A third of cyclists think that road safety could be improved by legislating for compulsory hi-viz clothing, research has found.
A survey of 1,000 cyclists carried out on behalf of Autoglass, of whom 30 per cent were predominantly commuters as opposed to leisure cyclists, also found that when it came to safety, half supported the idea of more cycle lanes, a third wanted compulsory cycling proficiency tests, while only 16 per cent supported lower speed limits for drivers - although these figures were not reported by the windscreen repair company.
Those sampled for the study, evenly split between men and women, were in general more likely to use a helmet than not (60%) and one in four already regularly used hi viz clothing.
More interestingly, only 42 per cent regularly used a front light, and even fewer - 27 per cent, a rear light. 15 per cent said they listened to music while cycling - the survey used the word "admitted", we're not sure what the figures are for drivers who 'admit' to listening to musch are but we are sure they are considerably higher. Listening to music is of course legal whatever type of private vehicle you are in charge of.
Almost half (48%) admitted being caught out without lights or high-vis clothing when the clocks go back - predominantly younger riders in this sample. Commuter cyclists are most likely to be unwittingly caught out, with 63 per cent saying they forgot to take the basic equipment needed to make themselves be seen on the road on their cycle home from work.
The research found that young cyclists are amongst the most likely to be unprepared for the clocks going back. 60 per cent of 18-24 year olds did not pack lights or hi-viz clothing, and 50 per cent of this age group confessed to having had an accident or near miss whilst riding a bike – a higher proportion than the older respondents surveyed.
According to the Department for Transport’s latest figures, 118 cyclists were killed on Britain’s roads in 2012, up from 107 in 2011 and accounting for 7% of all road deaths. The number of cyclists seriously injured increased by 4 per cent to 3,222.
Matthew Mycock, Managing Director at Autoglass said: “Cyclists are the only group of road users at increased risk of injury and death on the roads over recent years and ‘stealth-cycling’ shouldn’t be an option. It’s crucial that cyclists do all they can to protect themselves and standing out with high visibility clothing can help to save lives.
“This is why, linked to our partnership with Brake, we are supporting the Brake ‘Bright Day’ campaign to remind cyclists to think about their winter cycling equipment this weekend and get ready for the darker evenings, and to remind drivers to watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.
“Remembering to use simple items such as bike lights, high visibility jackets, brightly coloured clothes, glow-in-the-dark stickers and reflectors will ensure better safety in the months ahead”.
In fact, hi viz clothing alone is not necessarily the best protection a cyclist can take.
In an Australian study, it was discovered that reflective patches on the moving parts of a cyclist’s body were the most effective way to be seen in the dark.
It found that while only 27 per cent of older drivers noticed a cyclist in black clothing with no lights riding in the dark, 100 per cent of younger drivers spotted a rider in a bright vest with ankle and knee reflectives, whether or not they had a light.
Earlier this year we reported the remarks of a coroner in New Zealand, who called for cyclists to wear high-viz following the death of an elderly man who was hit by a car.
Ian Grant Scott, 72, was actually wearing a fluorescent jacket at the time of his death in Green Island, Dunedin last year, but Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar said that it appeared he had not been fully aware of traffic
He said: “In my view, it is always appropriate for those riding cycles on roads carrying other vehicular traffic to do all that they can to ensure they make themselves visible to other road users.
"Riders of bicycles, particularly on main roads, owe a duty and a responsibility to other road users."
It followed another New Zealand coroner’s call for mandatory hi-viz, which the Ministry of Transport was said to be considering.
The coroner described it as a "no-brainer" and said it should apply to all cyclists riding in public at all times, made his recommendation in the case of a senior police officer originally from the UK who was described as “the face of road policing” in the country
Superintendent Steve Fitzgerald, who began his career with Leicestershire Police in 1967 and moved to New Zealand seven years later, was killed by an articulated lorry as he negotiated a roundabout on his way home from work one evening in late June 2008, midwinter in the Southern Hemisphere
In the UK, as we reported at the time, insurer Churchill attempted to claim contributory negligence relating to a teenage girl who suffered brain injuries after she was struck by a driver it insures while she was walking home at night along a country lane.
Churchill was not disputing the driver's liability, but argued that contributory negligence was present on the teenager's part because she should have been aware of the need to take the precaution of wearing hi-vis clothing.