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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