What to wear has become as emotive as the helmet debate. Black or dark colours are all the rage with the major clothing manufacturers, and it has got a lot of you pretty hot under the collar.

The Day-Glo lobby reckon that black is bad, it’s just not visible enough and those who wear it are asking for trouble. They’ve got a point but their argument is overly simplistic and potentially worrying.

If there was a failsafe dress code that would make bike riding completely safe we would all sign up for it in an instant, but it just doesn’t work like that. I’ve dressed like the equivalent of a human lemon and still had a “sorry I didn’t see you” at virtually every junction from idiot drivers.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to matter what you wear, some drivers just don’t interact very well with bike riders and these people shouldn’t be allowed to cite our dress code as another get-out for their poor conduct.

Dr Hutch mentioned the trend towards blaming victims in last week’s magazine and that dreaded term ‘contributory negligence’ shouldn’t be allowed to rear its ugly head again. It’s already an issue with helmet use and the last thing we need is for this nonsense to extend to our clothing choices.

Nobody will ever criticise a motorist over the colour of their vehicle and when I had a black car I didn’t pay an extra insurance premium because it was deemed to be more dangerous.

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly

  • mattew

    cycling jersey for some folks is a sort of

    leisure except for others it is a heavy sport. Except for a great diet, good footwear and a

    good physical fitness condition, cycling jerseys are crucial for the cycling short enthusiast. These are an

    essential part of the clothing for biking enthusiasts because they can help them reach

    maximum speed while helping them ride comfortably. Before selecting your cycling shirt it

    is critical to understand its specific functions.

    This kind of shirt is longer on the back to take into account the bent-over position that

    is sometimes used by people who are engaged in major cycling. If pockets are required, they

    are positioned at the back because putting them in the front makes it simpler for the

    pocket contents to be spilled. This type of jersey is also engineered to fit the body’s

    lines to attenuate air resistance. The material for the jersey is also chosen for its

    capacity to wick moisture from the skin to provide a more comfortable and cooler feeling.

    Another crucial application is for putting the logos of the sponsors of the pro cycling

    team.

    These cycling gloves are extensively

    utilized for comfort and protection. The recurring pressure that’s exerted on the palms

    when cycling for hours can cause blisters or calluses if cycling gloves are not worn. And

    in relation to this, the gloves can have padding made from clothing or gel on the palms.

    The padding is used to minimize the shock that comes from irregularities on the road or

    terrain. It is these shocks that cause those aches on the back and the neck after a long

    ride.

    An important use of gloves is protection from the cold during the winter months. As

    mentioned above, there are various types of cycling gloves for providing heat during cold

    weather while maintaining the capability to control the brakes and gears.

    Cycling gloves are also designed to protect the hands during an accident. It’s a natural

    disposition to use the hands to try and break a fall. Skidding across the rocks or surface

    of the road with the hands can be very damaging to the palms. The material of the gloves

    can take the punishment that might have been inflicted on the hands.

    Choosing the Right Cycling Jersey

    Polyester is the most common material for this type of shirt and it is frequently mixed

    with lycra or some kind of microfiber. The main purpose of this material is to keep the

    rider cool by wicking the sweat away from the body. This is vital when the cyclist engages

    in some serious cycling that causes a lot of perspiration.

    There are many places where an individual can purchase a cycling jersey even on the web.

    There is a broad array of colors, patterns to choose from. Some of the brands that are

    available are Cannondale, Voler, Bio Racer, Falconi, Pear Izumi, Ms Tina, Santini and

    Inverse. Cycling shirts can have a long sleeve, short sleeve, or no sleeve in the

    slightest. Your choice will depend upon the weather conditions. For warm weather, you

    should buy a shirt with zips to permit ventilation.

    Where to get the Right Cycling Jersey for your wishes.

    Those that are into pro cycling customarily get their cycling jerseys from their sponsors.

    Naturally, these types of shirts are sometimes covered with the trademarks of these firms.

    However there are stores where you can order a customized cycling shirt. Buying a cycling

    jersey off the rack is not often advocated because they may not exactly fit all of your

    requirements and preferences.

  • Samue cyc;ll Gamester

    there is surprisingly little science published on this subject but it seems to be the case that which colour cyclists wear is of relatively low importance, especially at night. Bright lights (of the correct colour) and reflective materials are far more effective than bright colours. The most effective way of catching a motorists attention quickly is lighting and reflectors on the MOVING part of a cyclists body, ie LEGS, so reflective ankle-straps, reflective striping on shorts and tights/trousers, and pedal reflectors/LEDs etc are all very good. Unfortunately many cyclists are too vain to use such equipment.

