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-   -   How safe is high-visibility clothing? (http://www.bikeforums.net/advocacy-safety/623722-how-safe-high-visibility-clothing.html)

hshearer 02-23-10 01:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by noisebeam (Post 10436155)
Ummm, already is. Even the anti-cyclists make fun of the 'bumblebee' look.

I disagree that wearing bright clothing is mainstream amongst cyclists (and I'm talking all cyclists, not just enthusiasts). Helmets are mainstream, adequate lighting is getting to be pretty commonplace, but if you look at the majority of cyclists, bright clothing isn't a priority. I think there's a lot of room for improvement there.

rwp 02-23-10 03:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by closetbiker (Post 10440914)
Lots of times drivers see something, but their minds don't register that something is in their path and they better do something or they're going to hit it.

A driver may be sitting at a side street, waiting to enter a roadway, see a rider coming down the roadway, the rider is visible and has the right of way, but go anyway. Same thing with a driver waiting for a left turn or even immediately after overtaking a rider making a right turn in the riders path as if the overtaken rider suddenly ceased to exist. These are all very common scenarios.

Yeah, I hear you. I've got the broken bones to testify to that. It seemed to me that you were saying that being seen wasn't important if some drivers didn't react properly to seeing a cyclist. I was saying that at least seeing the cyclist was the first step, reacting properly was the second and that hi viz clothing was an important part of step 1. At least if he sees the cyclist, the driver's got a chance at achieving step 2 as well.

I think we're saying the same thing.

GriddleCakes 02-23-10 03:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crhilton (Post 10439543)
Incidentally, keep it in your pants on the bike. It's the law.

Wait, so if I get off the bike and walk, I can let my dingle dangle? What's the law regarding skateboarding and nudity? I'm uncomfortable with public exposure unless I have some sort of speedy get-away vehicle. Otherwise I just get mobbed by all the member-mesmerized ladies. And police.

Quote:

Originally Posted by closetbiker (Post 10440323)
Yeah. I don't know. Do the test and reconsider how important what you wear is compared to what people see when they look right at it

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch#playnext=1&playnext_from=TL&videos=x8XFhBC3zWA&v=Ahg6qcgoay4[/video]

Quote:

Originally Posted by annc (Post 10440352)
I guess we need a dancing bear with hi-viz clothing to answer the OP's question.

Seriously, how many more people do you think would pass that test if the bear was wearing a dayglo vest, instead of just blending in with the other dark apparelled players?

closetbiker 02-23-10 04:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rwp (Post 10441853)
Yeah, I hear you... I think we're saying the same thing.

I agree.

closetbiker 02-23-10 04:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GriddleCakes (Post 10441860)
... Seriously, how many more people do you think would pass that test if the bear was wearing a dayglo vest, instead of just blending in with the other dark apparelled players?

probably not many.

GriddleCakes 02-23-10 04:27 PM

I liked the ad when I first saw it, and I still think it clever. But I don't think that it work nearly as well if the bear: a) entered the camera and then stopped moving and b) was a color other than the colors worn by the two teams. The bear is aided in blending in by being a dark colored moving figure in a field half full of dark colored moving figures. Try pausing the video while the bear is on screen, and even in still frame he doesn't stand out that much.

I think that two lessons can be taken from the video. Drivers need to broaden their focus to include objects beyond other motorized traffic, and cyclists would benefit from attempting to stand out from their environment.

annc 02-23-10 04:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GriddleCakes (Post 10441860)
Seriously, how many more people do you think would pass that test if the bear was wearing a dayglo vest, instead of just blending in with the other dark apparelled players?

The dancing bear video is based on an actual research study so the answer is probably in study somewhere.

rob! 02-23-10 05:53 PM

People give me more room when I have taillights; especially at night (I usually have them on within 2 hours of sunset as well, so I'm counting that time).

For the record, the only time I was in an accident with a car was when I was wearing my [then new] fluorescent yellow jersey in daylight.

GriddleCakes 02-23-10 06:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by annc (Post 10442041)
The dancing bear video is based on an actual research study so the answer is probably in study somewhere.

Wow. Well, I'm dead wrong, for one. Plus, there's this:

"...it appears that observers are more likely to notice an unexpected event that shares basic visual features-in this case, color-with the events they are attending to. In a sense, this effect is the opposite of the traditional `pop-out' phenomenon in visual search tasks, which occurs when an item that differs in basic visual features from the rest of the display is easier to notice and identify."

Which suggests that hi-vis clothing will have the opposite of the intended effect, I think.

