Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Unintended consequences

I am a fan of a hi-viz style of jersey when riding. I go all out to ensure that drivers will never be able to stand up in court and say, "I didn't see him". If they said that, the jury would laugh them out of the witness stand after seeing the luminous monstrosities that I wear.

I got to wondering today about the unintended consequences of more and more cyclists attiring themselves like me. Sales of flourescent cycling accessories appear to be booming - everyone who rides a bike soon becomes paranoid about being hit by a dopey car driver. Many are too afraid to even cycle on quiet roads because of their paranoia about being collected.

What happens though when a tipping point is reached in hi-viz cycling gear, and we find that say 80% of cyclists are riding around in day-glo, and 20% and still in normal street clothes. Will we discover that motorists become so conditioned to seeing day-glo, that they utterly fail to see cyclists clad in a normal way?

I think this has already happened with motorbikes and the requirement to have the headlight on during daylight. I've seen a car almost collect a motorbike that had no headlight showing - the driver was conditioned to see a light, and when there wasn't one there, the brain refused to acknowledge the presence of a motorbike.

Food for thought.


Richard_H said...

The other thing I like about hi-viz polo shirts, the price:

1 Cycling jersey: (Min) $90
1 Hi viz polo shirt from Lowes: $10 - $15.

Tough choice....

Pedro the Ignorant said...

Interesting point re motorbikes.
I ride an old (70's) BMW that doesn't have or require a permanently lit daytime headlight.
I have noticed the same thing, that a number of car drivers seem to be blind to the bike without the headlight on.
I bought one of those spinning white LED pushbike lights and mounted it on the Beemer handebars for city riding.
Sticks out like you know what!