Author Topic: Lo-vis


« on: November 15, 2019 »
Remember my advice column on No? This was back when David Cameron hadn’t yet tricksied himself out of Number 10,

Charles Saatchi was showing the world how not to treat domestic goddesses no matter how much "arrowroot" they've got stashed in the kitchen,

and Extinction Rebellion was just a book about dinosaurs revolting over the new world order.

Lacking clients, it behooved me to cherry-pick from fora, my remuneration enhanced by the knowledge that if at least one person was helped, including an advertiser, it would balance out those bewildered readers who fled to the comforts of reviews and the latest roadie rage.

The magazine rack: not all tortured prose

It was a cozy niche, like all the others I’ve carved for myself over the years. Unfortunately it only lasted as long as it took for the editor to realise that "The audience isn't quite where we thought it was." (Oh no, I've revealed my source.)

I was reminded of the urgent need for advice by a recent discussion on a FB community group. Names have been changed.

Here's my card. It's printed with an apology for being a cyclist.

Deep Throat: May I introduce the new WEAK-KNEED WHEELERS, a small, friendly cycling club serving all surrounding areas.

Mary Lighthouse: Please wear high viz clothing so you can be seen, not dark clothing as you are putting your safety at risk.

Deep Throat: Good advice. Most riders wear something that is high viz - jerseys, gloves, helmets, socks, etc. We also run daytime lights and the ride leader and anchorman (at the back of the group) always wears a hi viz jacket and helmet. Rider safety is paramount to us. That’s why helmets are compulsory on our rides.

Mary Lighthouse: Not enough cyclists think of how vulnerable they are and should make themselves as visible as possible. Too many cycle with no lights, wear dark clothing, probably because they think they look cool, don't want to wear helmets and don't know how to ride safely on the open roads. I'm a keen cyclists and drive 55,000 miles per year. Some of the things I see and have seen would apal most people.

I don't normally rabbit on about cyclists in this group, but as we don't get mentioned that often, this seemed like a good place to add my two bitcoin, after giving the club a friendly reception.

blah blah blah
Lights? Definitely, when necessary. Hi-viz? Up to the individual. No thanks. I’ve been riding around here for quite a while without it. It’s the responsibility of motorists to be paying attention.

I drive too. Not quite 55k miles a year, but enough to know the main problem is people not giving cyclists enough room, which has little to do with what the cyclist is wearing (though see this study) and everything to do with impatience and lack of knowledge about how much space we are allowed. If you read the Highway Code – rule #163 – you'll note it's the same as a car. You should be on the other side of the road when passing. I realise that's not always practical, but people need to do their best.

If anything’s appalling, it’s how close cars and lorries sometimes pass, apparently without a thought to what should happen if either road user wobbles.

Helmets? Definitely up to the rider. If you're hit by a car, it's unlikely to help much; in any case they're not rated over about 12mph.

The frequent implication is that the cyclist is the problem. Sometimes, yes, but mostly not.

Safety is largely a matter of having respect for other road users and pedestrians, and not being inattentive behind the wheel. All the hi-viz & helmets (first rule of cycling: don’t fall off) in the world won’t help if the motorist isn't paying enough attention in the first place.


This got not a single response – on a medium which thrives on reactions. Either I struck everyone dumb with unassailable logic, or my point of view was so off-kilter that I became, effectively, invisible.

SMIDSY: for some of us it's a way of life.