I am a big believer in ‘hi-viz’ clothing. If it gets you noticed when you are out on your bike I think it is worth its weight in gold.
I even went as far as ‘borrowing’ a hi-viz bag cover for my rucksack from Chef. Couple this with wearing a bright white helmet and riding a bright white bike, I was pretty happy clocking up the miles safe in the knowledge that everyone and their dog will see me.
The net result is that I look like this most days:
Then it happened, my first ‘crash’. Picture it; 8am on a Friday morning travelling in lane one of a dual carriageway at around 60-65mph. In lane two is a family saloon car and we’re travelling side by side. When all of sudden car driver decides she wants to come off at the next exit slip; swerves from lane two, collides with my right leg and forces me off the dual carriageway with her.
Now I would like to put something here about how I used my excellent motorcycling skills set to ensure I kept my bike upright whilst gradually slowing down and warning the driver of my presence. That did not happen. Instead sheer panic immediately set in and I just pulled a stupid face and repeatedly hit the engine start button thinking it was the horn.
On a serious note I was lucky to stay upright and not be rolling down the road on my head at 60mph. You will be glad to hear I did manage to get the lady driver’s attention and inform her of my displeasure at the whole event.
After this experience I am a little less confident in the value of hi-viz. I will not stop wearing it but I am searching for the next big thing to add to my arsenal. Andrew Dalton has some Gucci auxiliary lights on Dora (his Triumph Explorer). I am more used to seeing these on the big BMW bikes and they always draw the eye.
As an experienced rider, Andrew is of the opinion that wearing hi-viz doesn’t necessarily increase other road users perception that you are there and in some cases may do more to create a potential hazard up ahead – motorists may think you’re a pretend policeman, and their driving style suddenly becomes less normal and predictable as they try to “drive by the book”.
Other EU countries, such as France, have even gone so far as to make it compulsory for motorcyclists to wear hi-viz, punishable by a fine if found not wearing the requirement in day-glo motorcycle clothing.
So, what are your thoughts on hi-viz? Do you swear by it or think it is a waste of time? What accessories could I get to improve my visibility to other road users? Share your stories and tips on how you stay visible in the comments below.