Going out on your motorcycle in the spring and summer air is always a thrill, right? The sun is out, you’re in a good mood, and you want to just take a ride, especially out of the city and into the countryside.
Unfortunately, that good mood can sour if you encounter quite a few motorists along the way who don’t see you, and they get a little too close to you and your bike for comfort. Sure, you can always tap your brake and honk your horn, and that more or less works, but if your bike is black and your gear is black, the chances of you being seen, and having a safe riding experience, stay a bit diminished.
‘Why Don’t Motorists See Me? I’m Large and My Bike is Huge.’
Granted, you might have a large bike such as a Harley, or one of BMW’s larger bikes, and you yourself might be tall and/or stout. But not everyone has a large bike, and not everyone is physically large. After all, there are female motorcycle enthusiasts out there. They’re somewhat less common, but they do exist. Add to this the type of distracted, inattentive driving many motorists do, plus the rather unconscious tendency to only look out for other cars and not take the smaller profile of a motorbike into consideration, and you have a recipe for a road collision.
Which is why wearing high-visibility gear has become quite important in alerting auto drivers to pay attention all around and focus on what they’re doing
High-Visibility Gear: Riding in Day-Glow Colours
To many riders, particularly the younger ones, wearing high-vis clothing for safety has long been considered ‘un-cool.’ At least it was, until recently. There are many gear companies that have now incorporated day-glow, high-vis colours into their jacket, glove and helmet designs, so that it seems that all you’re looking at is bright shades of orange and yellow mixed in with black in racing-style checker patterns, among other concepts.
The reason why there has been such a push for motorcyclists to get into the habit of wearing high-vis clothing is that motorists see someone like an ambulance crew member, a cop or a road worker, and they’re more likely to pay attention. Plus, high-vis gear is super-helpful on days when it rains, because rain cuts visibility drastically.
Now, that said, you might wonder just how much high-vis gear truly prevents crashes.
After all, if you’re the one obeying the rules of the road, but the driver in the car next to you is fiddling with their hot beverage, their radio dial, or whatever else is distracting them, a collision seems almost inevitable, and the driver will give the usual SMIDSY response to the police when they get to the scene, if there is a crash.
But the truth is, yes, it is most definitely worth it to have high-vis gear on, especially if there is a crash. Because if you were wearing the high-vis gear, and your solicitor and the judge know it, you’ll be looked on with more favour than if you rode with no high-vis clothing on.
Types of High-Vis Clothing
If you’re new to wearing high-vis gear, you can always start with the tried-and-true neon safety vest. It’s easy to roll up and stick in a storage compartment when you’re not riding. However, because road crews also wear these, you might want a slightly different design to what you’ve seen them wear.
Picking a different design to that of the usual checkered cop jacket or vest is also a good idea. If motorists see you out their windows, and you’re wearing something similar to what a cop wears, their behaviour might actually become more unpredictable because they’re being the best drivers in the world all of a sudden, and you might not be prepared for that sudden shift in action.
Since helmets are a must, definitely go for a helmet in, say, a bright solid yellow. Or, if you’re concerned with your ‘cool’ factor, there are helmets that work those day-glow colours into the visual design, such as racing-style checks.
Perhaps, instead, you want a sharp geometric design on your helmet that can take on a certain futuristic sci-fi feel. That’s available, too, and if you pair that with high-vis touring gloves, reflective tape on your rims, and other high-vis clothing, you’ll not only be safer, you’ll truly be elevating high-vis gear into the realm of ‘cool.’
The whole aim of high-visibility clothes is to get you and your bike noticed, with the ultimate goal of keeping you as safe as humanly possible. Accidents do happen, but the more often you wear high-vis clothing, you’re doing your part to prevent those accidents as much as humanly possible.