex police ran a campaign of actually stopping bikes and scooters and handing the riders free hi-viz vests.

Seems the authorities remain convinced that bright stuff is helpful.
21/10/2010 at 07:36
Raysa wrote (see)
 Seems the authorities remain convinced that bright stuff is helpful.

Just ask them for some evidence that hi-vis is beneficial rather than listen to their supposition.

Then ask them if their dayglo batternbug covered vehicles ever suffer from SMIDSY's.

Then make your own mind up.

22/10/2010 at 17:20
FJSRiDER. wrote (see)

Just ask them for some evidence that hi-vis is beneficial rather than listen to their supposition.

Don't think I'll bother. I asked them that when they ran the campaign last year, and they didn't have a compelling case.

Then make your own mind up.


I already have - my conclusion is that a decisive conclusion isn't available. Neither the 'ayes' or the 'nays' of the debate strike me as having a convincing argument.

23/10/2010 at 07:53
Raysa wrote (see)
I already have - my conclusion is that a decisive conclusion isn't available. Neither the 'ayes' or the 'nays' of the debate strike me as having a convincing argument.

Have you run into lots of cyclists without lights and pedestrians crossing the road at night or do you see them?  Do you bump into trees in wet weather or can you see them? Do police vehicles suffer from SMIDSYs?

I suspect you can see them.  Police vehicles suffer from SMIDSYs.  Therefore hi-viz is not necessary. 

It's much worse if you consider that it might work.  As that leads to risk compensation.

23/10/2010 at 10:13
FJSRiDER. wrote (see)

Police vehicles suffer from SMIDSYs. Therefore hi-viz is not necessary.

The fact that some SMIDSYs happen to hi-viz vehicles doesn't mean that hi-viz is never effective - only that it isn't always effective. We can't know how many accidents might have been avoided by it - any more than we can tell how many accidents might have been avoided by people not wearing hi-viz and therefore not subject to risk compensation.

It's much worse if you consider that it might work. As that leads to risk compensation.


It doesn't have to. Risk compensation, by its nature a subconscious tendency, can be over-ridden by conscious decision. Also it's quite possible to think that hi-viz might work but still not wear it (therefore avoiding the risk of risk compensation). I remain unconvinced either way, but I don't normally wear hi-viz.

But anyway, back to the police assertion - it seems to me that this issue is an important one and I wish those advising the police and highways authorities would look into the 'evidence' more thoroughly and give the whole question more thorough consideration. They could do a lot worse than start by reviewing all the relevant posts on this forum over the last few years!

Edited: 23/10/2010 at 10:14
23/10/2010 at 13:32
Raysa wrote (see)
The fact that some SMIDSYs happen to hi-viz vehicles doesn't mean that hi-viz is never effective - only that it isn't always effective. We can't know how many accidents might have been avoided by it - any more than we can tell how many accidents might have been avoided by people not wearing hi-viz and therefore not subject to risk compensation.

I think you're missing my point.  You can see poorly illuminated dark objects without hi-viz and day-glow'd up objects still get hit.  Ergo the need for hi-viz as a safety aid is not demonstrated. 

Sure, people still get run over, trees hit and morons crash into ambulances but I don't think this is largely because they were really not visible.

But I still eagerly await the evidence that hi-viz plays any part in preventing incidents. To date I have seen precisely none.

Raysa wrote (see)
It doesn't have to. Risk compensation, by its nature a subconscious tendency, can be over-ridden by conscious decision. Also it's quite possible to think that hi-viz might work but still not wear it (therefore avoiding the risk of risk compensation). I remain unconvinced either way, but I don't normally wear hi-viz.

I'm not really bothered about what you personally do - it is what the authorities are doing promoting it that does concern me, as you can bet that the people handing out this stuff suggest, if not directly, that it'll make you 'safer'.  Those who accept this and wear it will think it does and therefore risk compensation comes into effect.  

Raysa wrote (see)
But anyway, back to the police assertion - it seems to me that this issue is an important one and I wish those advising the police and highways authorities would look into the 'evidence' more thoroughly and give the whole question more thorough consideration. They could do a lot worse than start by reviewing all the relevant posts on this forum over the last few years!

One good thing that may come from this government spending review is that these 'initiatives' will need to be closely assessed for 'value'.  I guess that if there is some evidence that hi-viz really does reduce crashes then whoever wants to keep their job will find a way of promoting the idea in a way that shows us exactly how it works.... 
28/10/2010 at 12:47
FJSRiDER. wrote (see)

But I still eagerly await the evidence that hi-viz plays any part in preventing incidents. To date I have seen precisely none.

you're not likely to though, people don't report non-incidents. I don't think it out of the realms of possibilty that on a dark night against a dark background hi-viz can make you more noticeable.

Have a mint. They're free
28/10/2010 at 13:06

Have to admit that I don't wear hi-vis / reflective gear, but then i'm on a bike with lights.  I think some of the ninja cyclists that seem to come out of the woodwork at this time of year in the dark mornings wearing stealth-black and no lights might want something a tad more visible.

29/10/2010 at 14:54
TongPo wrote (see)
FJSRiDER. wrote (see)

But I still eagerly await the evidence that hi-viz plays any part in preventing incidents. To date I have seen precisely none.

you're not likely to though, people don't report non-incidents.

I would expect to be able to see evidence that shows that the promotion of hi-viz as a safety is relevant.  Especially when subsidised by the tax payer.

