Friday, November 6, 2009

Safety-Wear Update

It's been 2 months since I started regularly wearing a hi-viz mesh safety vest on essentially all my rides.

In retrospect, the cost-to-benefit ratio is huge!!

It's a subjective thing, trying to determine how much of a difference it makes in actual safety. Up 'til yesterday, however, I'd only had one incident where I got the impression that a driver didn't see me. That was at a downtown intersection where I was on a thru street and the offender on a side street with a stop sign. She started out, then slammed on her brakes when she saw me at the last second. (Probably a combination of my looming, hi-viz presence and loud hollerin'. The driver was a little blue-hair lady in a big pearly-white Cadillac; she was probably too old to safely drive 10 years ago!)

I take comfort in looking down when I'm riding, and observing how VISIBLE that vest is! Even in the worst conditions... dawn and dusk... that bright color really stands out!

Yesterday, I was riding up Roosevelt Street - another "collector" with stop-sign side streets. Some airhead gal - late 20s or early 30s I'd guess, in a Subaru wagon with phone plastered to ear - pulled out from a stop sign, then jammed on her brakes mid-intersection when she saw (and heard) me. The vest is NOT a force field. But I am convinced that very few drivers will deliberately run into a cyclist. Anything I can do to avoid 'em telling the investigator, "I didn't see him!" is a good thing. I'm a believer! (Thanks, Bob T!)

An effective safety vest can be had for less than 10 bucks. What's that? 2 Starbucks? Just search for "hi-viz mesh vest" and shop away. (Or better yet, support a local merchant. I got mine at D&B; my friend at Boise Rigging Supply says they sell 'em, too.)

Oh - one other thing. A guy at the office is a big Oregon Ducks fan. One day he saw the vest and said, "Hey! You're wearing my school colors!" (Of course, pretty much EVERY color is an Oregon color...)


Clancy said...

I am not sporting the hi-vis yellow but rather a nice Vandal Gold (yellow). I really like my new jacket from until today. Twice in the last week the zipper has skiped a tooth and derailed at the bottom. I will see how customer service is.

Bikeboy said...

Let me know how they deal with that, Clancy. (Zippers are definitely a problem area... I've had numerous zipper failures over the years, on gear that otherwise is still serviceable.)

I'm looking at them for a pair of shorts sometime next year, unless Santa brings me some.

bob t said...

Bikeboy, are you planning to start using your new flashlight in strobe mode during the day? If so, I think that you will notice additional benefits over and above using the hi-viz vest alone.

I've been waiting at intersections with the strobe on and actually seen those passing in vehicles turn their heads to glance my direction as the pass so I know that it's very noticable.

Spirit of the Season said...

Ditto what bob t said: I run my front light (cat-eye minewt) and rear light (planet bike superflash) on strobe during even daylight commutes and they really add to visibility.

Bikeboy said...

The light recommendation is a good one, people. Thanks.

I'm sure I'll at least play around with the notion. Obviously I'd want to use rechargeable batteries if I run the lights at all times.

Last night I was riding home on the "Clunker" at 9:30pm, and was/am amazed at the light output from that new flashlight. It easily lights up reflective signs, etc., a quarter-mile away.

I see fellow riders with both hi-viz and blinky lights in the in-between times (to and from work this time of year), and the difference in visibility between them and the dark-clad, unlit cyclists is quite startling!