Does hi-viz really work?

betty swollocks

large member
Ok, it may enable others (motorists) to see you on your bike from afar, when you're a speck in the distance, but, does it work when it really matters, when if they don't, a collision will ensue?
My contention is that in these circumstances, hi-viz does not work and that you will be seen or not seen regardless. it depends solely on whether they are looking out for you or not.
I recall a few years back watching an experiment on the telly. A group of people (a) were shown a film of another group of people (:ohmy: throwing a ball to each other. The group (a) were asked to count how many times the ball was caught. At the end of the film, group (a) were asked to state how many times the ball was caught: most of them got it right, as you'd expect.
Group (a) were then asked if there was anything else they noticed: only one or two of them put their hands up. Group (a) were then shown the same film, but this time were asked not to count the number of times the ball was caught. They all noticed that a man in a Gorilla suit had walked through group (:biggrin: when they were throwing the ball around: something most of them had not seen first time round.
I found this pretty frightening. It illustrated to me that we humans only see what we are looking out for. Of course, we are all different and therefore this will apply slightly differently with all of us, but we all have this filtering mechanism to a greater or lesser extent.


Über Member
Apart from not working it also seems to make the wearer feel that he/she will 'definitely be seen' and therefore take more risks while on the roads. You're better off without it.


New Member
Huffing a kitten
I bought one of those POLITE vests - when I go out riding, i "accidentally" *cough* shove it in my pocket so that only "POL" can be seen sticking out...its amazing how much room people give me!

Twenty Inch

New Member
Behind a desk
pzycoman said:
I bought one of those POLITE vests - when I go out riding, i "accidentally" *cough* shove it in my pocket so that only "POL" can be seen sticking out...its amazing how much room people give me!

You could do a controlled experiment - one day with your vest sticking out of your pocket, the next day with that ruddy great replica gun slung over your shoulder. Let us know the results.:ohmy:


New Member
I think it high visibility clothing is worth it. When I'm driving my car I notice reflective clothing on cyclists. Pedestrians and cyclists in dark clothing can be almost invisible, even under normal orange style road lights. Even a tiny relective patch on their trainers makes them much more vivible.


Just call me Chris...
It catches your eye as the light fades, definately.

Also, I dunno about you people, but I'm pretty aware of hi-viz on the road as it could mean police or roadworks. Or, of course, a cyclist :ohmy:

I'd like to think it helps but don't have the experience to comment directly.


New Member
It works because when I wear it cars pass wider than when I dont.
I contest that high-viz does work.

By work, I mean make the wearer more visible to an eye scanning the environment. That is the primary function of high-viz, it is not an absolute "be seen" measure, but does increase the chances of the wearer being picked out of background clutter.

As a cyclist and motorcyclist I am most concerned about being seen at junctions, as accident figures show that these are the most dangerous environment for a vulnerable road user. Thus I feel a high-viz vest is a valuable accessory, which seems to help me be picked out of the clutter better.

Through my personal experience drivers tend to notice me earlier if I am wearing a HV vest than if I am not. Interestingly though, riding with my headlight on my motorbike (and to some extent in low light conditions when I have my cycle lights on) drivers are much worse at estimating my speed.

As a cyclist I wear a helmet and HV for very similar reasons - because I do not feel encumbered in any way by wearing them, and I feel that their use is benificial in terms of safety and that also it reflects well on me as a cyclist. In a society that is ruled by appearences, if I look like I am a dedicated, serious cyclist, who has taken available safety measures on board, I stand a much better chance in court should I ever get in some kind of trouble.

I don't want to give insurers or a court of non-(motor)cyclists an excuse to reduce their culpability.

Sad? Yes. I should not need to wear HV to make other people think I am operating my vehicle proficiently, but I chose to as it does not bother me to wear it. (Nod of thanks to my local sports shop for pointing me to the v v lightweight HV runners bib)

Luckily though, cycling is all about freedom, and as cyclists we are able to extend that freedom to our clothing, speed and safety gear. The key is that we are free to chose, and make those choices based on whatever info we want to listen to or ignoor.

Cycling rules. Enjoy it by doing whatever makes you feel best.
How can it work or not work! It's there to increase your chance of being seen. if someone doesn't see you then it doesn't matter what you're wearing, in fact it doesn't matter if you are on a bike in a car or in tank, the only difference is the level of injury you'll suffer if they hit you (tanks are better for this).

I've nearly been hit by people who didn't see me, on a bike, on a motorbike, in a car and in a bloody big van. Marginally the incidents on a bike are greater in number but in terms of sheer terror the incidents on a motorbike were worst.

Conversely, I've pulled out on a car and a motorbike and two cyclists and that despite the fact I look out for them (not all at once, that would've been a bad day).

I'd rather wear something that may make me more visible than not. My weapon of choice is a Sam Browne belt as it's almost instantly recognizable as someone being on a two wheel vehicle as opposed to sweeping the road or similiar.

Still if others want to rationalize it out as making no difference who am I to question it. Perhaps you'd like to dress like a Ninja and remove your lights too.


Im of the hi viz works brigade.Its obvious really isnt it? Something that shines or glows is easily visible,compared to normal or dark clothing,that doesnt.All the comments iv read about getting a false sense of security with them, is i think bollox.We are still as vulnerable,and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to wake up,before they are hit by a vehicle.


More serious cyclist than Bonj
I wear a hi-vis for a few reasons.
One is so i dont look like a chav on a bike with my bike coat on. If i look like a chav, i'm not gonna get any respect.
And the second one is if someone knocks me off my bike, then i ask how they couldnt see me.
And when we were coming down a dark road in a car, a guy had a hi-vis on, but with no lights, and you could see the hi-vis light up.
But it only really works if the hi-vis is kept clean.
It needs to be the right sort of Hi Viz

Day-Glo is (not surprisingly from the name) intended to be visible in daylight not at night, so some vests might get you seen during the day but you'll also need reflective panels at night.

But why some bike or running clothing manufacturers insist on making black or dark grey/blue/etc clothing, with pathetic little token patches of reflective on them astounds me.
- except of course because there's a market for it : why do we buy the stuff ?!?!


nothing in moderation
i prefer lights (2 solid, 1 flashing at the front, one solid three flashing at the back) and reflective bits and pieces to hi-viz, which doesn't mark you out from dustmen, road sweepers or even kids walking to school.

horses for courses i suppose, at least no-one wears hi-viz out of vanity :ohmy:
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