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  1. #1
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    why reflective clothes?

    I have been commuting for several years now and usually in the dark at the morning commute. It is common to see posts regarding reflective gear, clothes. I bike with front and rear flashers - 2 on back of good qualithy ie superflash and a nite rider headlight on front with a cateye white blinker. With all that what is the rationale for reflective gear?

    I have no problem getting the gear but just haven't 'seen' what its all about. I just want to keep the commute simple as possible, if thats possible anyhow.

  2. #2
    I Ride for Donuts
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    I think it depends on where you are. If I was in the city I'd be doing a lot more to make myself visible. I'm doing about what you do...I have a rear blinky, a headlight, and now I have the 'lightweights' on my wheels...I put the extra reflective stickers that come with the lightweights on the heels of my shoes, so I have some reflectors with motion for cars coming up from behind.

    I've been riding in the dark for 4 years, and I've never had an issue...for a long time I was using just the one rear blinky light. I have a very rural ride though, and don't have to worry about cross traffic, cars turning into other streets, etc.

    In my opinion a full on reflective suit is probably overkill, but when it comes down to it, the cars that see you coming probably won't hit you. I'd look at your own commute and dress accordingly. The 10 cars that drive by me in the morning give me plenty of room with just a couple reflective stickers and a blinky taillight. If they were obviously not seeing me, I'd add some more 'bling'.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  3. #3
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    Go bright or go home

    Hey,

    I've been night commuting for about ten years now and love it when someone comes up next to me and says they saw me six blocks away. I love it when people sarcastically say 'hey, i can't see you' when Iím lit up like a torch. My ride is about twelve miles on moderate to heavy traffic urban streets in LA. When it comes to lights and reflective gear, I donít think you can have enough. Some people like to keep that fixie/bike culture cool thing going, but Iíd rather go high vis even if it caries a certain amount of dork stigma.

    Itís important to get lights and reflectors up as high as possible, ie on your helmet so people can see you over cars.

    Hereís what I do:
    Lights on the bike:
    NR Dig Pro 12 in flash mode on the front
    NR super bright LED rear in flash mode on seat stem

    Lights on the helmet:
    1W LED backpacking style headlamp in flash mode facing forward
    Bike Planet Superflash rear on back of helmet

    Reflectors:
    Reflective Ďtriangleí on my backpack.
    A Caltrans style reflective vest on my person
    Reflective ankle bands
    3Ē round DOT reflector on rear of seatpost
    Q11 DOT reflective stickers (like the stickers you see on trucks and trains) pasted to my bike and helmet.
    DOT stickers on the spokes of both wheels.

    I may look like a dork, but I look like a dork from a mile away!

    -g

  4. #4
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    Every little bit helps. I have the reflective straps on my chrome bag, front and rear blinky. It's enough. On my winter commuter I'm going to put reflective tape down the fenders. it also have reflective sidewalls (that helps A LOT) so I don't get t-boned. Most people aren't used to bicycles riding in a Wisconsin winter and aren't looking for them.

  5. #5
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    I've got a headlight and a knog frog rear blinker. My pack has reflective tape sewn all over it courtesy of the Mrs's.... I'm pretty sure my pack can be seen from space.

  6. #6
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    reflector bike

    Here's a flash pic of the bike reflectors. . .



    bar ends, tubes, shock, stays, crank arms, pedals. . .

    -g

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dancrna
    I have been commuting for several years now and usually in the dark at the morning commute. It is common to see posts regarding reflective gear, clothes. I bike with front and rear flashers - 2 on back of good qualithy ie superflash and a nite rider headlight on front with a cateye white blinker. With all that what is the rationale for reflective gear?

    I have no problem getting the gear but just haven't 'seen' what its all about. I just want to keep the commute simple as possible, if thats possible anyhow.
    Lights are the place to start, but if you can give the motorist the "Aha!" moment where they realize what your lights are (oh, it's a bicyclist!), then that should help your safety. For example, if I see a single white light in a typical suburban/city environment, I might not conciously register it as a cyclist. But if I also see a pair of reflective legbands or pedal reflectors going up-down-up-down alternately, it's immediately obvious that it's a cyclist. If I see reflective sidewalls on tires, that's another easy cue that I'm looking at a bicyclist. If I at least see SOMETHING besides just an abstract light floating down the road, that's still worth something. Maybe it looks like a nuclear accident in my case, but I can live with that

    Summary: Remember when you were a kid, and you did "connect-the-dots?" Help the motorists "connect the dots."