TongPo wrote (see)
I don't think it out of the realms of possibilty that on a dark night against a dark background hi-viz can make you more noticeable.

To be 'more noticible' (or even slightly visible) I think that would require reflective material and light directed at it.  Otherwise it is just dark as florescent materials require daylight to fluoresce.
29/10/2010 at 14:55
hextal wrote (see)

Have to admit that I don't wear hi-vis / reflective gear, but then i'm on a bike with lights.

I have lights too.  I use them to see where I'm going in the dark - it's what they are for.

hextal wrote (see)

I think some of the ninja cyclists that seem to come out of the woodwork at this time of year in the dark mornings wearing stealth-black and no lights might want something a tad more visible.


How do you know they come out at this time of year?
30/10/2010 at 07:19
FJSRiDER. wrote (see)

hextal wrote (see)

I think some of the ninja cyclists that seem to come out of the woodwork at this time of year in the dark mornings wearing stealth-black and no lights might want something a tad more visible.


How do you know they come out at this time of year?
You feel the bump when you run over them. 

Everyone is entitled to my opinion.
30/10/2010 at 23:37
Yeah - I generally base my figures on what I wipe off the front fairing / front bumper.

Seems that summer is big for midgies and autumn its mainly ninja-cyclists, those shurriken marks take some T-Cutting out!!

31/10/2010 at 08:18
hextal wrote (see)
Yeah - I generally base my figures on what I wipe off the front fairing / front bumper.

Seems that summer is big for midgies and autumn its mainly ninja-cyclists, those shurriken marks take some T-Cutting out!!

Seems to me like you might have just reaslised that you actually manage to see these 'stealth-black and no lights' cyclists.  
31/10/2010 at 10:07

Intresting Kev, I read that as the ones that distracted you with lamps helped cause the incident?

Thinking back - if they had been using just a 'normal' cycle lamp do you think you would have reacted differently?  Would them being dressed up in hi-viz have helped?

31/10/2010 at 12:12
Maybe he should have worn retroreflective (if he wasn't), and then had one of those lights turned back towards himself - low enough to avoid dazzling himself but aimed at his jacket!
31/10/2010 at 19:55

I'd disagree about the head lights being stupid on the road. On their own, maybe not so good as they're not where expected.  But given the extremely narrow focus of most bike lights you can get real problems if you need to make a sharp left / right or pretty much in any dealings with pedestrians.

Edited: 31/10/2010 at 19:55
31/10/2010 at 22:35
FJS - you are correct in that I did (in seriousness) avoid them. The issue being that I wasn't able to see them (or more accurately identify them) until much later than had they been lit or wearing something reflective which would have given more advance notice.

I think the issue is that by wearing dark colours and no lights/reflectors in unlit areas cyclists are throwing more of the responsibility for their own safety at the other road users. Which is their perogative, as long as they don't go moaning if they get clipped by someone that didn't see them in time to take adequate avoiding action.

Not sure of the legal side, but I have a feeling that If I were to run over a guy in hi-viz with lights front and rear I would get into more trouble than if it were one of the aforementioned 'ninjas', as I would expect that to be used as a mitigating factor in any defence arguments (rightly or wrongly).
01/11/2010 at 06:06
hextal wrote (see)
FJS - you are correct in that I did (in seriousness) avoid them. The issue being that I wasn't able to see them (or more accurately identify them) until much later than had they been lit or wearing something reflective which would have given more advance notice.

How much 'advance notice' do you need?  You can see unlit cyclists in dark clothing at night. 

Which was kind of my point.

hextal wrote (see)
I think the issue is that by wearing dark colours and no lights/reflectors in unlit areas cyclists are throwing more of the responsibility for their own safety at the other road users. Which is their perogative, as long as they don't go moaning if they get clipped by someone that didn't see them in time to take adequate avoiding action.

I don't think they are behaving correctly - the issue was that even without being wrapped in hi-viz and dazzling others with lamps strapped on their heads you can see them.   Which is something I would expect.

hextal wrote (see)
Not sure of the legal side, but I have a feeling that If I were to run over a guy in hi-viz with lights front and rear I would get into more trouble than if it were one of the aforementioned 'ninjas', as I would expect that to be used as a mitigating factor in any defence arguments (rightly or wrongly).

Best of luck with that one.  There is some requirements for bicycles to have lights at night so you might have some mitigation - although your confession above suggests that you can see unlit cyclists so that might not help you in court. 

Do you think any punishment you receive should be lessened if any pedestrians you run over were not well illuminated too?

01/11/2010 at 08:49
You can see unlit cyclists in dark clothing at night??

Sometimes you can - often you can't. Particularly if there are additional visibility problems such as rain.

I have often failed to see unlit cyclists at night until way past the point where I could have avoided them if we'd been on a collision course instead of in near-miss positions.
01/11/2010 at 09:09
Raysa wrote (see)
You can see unlit cyclists in dark clothing at night??

Sometimes you can - often you can't. Particularly if there are additional visibility problems such as rain.

I have often failed to see unlit cyclists at night until way past the point where I could have avoided them if we'd been on a collision course instead of in near-miss positions.

I'm not sure what you are telling us here?  Cyclists should have lights on at night and in inclement conditions?  We know that.  But some don't and you have managed not to crash into them? 

Well done.  What do you want?  A medal for being able to see? 

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