ItsJustMe 02-23-10 07:46 PM

Just ride with and without. Personally I think I get another couple of feet passing distance with the vest. However, it's hard for me to judge these days because I also run a Dinotte, which also DEFINITELY generates a lot more passing room - between the vest and the Dinotte, people not only pull over into the far side of the far lane to pass, they actually often slow down (I ride 60 MPH roads).

cudak888 02-23-10 07:54 PM

Quote:

How safe is high-visibility clothing?
Have you known a high-visibility vest to attack its wearer?

-Kurt

closetbiker 02-24-10 08:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GriddleCakes (Post 10442578)
Wow. Well, I'm dead wrong, for one. Plus, there's this:

"...it appears that observers are more likely to notice an unexpected event that shares basic visual features-in this case, color-with the events they are attending to. In a sense, this effect is the opposite of the traditional `pop-out' phenomenon in visual search tasks, which occurs when an item that differs in basic visual features from the rest of the display is easier to notice and identify."

Which suggests that hi-vis clothing will have the opposite of the intended effect, I think.

A while ago I read

http://images.thecarconnection.com/s...00226929_s.jpg

If I remember right, I believe it says something about how it is that drivers just don't see what's right in front of them.

closetbiker 02-24-10 10:12 AM

Just scanning bikesnobNYC and saw this

Hit-and-run driver claimed he didn't see 6-foot-tall orange rabbit on the pedicab

Quote:

Pedicab driver Kate Altermatt still can't believe the driver of a Mercedes didn't see her pedaling down Northwest Fourth Avenue last Easter. Altermatt, who is 6 feet tall, was wearing a bright orange bunny suit, and the Cascadia Pedicab was lit up with reflectors and a blinking red light.

"I was very visible," she said. ...

prathmann 02-24-10 11:27 AM

Here's a study on motorcyclist safety as a function of the visibility of clothing, helmet color, and use of daytime headlights:
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/328/7444/857
Bright clothing seemed to be the most effective.

But, as I and others have noted above, there are issues with such studies since there may well be other differences between riders who choose to wear conspicuous clothing and those who don't. It's the same problem that exists with case-control studies of helmet effectiveness in crashes.

invisiblehand 02-24-10 12:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by closetbiker (Post 10440323)
Yeah. I don't know. Do the test and reconsider how important what you wear is compared to what people see when they look right at it.

Hahaha ... I can't open the youtube link at work due to network restrictions. But from subsequent comments, I'll guess you are talking about counting passes while the bear moonwalks through the crowd.

But before that, you might want to reconsider whether people can avoid things they can't physically see. The example with the bear is only relevant to the question of whether drivers are looking for cyclists -- or perhaps motorcyclists -- in certain environments.

Quote:

Originally Posted by closetbiker (Post 10444572)
A while ago I read

http://images.thecarconnection.com/s...00226929_s.jpg

If I remember right, I believe it says something about how it is that drivers just don't see what's right in front of them.

What I recall is that being noticed is also a function of whether someone is looking for something or whether that someone has an expectation that something will be there. The example that comes to mind had to do with color if I am not mistaken.

Of course, whether a driver notices that "something" is probabalistic. It would be about the interaction between enough light physically reaching the driver and the cognitive function of the driver.

Prob(Noticed) = Prob("physically seeing object"|amount of light reflected) * Prob("cognitively aware of object"|physically seeing object)

Given the context of the common motivation for high-viz clothing, I assume that we are talking about low-light situations. In low-light environments, the effect on the first component is pretty large -- I don't have any cites handy, but I doubt that this is a controversial statement. Now perhaps there is some perverse circumstance where bright-yellow (or whatever) is far less likely to be noticed than something with poor reflectivity, but I suspect that other than the length of time that the cyclist is "visible" -- I would say that the longer one is physically visible, the greater the chance that a driver will become aware of the cyclist -- wearing high-rez material doesn't affect the second component in a negative manner. In VA, simply based on anecdotal observations, state and local employees working on roads or the side of roads often wear high-viz clothing and traffic cones/markers often have reflective material. So one might think that drivers might expect to see such material on roads making them more likely to cognitively notice it.

Now it is the case that if the second component is very small, then big changes in the first component will have little effect on the probability of being noticed. But I find it hard to believe that this probability will be very low. Drivers would be smashing into all sorts of things at a high frequency if it were the case.

invisiblehand 02-24-10 12:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by closetbiker (Post 10445049)

Using this in the context of a discussion on visibility's effect on collisions reminds me of people exhorting that their helmet saved their life after a collision/fall.

closetbiker 02-24-10 12:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by invisiblehand (Post 10445613)
Using this in the context of a discussion on visibility's effect on collisions reminds me of people exhorting that their helmet saved their life after a collision/fall.

can't argue with that. Just one example.

j3ns 02-25-10 07:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by prathmann (Post 10445408)
Here's a study on motorcyclist safety as a function of the visibility of clothing, helmet color, and use of daytime headlights:
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/328/7444/857
Bright clothing seemed to be the most effective.

