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  1. #1
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    Clothing a factor in motorist's respect?

    Howdy. Do you find that motorists treat you differently depending on how you're dressed? Yesterday, I was all geeked out in Jersey and gloves and my Deuter backpack, looking like a cyclist (more mountain though because of my baggy shorts), riding through East L.A., when a passenger in a car full of teens leaned out the window and laughed at me really loudly. This has never happened before. I usually dress toned down, not in cycling specific clothing, but yesterday I was wearing a jersey and just the whole effect said "cyclist." I don't know if what I was wearing had anything to do with the incident, but it just made me think.

    Do you find that motorists give you more respect if you're in full cycling gear? Do you get made fun of more when you're in full cycling gear? Does how you dress make any difference whatsoever on how motorists treat you? Just wanted to put that out for discussion.

  2. #2
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    Teens make fun of anyone who looks different than them... like people in spandex. I wouldn't read into it too much.

  3. #3
    I get hit by cars Crash Dummy's Avatar
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    If your clothing causes non-teenagers to ridicule you, then you might be onto something. Teens will make fun of anything and everything they can. The other day, I was out for a run (sacrelige! ) and some kid yelled something incoherent at me. But regardless of whether or not it was negative, I still felt great because traffic was slow and I was outpacing cars on the sidewalk

    On a side note though, if your "dorky" clothes get you noticed, regardless of whether you get insulted for them, at least people know that you're there. If they know you're there, they *probably* won't hit you.

  4. #4
    Conservative Hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bloodstallion
    ..........when a passenger in a car full of teens leaned out the window and laughed at me really loudly..........
    'Tis the voice of adolescent insecurity. Not all of them have it, some are more mature. And it's not necessarily limited to teen-agers. Nothing of significance to pay any mind too.

    You should see me decked out in black spandex with jerseys that have pictures of giant roadrunners and big, red dragons and yellow suns. Especially when I've got a trailer full of cargo chasing my bike down the road. I guar-on-teeee there's some around that look funnier than you do.

    Edit-By the way. They absolutely hate it when you smile, yell and wave like you know them. <DUDE, WHAT'S UP?>
    Last edited by CommuterRun; 04-18-05 at 06:26 AM.

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    Teens will laugh at you because:

    (a) You're dressed funny
    (b) You look like a geek
    (c) You're simply there

    If you're new you probably are showing it in body language - subtly, but animals and teens can pick up on that. They can smell nervousness a mile away, from upwind! Nothing you can do but ride, ride, ride and when you "own the road" they'll know it. And still flip you off once in a while.

  6. #6
    Recumbent Evangelist
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    You get more respect if motorists can see your breath and you're puffing like a raging bull. Of course, it has to be 5 degrees C or less to see your breath, and in California that's like an ice age or something.

  7. #7
    Get the stick. darkmother's Avatar
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    Yeah, they all do that. Most of the time they're driving some POS Honda CRX, complete with a body kit sporting a huge rear wing and a front clip that looks like darth vader's mask. In such a situation, I am too busy laughing at them to notice.

  8. #8
    Zinophile tibikefor2's Avatar
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    I find that if I wear a toned down cycling jersey which contains red, white and blue I do not have problems with motorists. I live in Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC and not East LA so that could make also a difference.

  9. #9
    The Land of Living Skies
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    If you dress like you just fell off the turnip truck and don't command respect in the way you ride motorists will treat you as though they know the rules of the road and you don't. I don't wear cycling specific gear; I wear bicycle commuter specific gear. Since there really isn't any gear made for commuter cycling, I wear a hi vis very light wind proof jacket combined with a reflective vest and blinkies. I ride as though I am intermittantly invisible (you never know when) but predictable. It seems to work for me. Very rarely do I feel my safety is compromised (any season of the year).

  10. #10
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    I'm not sure that "respect" is the right term, but there's definitely something about making a first impression on motorists. So much of human behavior is the result of split-second decisions made subconciously. Motorists often have difficulty judging the speed and trajectory of cyclists. When I commute, I make a conscious effort to look like a guy who spends a lot of time riding fast in traffic, so that when a car comes up on me and the driver has to make a split second judgment, his first impression is, "there's a guy who spends a lot of time driving fast in traffic."

    For me that means a brightly colored cycling jersey or jacket, cycling shorts, and a helmet with reflective tape.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Monument Man's Avatar
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    I try to look very scary, very sure of my self, and agressive when commuting on my bike. Regardless of what I'm wearing (and I'm usually not in full blown jersey, etc) for clothes, the ATTITUDE I wear is one of ultimate confidence.

    I stare people down, yell to claim my right of way, use lots of hand signals, and otherwise try to ride fast and look like I know what I'm doing.

    Like DC Commuter says, I want motorists to immediately and subconsciously know I'm a guy who knows what's going on. I think that the clothes have something to do with it, The full spandex look isn't exactly the most, um, flattering, cool type of look but who cares.

  12. #12
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crash Dummy
    On a side note though, if your "dorky" clothes get you noticed, regardless of whether you get insulted for them, at least people know that you're there. If they know you're there, they *probably* won't hit you.
    Tend to agree... on my commutes I wear contrasting colors... colors that clash... bright green and red. I just ordered this tie dyed looking jersey.

    As far as the teens... for the most part they can be ignored... it is only when they get to be a bit older and still are not mature that they can be a problem. That attitude, coupled with booze is a bad combination.

  13. #13
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Since it is human nature to judge by looks and that there is a wide range of cycling 'looks' that even a non-cyclist can notice, I am sure that how you look on your bike creates an impression to drivers.

    I wear simple black cycling shorts and a hi vis t-shirt and a one color helmet. No other cycling bling.