    [SIZE="1"]naturally I *do* use headlights, they're just turned off here[/SIZE]

    Reflective stuff has its limits but don't write it off as useless just because you have lights.

  8. #8
    Mark
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    I hit a bridge abutment in the dark riding across some drawbridges North of Everett, WA.

    No dark riding for me...
    ===============

    Mark

  9. #9
    weirdo
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    I agree with CommuterBoy- it depends on where you are. If you`re already comfortable with what you`ve been using for several years, you`re probably all right. I know I could do a lot more if I perceived my route to be more dangerous. On the other hand, a reflector vest is cheap, easy, super visible, easily packed... about the only downside is that we look like total nerds. Good point about getting lights or reflectors up high enough to be visible over the tops of cars- I never thought about that before.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechBgon
    Lights are the place to start, but if you can give the motorist the "Aha!" moment where they realize what your lights are (oh, it's a bicyclist!), then that should help your safety.
    Exactly right. A friend of mine drives the highway I cycle on and he gives me feedback on my visibility. He says my lights are bright (blinky and superflash rear) but they get swamped by all the other car tail lights and reflectors on the side of the road. He says I'm just not that noticeable.

    A few weeks ago, my wife and I were driving at night and saw a guy on a bike in a serious set of reflective gear. Now maybe it jumped out at me because I'm a cyclist but it definitely made him more noticeable.

  11. #11
    I'm "bad" different
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    why? so when the cop shows up to scrape my corpse off the pavement he can say "what do you mean you didn't see him?!"

    seriously though, it ticks me off when cyclists and pedestrians don't do their part to help me see them when I'm driving. Yah, I really want a vehicular manslaughter on my record and the guilt of killing someone. It happens all the time down here:

    http://www.azfamily.com/news/homepag...12f1faaf0.html

  12. #12
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    There are about ten people where I work who commute and it's amazing how a few think wearing all black is the solution. They say 'if they can't see you they can't focus on you and hit you.' I call it the bus-boy method.

    I prefer the obmoxious drunk method: Loud and weaving. By loud I mean loud colors like dayglo and reflectors, and by weaving I mean weaving, literally. I've found that by weaving like i'm RUI I get about three or four times more room. At the last second I'll dash over by the curb as a car passes, usually in the next lane over. I guess God and motorists give mercy to idiots, and perceived idiots!

    -g

  13. #13
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    There are about ten people where I work who commute and it's amazing how a few think wearing all black is the solution. They say 'if they can't see you they can't focus on you and hit you.' I call it the bus-boy method.

    I prefer the obnoxious drunk method: Loud and weaving. By loud I mean loud colors like dayglo and reflectors, and by weaving I mean weaving, literally. I've found that by weaving like i'm RUI I get about three or four times more room. At the last second I'll dash over by the curb as a car passes, usually in the next lane over. I guess God and motorists give mercy to idiots, and perceived idiots!

    -g

  14. #14
    occupation : Foole
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailgoon
    [ Some people like to keep that fixie/bike culture cool thing going, but I’d rather go high vis even if it caries a certain amount of dork stigma.


    I may look like a dork, but I look like a dork from a mile away!
    Amen to that advice ..... when it comes to physical safety (especially involving possible serious injury/death), being "cool" don't cut it And, your "mile away" statement is usually what people say to me ... " I could see you from a mile away !!!" .... I've got reflective tape on the helmet, backpack, rear led blinker, headlight, reflective straps around the ankles .... I feel fairly safe, even if am percieved by some as a dork (which, in fact, I am .... a somewhat lovable dork )

  15. #15
    in da house CREW
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    [ Some people like to keep that fixie/bike culture cool thing going, but I’d rather go high vis even if it caries a certain amount of dork stigma.


    I may look like a dork, but I look like a dork from a mile away!



    +3

    to the OP, have you ever had a close call when commuting at night? every little bit helps.

  16. #16
    LCI #1853
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    Quote Originally Posted by dancrna
    I have been commuting for several years now and usually in the dark at the morning commute. It is common to see posts regarding reflective gear, clothes. I bike with front and rear flashers - 2 on back of good qualithy ie superflash and a nite rider headlight on front with a cateye white blinker. With all that what is the rationale for reflective gear?

    I have no problem getting the gear but just haven't 'seen' what its all about. I just want to keep the commute simple as possible, if thats possible anyhow.
    Simply said, it's all about being visible to other roadway users who might, but probably aren't looking out too much for vehicles smaller than they are.

