The December, 2010 issue of Bicycling magazine has an interesting and important article about high-visibility clothing, written by Bob Mionske. The data was researched by Rick Bernardi, J.D.
Here’s an excerpt, “There’s safety in numbers-especially when the numbers show how high-visibility clothing can prevent an accident. Experts use two figures to measure how drivers see cyclists on the road: perception distance, which expresses how far away something is first spotted up the road, and recognition distance, the spot where the driver can perceive what that something is. The greater these distances, the more time a driver has to react.”
“Fluorescent clothes. When cyclists wear fluorescent clothing, a drivers perception distance increases from 400 feet to 2,200 feet during the day and from 150 feet to 560 feet at night.”
Fluorescent clothes therefore gives the driver 5 ½ times more time to react to a cyclist.
Let’s look at the practical application. From the time a driver doing 45 mph sees a cyclist in plain clothing ahead on the road, (perception distance) even before he can identify it’s a cyclist he will be upon him in 6 seconds. The article did not identify recognition distance, but obviously it occurs when the driver is closer to the cyclist and has even less time to avoid him.
The simple expedient of a cyclist wearing fluorescent clothing in the same situation gives the driver 33 seconds between perceiving something on the road and being upon the cyclist. The recognition distance, logically, must also be greater by a comparable factor.
The conclusion is very simple – you have to be crazy not to wear fluorescent bike clothing.
I started this blog to discuss bicycle safety in all its forms. One of my pet peeves is visibility. Riders in dark clothing are difficult to see, particularly in deep shade or on overcast days. To try and deal with this problem, I also developed a bike clothing line which I call see me wear™. It was my intent to produce cycling jerseys offering the greatest possible visibility.
Before you get annoyed at this crass commercialism and vow to never visit here again; you should know that profits from the sale of the clothing will go to rails-to-trails conservancy (www.railstotrails.org) to help create safer places to bike.
You should also know that the clothing is absolutely top quality and is 100% made in the U.S.- that includes the fabric the printing and the sewing. We want to do our tiny bit to help keep American jobs right here at home.
So if you’re a cyclist or know a cyclist ask them to take a look at our web site; www.seemewear.com. Or call me at 336-282-4633.
Finally, even though the article shows a big advantage for fluorescent clothing at night; we think it’s far too dangerous to ride after dark, no matter what you wear or how many lights you have on your bike. Ride safely!