  • Keith

    Regarding being seen by motorists – regardless of colour of clothing I believe eye contact at junctions is critical. If you can’t get eye contact then they probably aren’t focused on you but past you – most cars travel faster than most bikes even in urban areas, so they (and I am a motorist too) ‘look’ at a longer distance for the approaching traffic. If you happen to be a lot closer than that, then if you are a big car or bus, you get seen anyway, but if you are a small bike, you don’t get picked up and you get that wonderful excuse ‘I did not see you’. Thats my theory anyway.

  • Mrs S J Wilson

    I wear a bright yellow cape that even a blind man can see and use my lights, flashing, to make myself even more visible in poor light/fog/dark. I also ride well out from the kerb because around the kerb seems to be where the worst potholes are, mostly. It is not that I expect all drivers to see me. It is just that they are left with no excuses if they ever do.

  • BJH

    I also drive a black car and don’t pay extra to insure. However, if I hit a cyclist in it, I don’t get hurt whatever the colour. When i ride a bike, I want to make myself as visbile as I possibly can, because if a car was to hit me, I have no doubt it would certainly hurt.
    Therefore, I take whatever precautions I can – like driving with my headlights on at all times – and opt away from dark colours.
    This is just common sense and whilst it doesn’t mean that every driver will also have common sense to see you no matter what your wearing, better to give him as much chance of doing so as you can.
    SMIDSY may happen whatever you wear but let’s not make it easier !

  • stuart stanton

    All the comments have their merits, just shows what an emotive issue this is. In the Leeds area, it doesn’t matter what you wear, there are so many potholes old and, mostly, new that on some roads riding is the equivalent of a skiing slalom. Last sunday morning I managed to tuck in behind a snowplough for part of my 8 mile journey to work, I then spent another three miles on the wrong side of a snowbound road, the A.62 no less, which is dead straight and had slightly less of a covering. Ho hum

  • Les Crook

    Hi all

    Good debate! I will not profess any great sage like qualities and can only offer a few personal observations.

    I ride at every excuse really. My standard dress is a combination of stealth and conspicuity. My jacket of choice is the Altura Night Vision in black, nice and subtle for the main part but lights up like a beacon in headlights. I wear a yellow jacket when out of town as it does help when range of vision is greater.

    I also ride operationally as a paramedic and the powers that be have decreed I will look like bananaman. Has this helped avoid SMIDSY er nope it hasn’t.

    It is worth remembering the difference between visablilty and conspicuity. One is dressing brightly the other is placing yourself where you can be seen.

  • Richard Ashton

    I’m 65, wear a helmet and bright colours, 50+ years of road sense and I command my space, ride a bit further out and you’ve got somewhere to escape to! All this is great, but it doesn’t stop idiots hanging out of cars and shouting etc, I’ve even had fag ends flicked at me, even when they see you they still pull out ‘cos they assume you’re doing 10mph or less. Oh, by the way, Iv’e been driving for 48years as well so I see both sides, don’t jump the lights guys (and gals). Dress to be seen, but no legislation please Nanny State.

  • Emma

    I find it strange (and some what stupid!) that there has to be a devisionamoungst cyclist, about what we as individuals choose to wear when riding. Common sence is your best bet! and as mentioned good awareness of the road and other road users, I use the many of the same principles that I learnt from my motorcycle instructor ten years ago.
    Also if conditions are poor I put my floresent on, if not I wear what cycle clothing I like and that I am comfy in,wheather its my pink flowery jersy or my dark bergundy jacket. I always have a rear light on in the winter and if its mank my frount light to
    I admit I would never go with out a helmet, I’ve had my live saved by one when I came off my mountain bike at 14 and my head hit a metal spike in the track (helmet inpaled, head ok), but what others choose to wear is up to them.
    When I’m riding I don’t care what people think of what I’m wearing. I’m happy, comfy and enjoying my bike.
    Its silly that misserys have to try and dictate on such petty things and remove our personal choice in what I find to be a very gratifying sport.

  • ian dickson

    @mike thomas, i don’t recall saying i has “fabulous” road presence ? whats fabulous ? a chicken on my head !!
    In my opinion, if every cyclist wore Hi-Vis jackets and i mean EVERY cyclist , car / van drivers would not notice bikes any more or less. If the odd brightly coloured riders catches the eye of a dozy motorist all good and well but if all riders dressed like that i reckon the effect would be cancelled out. A comparison would be a new road sign with a hi-vis colour scheme. at 1st we all notice it but soon it just fades into your subconciesness. As a car driver myself i never notice hi-vis dressed riders any more or less than other riders as long as they have bright lights. I’m lit up like a xmas tree, a car driver would have to be Mr Magoo to not see me. AND if we are referring to daytime riding were no lights are required but people still think we should still wear hi-vis I say this- if a driver cannot see a cyclist in daylight conditions he/ she should not be allowed behind a wheel. If its dusk or dawn lighting conditions – turn your lights on – LED lights cost barely pennies to run.
    Happy Safe riding

  • Mike Lucas

    With you up to a point Mike but I think Dr Hutch hit the nail on the head when he said its beter to address the cause, not the symptom. He said something like……..
    We are aware that violence in city centres is a problem but anyone who sugested that all people who are going to be there late at night ,on a weekend ,should be made to wear body armour and a helmet, would be laughed at.
    That is fairly similar to forcing cyclists to wear helmets and fluro clothing.

