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High vis gear

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by Saspotato, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. Hi,

    I am on my Ls and I have started commuting to work during peak hour in morning. From Gisborne to St Kilda so about 65km. I see other riders wearing fluro vests or pants sometimes on the road, do they make any difference to cars seeing you? Because I am on the road a lot and in peak hour was wondering about any ways to improve my safety especially as I am a n00b - plus I have a black bike and mostly black gear. So far I have only had a few times where cars have not seen me and tried to change lanes into me and so on but I know I am a lot harder to see than a car. I try to stay out of blind spots and I don't lane split (not confident with that yet though starting to filter) so I am sure that helps but sometimes cars even come up from behind me and go straight into my lane...

  2. High visible clothing makes no difference if they are not looking for you. People who merge into you are probably looking at the empty space through their mirrors for a quick opportunity to move one car length ahead rather than turning their head.

    Best to stay out of their blind spots and if you feel uncomfortable around a vehicle or have an inkling feeling they will do something stupid, stay back and sit behind them or quickly move forward. Also if you can move between wheel tracks, that helps get their attention some times.

    Also travelling into the sun doesn't help the cause either.
  3. Ok, yes I guess that is true. Until I got my bike I never really noticed that riders were wearing high viz stuff now I think about it.

    Yes I read somewhere that there are more accidents in the West due to the sun... though like most stats it could be bullocks.
  4. Do you ride with a headlight on? If they don't see that, then I fail to see how a yellow vest is going to help.

    I wouldn't bother with hi viz. Ride like you are invisible anyway and at least you have taken some control over your destiny. Relying on drivers to see you is just asking for trouble.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. I tried hi-viz as a noob at my wife's suggestion. It did seem that less drivers changed lanes to cut me off. Whether that's due to the hi-viz, or my roadcraft improving with experience, who knows, who cares - it kept the missus happy ;-)

    Anyway, for $8 you can get a vest with 3M tape from bunnings and wear over your gear. Then when you get over being a noob stow it with your first aid kit.
  6. Yep my headlight is always on. :) I wasn't planning on relying on them to see me but just to see if it would help in addition to riding like they can't see me.

    Tony, I have less times where cars don't see me now than when I did at the start as well! So maybe it is you getting better as well, or a combination.
  7. The science is that eyes see large shapes of solid colour better than broken up shapes with many colours. And shapes that contrast against the background are more visible.

    So in good light, a black rider on black bike is a solid black shape. You're probably more visible without hi-viz breaking up your shape. Similarly, people looking into the sun will see all black better because it contrasts against the bright background.

    If it's dark and raining, a black rider on a black bike has little contrast with the background so hi-vis may help by adding contrast.
  8. At night time, the extra reflectors on typical hi viz vests can help make a presence from the side, and from the rear if you don't have a rack back - but in the day light, it's questionable. Research in this area is flawed and it has the same flawed premise that drivers will see you if you're there to be seen. There are a handful of physiological reasons why this isn't true. Google or youtube the "Gorilla experiment" to open the learning account on this issue.

    To be frank, even though a merge SMIDSY is a failure of a driver to do a decent headcheck and so the blame lies with them, it is also a total failure of positioning by the rider. If traffic is heavy, you can't help but be in a blind spot at times, but get out of the blindspot ASAP. It's better to ride beside and level with the driver/passenger window than behind and in the blind spot. Better yet, be ahead or well behind.

    Anyway, why is there such appeal with Hi Viz? Is it because it works in warehouses? Is it because road workers wear it ubiquitously and they're safe? Don't count on it. Warehouses have shared space with traffic separation and training. Road workers have warning signs and heavy equipement and witches hats. It's an intuitive solution to an ill determined problem.

    The strategic goal here is to be seen, yes?

    Hi Viz is a tactic to try to achieve this goal, but it has the critical flaw that phongus pointed out - if you're not being looked for, it wont make much difference. Humans see what they expect to see. Drivers are human. They are looking out for big things that represent risks to them. Unless they're motorcycle aware, bikes will fall into their awareness blindspot. And then even when seen, other factors can come into play, like "time of arrival illusion".

