I recently saw this Bike Commuter Kit at Fleet Feet. Contents: reflective ankle strap, reflective vest, reflective stickers, blinky lights, body wipes. Okay, there’s nothing wrong with this kit if that’s what you’re into. Certainly, wearing a reflective vest does no harm. I never wear them because I do not see value in them in the well-lit city. I’m sure others would disagree and that’s fine. But wearing this stuff does not mean you will be safe. Neon yellow is not a magic safety bubble. Twice in one day this week I saw cyclists almost get creamed by entering intersections when their lights were red. Both of these men were covered with neon.
The first was opposite me at a large intersection. We both had the green, but a police car with sirens was approaching and all traffic stopped. By the time the police car went by, our light had just turned red. I stayed where I was, while this guy decided to make a break for it. He got half-way across the large tri-street intersection, but for the second half the cars could not see him coming until he was in front of them. Brake slamming and horn honking ensued. I put my hand to my mouth in horror, but the guy made it through. The second guy passed me while I was waiting at a red light, got half way across, and then slammed on his brakes (which were wet from the snow and made an awful noise) when he saw a car coming.
Now, I am no angel and have been known to use a red light as a stop sign, but only in VERY limited circumstances involving one-way streets and absolute certainty that no car could suddenly appear. My point here is that if you’re going to encase yourself in neon to be “safe,” then try riding safely at the same time. You don’t even have to go to a store to buy it.