Be seen, be visible (Part 2)

During the COVID pandemic it has been encouraging to see and read about the many people using bicycles for fitness, running errands, commuting, and simple enjoyment. At derailleurhanger.com over the last month we have received more orders than normal for hangers used on older bike models. That is great, as it means our customers are dusting off older bikes and getting out on the roads and trails. As we posted on our blog on 17 March 2020, bikes are a great way to get out for fitness, fun and emotional well-being during the pandemic. Please continue to be healthy and safe as you stay active in a manner that your local laws allow.

A purposefully recurring topic on the derailleurhanger.com blog is bicycle safety. In addition to the aforementioned post about safe riding practices during the pandemic, we also wrote about MIPS and WaveCel bike helmet safety technologiesANGi (a crash-sensing technology from Specialized), and some best practices for being seen and visible on the bike.

In this post we would like to highlight an enlightening (no pun intended) article by Joe Lindsey in Outside on 7 April 2020 entitled “High-Vis Clothing Only Matters if Drivers Pay Attention.” While the Outside article, and therefore this blog post, pertains primarily to road cyclists, it is also relevant to the many mountain bike and gravel bike cyclists who must ride on roads to get to a favorite trail or gravel road.

In the Outside article Lindsey discusses the rising number of road fatalities in the US (having now risen to a 25-year high), as well as the increasing availability and use of high-visibility clothing and daytime running lights for riding. Lindsey then reviews the interplay between conspicuity and driver distraction.

Lindsey dives into how and why high-visibility clothing works – and specifically the need to increase both visible conspicuity (how certain bright colors and patterns help cyclists stand apart from other objects in the riding and driving environment) as well as cognitive conspicuity (how those same colors and patterns help drivers quickly sense that an object in their view is human versus non-human, such as a guard rail or road sign). Lindsey cites research by the Visual Perception and Performance Lab at Clemson University (the same lab cited in the Velonews article we referenced in our “Be Seen and Be Visible” blog post). For example, research by the Clemson laboratory determined that drivers notice high-visibility leg warmers from a distance three times greater than black leg warmers. In addition, high visibility clothing worn on feet and knees is more noticeable to drivers than the same color of clothing worn on the torso. So…no more teasing your riding partner who wears fluorescent green shoe covers.

At derailleurhanger.com we have taken a similar approach. For example, we developed a custom road jersey and bib shorts that purposely incorporated high-visibility colors. Please see the photo below of the derailleurhanger.com kit.

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Blog Post 020 – derailleurhanger.com road kit

In a somewhat more concerning section of the Outside article, Lindsey cites studies and reports about how drivers are more and more distracted by devices in the vehicle, stating that “Today we’re often cognitively, visually, and even manually distracted from driving.” Lindsey referenced research and reports documenting that high visibility clothing and gear at times had limited impact on device-distracted drivers better sensing cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists or even inanimate objects. The implication is that device-based distraction is so consuming that drivers are paying much less attention to what is happening outside the car.

Lindsey ends the article with some heartfelt personal thoughts and experiences from his own riding, as well as his emotions and mindset as a cyclist. Lindsey describes how his research and his experiences on the roads and trails has impacted how he approaches riding, where and when he rides, and how he has tried to optimize safety and enjoyment on each ride.

Our primary takeaway from the research referenced by Joe Lindsey and the personal insights he shared is that every cyclist will have to make decisions regarding the types of high-visibility and safety gear he or she will use when riding, as well as what routes and types of riding one decides to engage in. Cycling is a beautiful experience, and for it to be beautiful it means that riding should not be stressful or fearful.

We hope that you and your loved ones are able to stay safe and healthy during the COVID pandemic. A hearty “Thank You!” to the courageous first responders, healthcare providers, grocery workers, delivery personnel (Postal Service, FedEx and others), bike shop employees, and many, many others who are working to help all of us during the coronavirus pandemic.

As always, if you are in need of a replaceable rear derailleur hanger you can use the “1-2-3” process and filter mechanisms available on derailleurhanger.com to quickly find the hanger required on your bike or your customer’s bike. If needed, you can also click on the “Contact Us” link on our website and we will respond quickly to provide personalized assistance. At derailleurhanger.com we work very hard to provide the best quality replaceable derailleur hangers, carry more hanger types than any other provider, and to provide excellent personalized customer service.

Please let us at derailleurhanger.com know if we can assist you in any way. Happy riding!