Something I found on the street is making me a safer biker. Well, something a friend found while he was biking along with a group of us who were walking. It’s an orange and yellow, reflective construction vest. It must have fallen off the back of a truck or something. It was pretty dirty, but I immediately grasped how useful it would be for biking around the city. There’s nothing that says, “Slow down, motorist!” like one of these vests.
After a few weeks of use, I can report that cars have been keeping their distance more than they used to and are slightly less likely to pass me on the left. There are probably other tweaks that can help a cyclist stand out. One guy I know has a zebra-patterned helmet with a large, brush-like crest. Another coworker recommends taking one of those blinking safety lights and affixing it with an elastic band to your leg. ‘Motorists don’t know what blinks red and bounces up and down,’ he explains. I also remember reading a study a guy did where he wore a long-haired wig to test how drivers kept their distance. He theorized that drivers were more conscious of a female cyclists’ safety rather than a male cyclist’s. I guess I buy that, but that truly seems like a hassle.
Anyway, the vest is mesh and zips up, so I it’s good for summer and winter cycling. I also see online that there are vests with pockets, which might be a nice add-on.
I also discovered it conveys an image of authority. I went to the White House to witness the crowd after Osama bin Laden was killed. An inebriated college student asked me if there were any porta-potties. I told him we hadn’t anticipate the crowd that night, so we neglected to set them up. Guiltily, I also told him I was not an official representative of any government body. I’m sure he didn’t care.
I also own a bullhorn. Combined with the vest, I could probably figure out a way to get prime space at an outdoor concert.
And now I’m wondering if I can get a similarly reflective wrap-around for my car.