Many cyclists forego reflective clothing, and we support the right to choose what works best for you. However, we did take the liberty of filming ourselves on a dark country road without wearing any reflectives, and we were surprised with the results. See them for yourself in the video below.
Significantly, this film wasn’t shot in the middle of the night. We filmed it at 4.30pm on 11 December (in Scotland).
Rider #1 is wearing reflective cycle clothing. Dressed like this you’ll be as conspicuous as a baby whale in a goldfish pond.
Rider #2 is wearing cycling clothing with retro-reflective trim that glows bright when shone upon from any angle. Off the bike, this style of clothing readily doubles as everyday leisure wear.
Rider #3 is wearing everyday outdoor clobber.
This film makes it clear that while Rider #3 is cycling perfectly legally at night with his front and rear lights switched on, he is unlikely to be spotted as quickly and from as far away as Riders #1 and #2.
However, Rider #3 needn’t be left in the dark. We have many bright options for making yourself more conspicuous after dark. Slap on a pair of reflective ankle bands and your bobbing legs will be picked up by every following headlight. Apply retro-reflective tape to solid parts of the bike, such as the mudguards or the back of the crank arms and you’re more likely to be seen from all angles, yet you won’t have to abandon your right to wear what you like when you bike.
BENEFITS OF REFLECTIVES
- Reflectives can be more eye catching than lights.
- Reflectives can cover metres of your bike or person.
- A bike light lens is rarely more than a couple of centimetres wide.
- Reflective piping, dots and tape are near weightless.
- Reflectives require no batteries or maintenance.
- Reflectives keep on working in circumstances where lights might fade or fail.
View some of our favourite NightVision reflective clothing by Altura.
MORE THOUGHTS ON BEING SEEN ON YOUR BIKE
‘Never hug the kerb. That’s rule one of road positioning on a bicycle. You need to be further out into the road, sometimes right in the middle of the traffic stream.’ So begins this excellent article on the CycleScheme website.
Taking up the best position acknowledges the fact that we human’s have limited peripheral vision as revealed in this article by RAF fighter pilot, John Sullivan’s in London Cyclist, which concluded, ‘High contrast clothing and lights help. In particular, flashing LED’s (front and rear) are especially effective for cyclists as they create contrast and the on-off flashing attracts the peripheral vision in the same manner that movement does.’