Review: "Polite Notice Think Bike" Hi-Vis Vest

First: let me be clear. I am not a passionate cyclist. I'm a commuter that cycles to work. 6 miles a day. Through dense unrelenting traffic. In all weather. I don’t even catch a bus when it’s sleeting. I see my commute as survival training. OK, it may not be London but Oxford notches up a depressing number of cycling-related injuries & deaths per year.

So, when Wheelsuckers asked me to road test a new high visibility vest from High Visibility, I was delighted. Even with a 'standard' hi-vis jacket, my near misses with cars, vans and buses occur on a weekly basis (why do cars drive in cycle lanes? Why are the wing mirrors of white vans designed to hit my head? Why do drivers ignore me when I'm indicating to turn right? Why do some bus drivers relish to idea of squashing me like a tomato?).

This Hi-Vis vest is a bit different to the vanilla types: it reads POLITE Notice THINK BIKE on the back plus it has a reflective chequered band across the shoulders; on first glance drivers may be led to believe the rider looks a little on the "official" side...

A nice feature of the vest is that it has adjustable side-straps to keep it snug and stop it flapping around in the wind - it also adjusted down nicely to fit my 9 year-old.

After an inauspicious start (a colleague asked why I was wearing a police jacket on its first outing) the vest has certainly grown in popularity. I've been stopped/shouted at by numerous cyclists asking where to get one from. I was even stopped by an enthusiastic pedestrian keen to make a purchase. The real proof though is whether drivers are more aware of me on the road. I think that they are.

I have now worn the vest four weeks and I've had just one near miss (a white van forcing me off the road. Bless him. Yes, it’s almost always a him) so a noticeable reduction then. Also, I feel as if drivers are giving me a wider berth when overtaking.

I also had to remonstrate with a car driver reversing along a cycle lane towards me while on the phone! He took one look at me (and I suspect my familiar-looking jacket) and apologised very sheepishly...

My only reservation is that the effectiveness of this vest would probably be reduced if it became too popular and so lose its impact.

As for the vest I got to review? No, I'm not giving it back.

This High-Vis POLITE Notice THINK BIKE jacket is available to buy online from Amazon priced at about £30.

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Comment by ray withington on November 13, 2014 at 12:54

I'd try it for my commute, my caveat is the woeful area i travel through to keep the commute to a reasonable length..they don't like the law much round that way ! Though the extra incentive to keep a healthy pace wouldn't hurt my cardio ..

Comment by Andy Dawson on November 7, 2014 at 17:29

In a recent BBC online article Would these five changes actually help cyclists? research by Dr Ian Garrard of Brunel University cast doubts as to the effectiveness of high-vis vests. However, his report went on to say (my emphasis):

"Clothing made almost no statistically significant difference - 1-2% of drivers always drove dangerously close. Only two outfits altered driver behaviour - one which said "police", and another with "polite". The latter is an intentional imitation popular with cyclists and horse riders."

Comment by Andy Dawson on July 8, 2013 at 11:36

That's an interesting point Pat and not one I've thought about before. I'd be interested to know if anybody else has experienced this.

I have a potential guinea pig in mind that has Team Sky replica kit, maybe I'll get him to ride in that, the Polite Notice hi-vis and any old cycling kit down a busy stretch of road and see if there's any difference in how car drivers behave for each of the 3 "looks"

One other reason why you get a wider berth might be to do with the Union Jack - some sort of subliminal patriotism. As you say, weird but plausible!

Comment by Pat Noone on July 7, 2013 at 11:54

On a similar note I bought some of the old design Great Britain squad kit dirt cheap while at the velodrome (the sky one not the awful Stella McCartney one), presumably getting rid to make way for the new kit weird as it sounds when wearing the GB squad gillet, I get a wider berth than normal, the only reason I can think of is they think I'm actually in the squad and don't want to be pillard like the woman who knocked wiggo off, when not wearing it I get the usual minimum 3 near misses per ride, when wearing it very seldom do I get a near miss, anyone else got similar experience?

Comment by Terry Holmes on January 4, 2013 at 13:36

Been thinking about getting one for a while now. I was reluctant because I feared that, once drivers notice the 'similarity' to a Police jacket, it might provoke even more abuse. As I wear a white Helmet, the 'look' would be pretty convincing at a distance. I guess the proof is in the wearing. Here goes.

Comment by Jim Gabriel on January 3, 2013 at 17:51

Great write-up Fiona!

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