April 23rd, 2017
by Michael Ryan
If you walk into any bike shop, you will see that the shelves are stacked with a wide range of reflective products. These include jackets, ankle bands, sticker packs and waist coats. During the autumn and winter season, there is a fair chance that most cyclists will spend most of their riding time in the dark or low light. This is why using some reflective gear or safety products with significant amount of reflective detailing works best for keeping all athletes safe.
Why Doesn't Fluorescent Work?
Whether you are heading out for a pre-dawn ride or commuting to and from work in wintery mornings, wearing safety clothing is crucial. Facts and figures suggest that riding at night has resulted in numerous accidents and injuries.
Some 35% of all deadly cycling crashes happen at night, regardless of the fact just around 10% of cyclists ride in the dark. Although fluorescent clothing has been considered safer for increasing rider visibility during the day, it is of little use at night.
Fluorescent clothing works by taking UV (ultraviolet) light from the sun and converting it into light which is visible to the human eye. Since there’s no UV sunlight to convert in the dark, the fluorescent material fails to be as effective as it is in daytime. Therefore, in order for cyclists to be visible in the dark, reflective gear and not fluorescent clothing is needed.
Reflective clothing does not necessarily have to be in fluorescent high visibility colors. For instance, a black jacket of the right material is just as visible as a fluorescent yellow one. Studies reveal that as compared to fluorescent products, reflective gear is more visible during nighttime in car headlights.
But are athletes, runners and cyclers completely safe by wearing reflective clothing or products? Several studies have looked into the effectiveness of these safety products. A 2009 research discovered that fluorescent vests did not serve as a safety improvement measure on black clothing at night. The results revealed that ankle stripes and reflective kneepads were far more effective.
The Benefits of Reflective Gear
Motorists are easily able to see cyclists pedaling away rather than a reflective stripe on the back of their clothing, as it appears stationary. This implies that it’s not enough to use the right kind of product. Positioning it correctly is just as important.
Recent studies have recommended that using reflective and not high-visibility clothing is the key to being safe during darkness. The leading brands focus more on visibility when it comes to designing safety gear for runners and cyclists. Large cycling apparel companies have added reflective details in the seams or zip lining for the modern cyclist to not feel conscious.
Thanks to the present line of reflecting clothing for cyclists, athletes no longer have to don bright yellow jackets with huge reflective stripes to be visible during darkness. Traditionally, reflective clothing has lacked the aesthetic appeal to attract the modern athlete. This is why manufacturers have invested considerable time and effort to come up with more stylish kit options. All such safety gear is ideal for the casual or professional cyclists. Today, athletes can easily find reflective gear for their running or cycling adventures at a price they can afford and with the perfect aesthetic appeal.
As cars have less time to spot cyclists because of their speed, cyclists should make all attempts to avoid fast roads. No rider wants to be less safe on the road. However, there has been a never-ending struggle between choosing clothing and accessories that make you look great but not safe and the right kind of safety apparel that does not look great. But now with the present developments in the industry, it seems that riders can finally have the best of both worlds.
Proviz, Sugoi, Hey Reflect’o and Specialized are reputed brands to have manufactured reflective jackets which cyclists can wear to stand out impressively. These clothing are lit up by artificial light sources and car headlights. Moreover, there are other products that enhance the power of bio-motion to further guarantee rider visibility.
Giro has also developed remarkably reflective cycling apparel while Castelli is also known for coming up with innovatively designed reflective safety equipment.
Pactimo and Proviz have advertised winter tights with large reflective panels below the knee. This is why we see a large number of road cycling brands moving into the reflective clothing space. Since most of the big brands have now promoted reflective pieces for the fashion-conscious cyclist, wearing safer clothing and accessories has become more ‘acceptable’ than ever.
To be visible and safe on the roads when cycling:
• Cyclists should ride in a visible position at all times to be clearly visible
• Cyclists should wear brightly colored clothing to catch the eye of drivers
• Cyclists should wear reflective gear to increase the visibility in low-light conditions
Keywords: Reflective Gear for Running and Cycling