    I think this creates the impression that I am serious about being noticed, care about my safety, but not uptight about looking like a 'decked out cycling racer enthusiast' - overall I am a functional cyclist aka a commuter.

    Maybe it works, cars give me good clearance, I don't get right/left hooked and never have had anyone yell anything derogatory to me and have had some nice chats with drivers while stopped at intersections.

    Al

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    Fred Zen Kabloink's Avatar
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    I noticed that I get more respect when I wear my orange mesh construction vest regardless of what else I am wearing.

  15. #15
    Senior Member billh's Avatar
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    Yes definitely. The best is when cute little teenie girls whistle and say something lewd like "Nice Butt". If they only knew I am twice their age, hehe.

  16. #16
    I'd rather be riding Noif666's Avatar
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    I had a middle aged man yell a nasty word in Greek at me yesterday. He was looking straight at me so it can't have been at anyone else because he was the only pedestrian around, and aside from me on my bike everyone else was in cars.
    A few km's later a car beep at me for no apparent reason - it was a two lane road, I was travelling along the inner lane and they were in the outer lane. Just to keep this on topic, yes I was wearing spandex shorts and a bright orange jersey (which I though was reasonable seeing as it was overcast).
    When I wear non-cycling clothes I don't seem to get people going out of their way to yell or toot at me, although the crappy drivers still exist, the kind that can't go around you leaving enough space...I digress. sorry

  17. #17
    Senior Member G4teamG's Avatar
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    A car full of teens in East LA yelled something at you? Trust me, things could have been a WHOLE LOT WORSE! I would rather dodge laughs then bullets. Trust me I know. Keep riding and just smile back. Be safe.

  18. #18
    coitus non circum. Mars's Avatar
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    I have found that when I am in my lycra, helmet, and "angry eyes" sunglasses I dont' get hassle from the motorists regarding driving issues. I think the full kit looks official and competent, so drivers aren't as sure that you are doing something wrong for exisiting.

    On the other hand, full lycra does tend to attract more derisive comments from the little hoodlums and rednecks. But, my god, look at how THEY dress! Group 1, baggy jeans falling off, trucker hats, big fake gold jewelry. Hahahaha! And the other? Can you say plaid, or camoflage? NASCAR hats and jackets? How can anyone take THEIR clothing opinions seriously?
    "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

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    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Definitely. If you ride naked, you'll notice the other road users giving you MUCH more room.

  20. #20
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    Yeah, I'm not worried about those teenagers. It's just that that usually never happens to me because people say I give a scary first impression. It's not a conscious thing, but I use this to my advantage on the road and pretty much bully my way around. The only difference was that day I was decked out in more cycling specific, "dorky" looking clothing. It just made me think that the more intimidating you look, the more likely motorists are to leave you alone and give you your space.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibikefor2
    I live in Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC and not East LA so that could make also a difference.
    I actually don't live in East L.A., I was just passing through.

  22. #22
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Best reply of this thread...Teens will hassle you just because you are there...Does not make a difference what you wear...What they think does not effect my behavior one bit..Their habits..They have no room to criticize anyone..Wear what you want..In fact why not hassle the little @@@@@@@@. I am little emotional , once the little jerks hassled me in front of a high school...Spit ant hit me on the knee...
    Great, in traffic; Caught up with them ...Spit back.

  23. #23
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    It's the attitude of the youth from the environment, East LA and other communities of simular tude. I know out here in San Gabriel I don't get any juice for what I wear but in certain parts of Altadena I would. So I gernerallly dress according to what area I am about to ride through to fit the tude. Plain and simple if I roll through places where a lot of attitude is apparent and colorful graphics when I'm riding in places like Palos Verdes, Laguna beach, or Malibu. That is just how it is.

  24. #24
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    a consideration in many American cities...Stand out..YOu might get killed..reality..Glad not where, i live...I think.

  25. #25
    Friar UziBeatle's Avatar
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    On the teenager bit, speaking from a 48 year old (male) perspective here:

    I've come to the conclusion, after years of observational studies and personal experience of being a
    male teenager once, that the typical male teen is mentally ********. The degree of *********** varies from
    teen to teen and seems to be inversly proportional to age (the younger the teen the greater the degree of
    ***********).

    So , one must cut them some slack. Thankfully not all male teens suffer from the malady
    as severely as some of their cohorts. Most grow out of it, some do not.

    Teenage females, I must say seem to not be nearly as mentally defective as their teen male counterparts

    A simple proof of this. Ever notice how consistantly one sees male teens (especially at the younger age of the spectrum) ride their bikes all over the road and almost INVARIABLY on the wrong side as they just randomly ride in brownian motion fashion all over the roadway? I've found female teens, when I do see them riding which is rare, tend to behave in a more adult and mature way in so far as bicycling goes. THat said with sufficient contact with their more challanged opposite sex bretheren the '***********' can rub off and they too, can be affected. I do believe the affliction is communicable in some way.

    I must comment on the 'being seen' aspect of clothing. I tend to wear the brightest orange, red, to yellowish tops I can find, be they button up shirts made from cotton to something more evaporative freindly. On occasion I put on something bright green but try to avoid that as it tends to blend with
    Texas green flora about here.

    What bugs me when I see other cyclists about our busy roads here is that many don't seem to comprehend the aspect of visabilty 'fashion'. I've seen too many in all black, or some other WAY unsuitable
    color combination that leaves them very hard to see in anything but the brightest of lighting conditions. I've been known to make a well intentioned comment about visibilty color as I pass by the party in question.


    I hope I haven't offended anyone but if I have, have a good day I know I will. Off to ride!
    Here, here are some joints, and a guitar.
    G.D. hippies.

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