  • mike thomas

    @Ian Dickson – I am in awe of your fabulous road ‘presence’ particularly as you seem to suggest you are simultaneously listening to your iPod. Quite a feat.
    As a cyclist these past 40 years I can say I really don’t give a damn what other cyclists wear and nor would I presume to suggest anything should be compulsory, however I can’t help but feel some riders are missing the point here. You can assert your cycling rights all you like but that assertion is done from a position of great vulnerability. As we know when cars hit bikes there is only one winner. It may be your ‘right’ to pedal around dressed in black etc. but my guess is most motorists are paying scant attention to the likes of you or I at the best of times, at night or in poor visibility when their minds are elsewhere the stealth rider does him or herself no favours.
    And Ian I agree absolutely with your reamrks about not jumping red lights, the need for good lights and above all, as you rightly say, having a presence on the road.
    Happy pedaling everyone.

  • Mike Skiffins

    Both the arguments about helmets and colour have tended to focus on separate but individual points.
    Legislation forcing cyclists (or at least people who ride bikes) to ‘wear’ will probably deter some people from adopting cycling.
    However, once you are a cyclist there is evidence that wearing a helmet can, in some cases, protect you from cranial or facial damage.
    Why should cyclists be forced to dress like a beacon? Trade teams are wearing black as a fashion and distinction matter, but a solo cyclist is a different matter. Yes, motorists should be looking out for everything happening on the road or near it, but do we need to make it more difficult for them?
    Dressing the same colour as the tarmac doesn’t help, so I prefer to wear something bright.
    In nature, the wasp dresses in Black and yellow stripes to warn predators.
    Correspondents are incorrect in saying motorists are not penalised for driving black cars. That is true, but many years ago they were compelled to ‘wear’ reflectors, and lights at night, and more recently number plates have to be reflective. I consider that compulsion for cyclists on these matters is best avoided (as are cyclists) but advice is a different matter.

  • Tim Davies

    I agree. The main aspect of surviving is your position in the road – ‘claiming the road for yourself’ as I like to put it. Don’t hide in the gutter, motorists will be just as close and afford you even less room to correct to avoid the pothole or debris in your path. I ride a little further out than motorists like, I get in the way, I cause them delays of a few seconds and cause them to use slightly more fuel. I do this on purpose – it wakes most motorists from thier drive-time-daydream. What you wear is important especially when it comes to areas where there is less traffic, as visibility allows the motorist to see you well in advance and take action with plenty of time to decide to overtake or wait. Close up in heavier traffic it makes almost no difference at all, it is far too late for them to decide. There you have to be present, to ensure the traffic flows around you – most drivers follow the bloke in front almost religiously and if the ‘snake’ is already around you, then you’re likely to be OK. However random chance worries me, I do all I can to be seen – whatever the circumstances.

  • Mike Lucas

    Quite agree.
    Road position is crucial in town riding. You have to be part of the trafic flow. If you ride in the gutter you are no longer part of that flow and drivers will either, ignore you, not see you, or try to squeze past when there is no room. Be visible by your road position and you will be safer.

    Cheers.

  • hywel thomas

    Spare a thought for us parents who don’t make their kids wear helmets.

  • ian dickson

    i agree. i wear dark or black clothing plus black winter bike for commuting at 7-30am in rush hour traffic. EVEN ipod in my ears.AND NO helmet– been doing this for 20 years. Its about your road presence. I never jump red lights because this only wicks off the motorists waiting at the lights and they are less likely to have any respect for you if you ignore the lights.
    Personally , i feel i have too much dark clothing but NOT from any safety angle, its just boring all the same colour it just seems to be what i’ve bought over the years.
    But cyclists at war with other cyclists because they in their wisdom know what we should ALL wear (inc helmets) is verging on arrogance.
    I ride with others who wear lids and dayglo hi-vis gear and they have poor road sense. They brake badly position themseves badly – they seem frightened and intimidated by other road users ie cars. Safe riding is achieved not by clothing but by awareness , positioning ,eye contact and signalling. Good lights help !!
    BTW has anyone else noticed a direct corelation between a rider becoming a parent and wearing a helmet ? None of my friends wore helmets until they had kids – responsibility hey.