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The Quickfire guide to reflective cycle clothing
When you set out to ride a bicycle on the road either early in the morning or after dark, you must make certain that you are easily visible to other road users. Even if you don’t normally ride in the dark, you should always carry something reflective to wear in case you get held up and end up travelling later than planned – it is absolutely the most stupid thing you can do if you take a risk after dark. An accident is horrible for all concerned and you owe it to other road users to protect them from the trauma of hitting you, a guilt they would always carry, even if it was not their fault.
Many cycling clothes now come with reflective areas included in the design and these are a very good idea, but something you must be sure of is that the shapes add up to a recognizable ‘person’ image. If you can imagine for a moment what the motorist will see as they approach you this statement makes a lot of sense; do all of the shiny bits flicker randomly or do they represent the arms and legs of a cyclist? A motorist needs to be able to make a split second judgement and so anything that doesn’t help him do that is pointless. A nice brightly glowing Homer Simpson on your back may be a bit of a lark, but does it tell the motorist how far out your elbows are and whether you have panniers on your bike? If not, think again.
Reflective strips on your bike are also an excellent safety feature. They show as steady reflectors no matter how fast you may be pedalling and give the motorist a point of reference from further away. In the dark it is more difficult to judge distance, so the more warning oncoming or following traffic can have, the better. One thing to be aware of when cycling at night is that other road users will probably be more tired as they make their way home at the end of the day and reflexes will be just a touch slower. Don’t whisk in and out of traffic after dark, stay visible and don’t hug the sides of other vehicles. This is not really acceptable in daylight and is downright lethal when it is dark as well.