Folding Bikes Blog

Bike Commuters – neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night

Riding with bright colors

Photo credit: richardmasoner

With the shortest day of the year upon us, you may notice a growing number of cyclists in highlighter yellow outerwear. As a bike commuter, I am a big fan of such apparel. I don’t own any yet, but I feel that my first purchase is not far off. I’ve been bike commuting for years, and ride with blinking lights at night, but recently, I’ve had more close encounters with automobiles than I would like, so I’m looking to up my visibility any way I can.

This past weekend, I was walking with a friend. It was about noon, and we were passed by a cyclist wearing a fluorescent yellow windbreaker.

“I always wonder why so many cyclists like that color – it’s looks ridiculous,” my friend said. Now this friend is no stranger to bicycles. He doesn’t commute by bike, but he races. He trains seriously – if you counted hours and miles on the bike, he rides more than I do – but not after dark, and not in traffic.

“Well,” I started to explain. “It’s probably not so much that they like it; they wear it because it makes them more visible at night.”

“Maybe,” he said. “But they look so silly riding around like that in the middle of the day.”

Maybe. But considering what I have seen my friend ride in (think full-on spandex and what I like to call the “rocketman” helmet), I don’t think he has any right to pass judgment about what other people wear on their bicycles. (I don’t mean to question the necessity or utility of spandex. It just seems to me that anyone who breaches the accepted norms of fashion to that extent shouldn’t be baffled by the comparably smaller transgression of a glow-in-the dark jacket).

“You know what they should do?” he mused. “They should make reversible jackets. Bright yellow on one side, but a normal colour on the other side. Then you wouldn’t have to wear the yellow side during the day, and you wouldn’t need a second jacket.

“Actually,” he paused for a moment. “That’s a great idea!”

“Mmhmm.”

“No really – just think about it for a minute: a reversible bike commuting jacket.”

“Yeah…but the way some people drive, the extra visibility might not hurt in the daytime either.”

So what do you all think about the reversible jacket? Anybody have one? Or know of something out there? Is it safer to wear the yellow at all times while on the road? Would love to hear what you think!

Ride Safe!

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11 Comments

  1. Troy Mitchell
    Posted December 21, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    If someone has seen how goofy I look in my bright yellow jacket with 3M reflective strips then that means they have seen me. Anything else seems to blend into the surrounding distractions of signs/buildings/poles/etc. Better to be seen than to be hit!

  2. paul
    Posted December 21, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Picked up a reversible jacket in Japan . Its bright yellow one side and dark green the other.Folds into a small package, breathes well when on and looks good when reversed.Priced at Yen 8500 at time of purchase from a sports store (it was for joggers).

  3. Posted December 22, 2010 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    @Troy – Great point – at least they see you!

    @paul – thanks for sharing your find!

  4. Chris
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Actually, the day-glo yellow is for daytime visibility — reflective (not flourescent) is for night. The ‘highlighter yellow’ isn’t really any more visible than most other colors after dark, as the brightness relies on UV light (so I’ve been lead to believe) which comes from the sun. After dark, these day-glo jackets generally also feature reflective elements for nighttime visibility, but it is the reflective and not the ‘day glo’ or ‘hi-vis’ aspect that is helpful.

  5. paul wilson
    Posted January 5, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Gore bike wear make a reversable jacket

  6. Jack Fisher
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    As one advertisement said, “bright and repels motorists”. Anything that increases my chances of being seen and reduces my chances of being hit is a bonus.

  7. Jay Robbins
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Fluorescents seem to be the style right now at ski areas, especially in the terrain parks. It’d sure be nice if this carried over to roadies and commuters… for safety sake! Unfortunately it seems like more the opposite is true with Rapha style growing and growing.

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