But, as I and others have noted above, there are issues with such studies since there may well be other differences between riders who choose to wear conspicuous clothing and those who don't. It's the same problem that exists with case-control studies of helmet effectiveness in crashes.

Thank you prathmann, very informative and useful!
According the cited study, fluorocent or reflective clothing reduces risk of injury (for motorcyclists in New Zealand in 1993-1996) about 37%. Use of colors in jackets (frontal clothing) did not show association with risk of injury.

According to these results I've had it all wrong. Using high-visibility clothing is a big factor (at least for motorcyclists in New Zealand) and "bright colored normal clothes" doesn't help.

closetbiker 02-25-10 08:05 AM

Wasn't it Hurst, in "The Art of Urban Cycling" who wrote that a motorist can be looking straight at you but all that's registering in the mind of that motorist is that song that was playing earlier in the day ("Do you line Pina Colda's? ... Gettin' caught in the rain?")

njkayaker 02-27-10 10:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by j3ns (Post 10435292)
I do understand that it is common sense that more visibility helps. But how much in percents, or injuries per cycled miles, or something else concrete? Does false security play a role in this matter? Do we act more recklessly or trust the drivers more if we have our vests on?

Bicycle/car collisions are very rare and the data for the non-fatal ones are poorly collected and not reported in a way that would allow for analyisis.

Quote:

Originally Posted by j3ns (Post 10435292)
I do understand that it is common sense that more visibility helps. But how much in percents, or injuries per cycled miles, or something else concrete? Does false security play a role in this matter? Do we act more recklessly or trust the drivers more if we have our vests on?

Being more visibile has a benefit at long/medium range distances. You can certainly measure the distance at which things of various levels of visibility are detected.

=============

Quote:

Originally Posted by closetbiker (Post 10444572)
If I remember right, I believe it says something about how it is that drivers just don't see what's right in front of them.

You aren't remembering right. Sometimes, drivers don't "see" things that they should be seeing.

Quote:

Originally Posted by closetbiker (Post 10448987)
Wasn't it Hurst, in "The Art of Urban Cycling" who wrote that a motorist can be looking straight at you but all that's registering in the mind of that motorist is that song that was playing earlier in the day ("Do you line Pina Colda's? ... Gettin' caught in the rain?")

See following:

Quote:

Originally Posted by invisiblehand (Post 10445613)
Using this in the context of a discussion on visibility's effect on collisions reminds me of people exhorting that their helmet saved their life after a collision/fall.


closetbiker 02-27-10 02:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by njkayaker (Post 10458376)
You aren't remembering right.

well, I did say "If" and "something"

Quote:

Originally Posted by njkayaker (Post 10458376)
See following:

and I also said, "can't argue with that"

AndrewP 02-27-10 09:37 PM

Lots of cyclists ride at night in dark clothes without lights or reflectors without getting killed. This speaks to the care and vigilence of motorists. Lights and reflective clothing increases your safety, but LEDs are very directional so provide little help if they are not mounted well.

Artkansas 03-02-10 11:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 10435710)
Who will look at the dead bodies of cyclists and record the type of clothing they wear?


My ex.













She used to be a coroner.

ghettocruiser 03-02-10 01:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AndrewP (Post 10460524)
Lots of cyclists ride at night in dark clothes without lights or reflectors without getting killed. This speaks to the care and vigilence of motorists.

It might also speak to the ability of these cyclists to position themselves in locations on the roadway, select routes, or otherwise take measures where being seen by motorists is not critical for safety. I think many of these cyclists are aware of the added risks of being un-illuminated, even in the well-lit urban realm.

Is there anyone here who hasn't, at some point, had headlights fail and ridden home anyways? You had reflectors you say? Then did all the motorists that you encountered have functional, properly-aimed headlights that shone on your reflectors at the correct angle for functionality? Are you sure?

I've been caught out and ridden home probably dozens of times.

Less than idea? Certainly.

Was I reliant solely on motorist vigilance to prevent my demise? Hardly.

noisebeam 03-02-10 01:54 PM

In most locations one can travel by bicycle fully invisible in a safe (from other vehicles) manner, it is just not very effective.


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