    Other tactics to help you be seen include positioning, relative motion, defensive ride craft... are you using these also?

    Other more robust tactics relate to riding like you haven't been seen, or riding within the limited expectation of drivers, i.e., being predictable.

    Welcome to traffic riding.
    • Like Like x 3
  9. As others have said hi viz only works if the drivers actually look. Better to ride like they can't see you and don't ride in blind spots.

    Remember that if you can't see a drivers eyes they have no hope of seeing you.

    So if you are following a vehicle make sure you can see the drivers face in at least one mirror, and if you are following for long period, move in your lane from seeing them in their rear vision mirror to seeing them in their wing mirror. Avoid riding beside a vehicle, particularly heavy vehicles.

    Always have at least one planned escape route.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Yep, I am always trying to improve where I am positioned in a lane to compensate for this. If I am well ahead of a car in a two lane street (in this case Queens Road next to Albert Park) and a car drives up in the right lane besides me then drives at me into my lane, how can I avoid such a situation though? I knew he was behind me but he drove diagonally into me. I swerved to the left to avoid him, he saw me and moved back into his lane and kept waving in apology to me.

    Being in someone's blind spot and them merging into me, I can understand how I could have positioned myself better but things like that, I don't know how to avoid. Things like that I was wondering if I had been a bright colour then maybe he would have seen me but the comments about it more being about contrast makes sense.
  11. There are those who advocate ALWAYS staying in front of the traffic. I do tend to agree with them.

    Of coarse there are always going to the asshats who just don't seem to care and would merge into a truck let alone a motorcycle.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Sas, the situation you described shows a road user who either:
    1. Can't judge speeds of other road users, or
    2. Doesn't give a stuff what mayhem he/she may leave behind as long as they progress through the traffic.
    As for positioning, where abouts in your lane were you riding (left/right wheel track, far left/middle/far right)? If you were more left in your lane, he/she may have taken this as an invitation to momentarily share your lane. Own your lane, don't hug one side or the other, move around a bit in your lane.

    Regarding the Hi-Viz... I'll go out on a limb and suggest that this particular cager knew where you were so being decked out in gear that wouldn't be out of place at a Mardi Gras (or even a Tron suit) wouldn't make a lick of difference.
  13. FWIW I think the only high vis gear that has any effect on visibility at all are: reflective tape (at night); and bright, solid-colour helmets (just from personal observation mind you).
  14. If people can't see an Ambulance of a Fire Truck with lights and sirens in full swing they ain't gonna see your little Hi-Vis vest
  15. There's your answer. Movement.

    If you're riding ahead of someone in the next lane, the angle they see you at doesn't change and the eyes don't register movement. Move across their field of view and the eyes will register movement and the brain will (maybe) take a look to see what's moving.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. If Hi-Vis makes any difference it is negligible.
    The best defence on the bike is good quality road craft.
    Every time I get on the bike I remember my favourite two quotes; one from a riding instructor and the other from a bike cop.

    “Assume everyone on the road is a taxi driver.”
    “50% of drivers don’t see you; the other 50% are aiming for you.”
  17. I was to the right of the lane at that point doing the speed limit (60kph). There was only me, my boyfriend on his bike behind me and this taxi at the time as it was not busy. I do tend to move around in the lane these days depending on situation plus I read somewhere if someone is tailgating to weave a bit and I have found this makes them back off normally. Most of the time I do not have trouble with cars, but was just curious about the high viz stuff I saw now that I am commuting.

    I guess some people will just be dicks no matter what I do. Though mostly, just like in a car, I think I can avoid such situations.

    titus I have reflective bits on my gear + gear sack. My boyfriend has same brand gear sack as me and I notice it stands out a lot.

  18. Yea this dude was in a taxi!

    Tony ok thanks! I do that a bit but maybe I should move around more.
  19. you need a hunter destroyer machine...

    I have nothing else to add, as they guys above have already said it all :)
  20. Haha :) First reference to my avatar in a very long while (use it on most forums I am on)...