    And if you're out riding at night, morning or evening twilight, lights and reflectors are the law in every state -- white headlight on the front, red tail light and/or red reflector on the back, both visible from at least 500 feet away. Some states even require reflectors on the pedals as well.

    The more you do to increase your conspicuity on the road, the better your survival rate. Remember the video with the basketball players and the moonwalking bear? The bear often goes unnoticed because people aren't paying attention to him. So don't be the bear.

  17. #17
    Crunchatize me Capn'
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tweezak
    Exactly right. A friend of mine drives the highway I cycle on and he gives me feedback on my visibility. He says my lights are bright (blinky and superflash rear) but they get swamped by all the other car tail lights and reflectors on the side of the road. He says I'm just not that noticeable.

    A few weeks ago, my wife and I were driving at night and saw a guy on a bike in a serious set of reflective gear. Now maybe it jumped out at me because I'm a cyclist but it definitely made him more noticeable.
    Exactly. It's a common misconception that light means "hey, you can obviously see me." You have to differentiate yourself from other traffic on the road. You have to queue in on HOW people recognize objects. This means catering to those who are instinctual as well as those who are more analytical. Some just "get" that what they are seeing is a cyclist while others need to "realize" that what they are seeing is, in fact, not a car and therefore not going so fast and therefore might be tractor or a slow driver or a, ahhhhh, a cyclist. Yes, a cyclist, that's it, that's what I'm seeing. So, helping drivers recognize the shape and stature of a human being mean making sure they don't focus only on the light but on all that you have going on - bright colors, reflection high, low, and moving (think leg bands), lights on top and lower. Basically, "That is not a car, a truck, a broken down vehicle, an accident (to gravitate towards) but oh, that's a CYCLIST and I recognize that immediately."

    Make sense?

  18. #18
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    I think reflective vests/pants are a super idea, because the reflection is human shaped...instant recognition! Sometimes I get confused by just a lone white lite fore/red lite aft, because there's no figure/context to it...and I'm a cyclist that looks out for these things....how much more Joe Average IQ, who's driving distracted? The most visible commuter I ever saw wasn't a commuter at all. It was just a guy wearing a super reflective vest, standing in somebody's front yard. I could tell what he was, half mile off.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechBgon
    Lights are the place to start, but if you can give the motorist the "Aha!" moment where they realize what your lights are (oh, it's a bicyclist!), then that should help your safety. For example, if I see a single white light in a typical suburban/city environment, I might not conciously register it as a cyclist. But if I also see a pair of reflective legbands or pedal reflectors going up-down-up-down alternately, it's immediately obvious that it's a cyclist. If I see reflective sidewalls on tires, that's another easy cue that I'm looking at a bicyclist. If I at least see SOMETHING besides just an abstract light floating down the road, that's still worth something. Maybe it looks like a nuclear accident in my case, but I can live with that

    Summary: Remember when you were a kid, and you did "connect-the-dots?" Help the motorists "connect the dots."


    [SIZE="1"]naturally I *do* use headlights, they're just turned off here[/SIZE]

    Reflective stuff has its limits but don't write it off as useless just because you have lights.
    You look like you are from Tron!

  20. #20
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    trailgoon
    There are about ten people where I work who commute and it's amazing how a few think wearing all black is the solution. They say 'if they can't see you they can't focus on you and hit you.' I call it the bus-boy method.


    Sounds more like Darwin to me!

    When a driver see's a car's tail light 50 feet away it apears X big.
    When a driver see's a bicycle's tail light 50 feet away it apears about 1/4 as big so
    the driver thinks you are farther away. Splat. The more reflective/lit up you are the safer you are.

  21. #21
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    ... and if we just ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Cdaleblue
    You look like you are from Tron!
    See, I didn't even have to come up with a Halloween costume this year!

  22. #22
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    look up a company called Bike Rags.
    reflective t-shirts, so you don't have look like a construction worker ( no offense to construction workers)

  23. #23
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    Sometimes, no amount of measures to increase visibility can keep you from getting hit. I was riding home from work one night and this guy cut right in front of me from the road to my right while I had the green light and my headlamp (Lupine Tesla) was shining on his face! That said, I'm all for making myself as visible as possible without being uncomfortable.

    Just remember to always prepare for the worst. There are idiots out there who will say, "I thought I hit a deer" after they plow through you. That actually happened to me (in broad daylight).
    -Greg
    Lynskey Ridgeline 29-SL, Truvativ Hammerschmidt, Cannondale Lefty 29er SL w/ DLR (Project321 adaptor). 26 lbs.

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