High visibility goes highly desirable. If cyclists can make high-vis cool, then we can do a lot better with products as we get older.
Read time: 3 minutes
Why do cyclists insist on wearing black when cycling in London at night is such a perilous experience they should rightly cover themselves head to toe in fairy lights?
Before I go any further, I should say I myself am a cyclist; I love the wind in my hair, the easy exercise and the cheap travel. So I am not passing judgement when I write this (I am a terrible culprit myself at times…please don’t tell my mum), it was merely an observation that got me thinking while I was cycling home last night watching a road full of my fellow two-wheeled ninjas navigate their way through the sea of deathly metal juggernauts (I promise I was concentrating on the road as well as pondering!).
My friends and I frequently lament the lack of good looking clothing you can cycle in and still go to work in – which is wind and waterproof, breathable and high visibility, but which doesn’t look like you’ve just scaled Everest or require a remortgaging of your house to buy. We know we should always wear bright clothing, but no matter how good something is for you, or how much people tell you to do it, people still may not do it; it is human nature. We each have different perceptions of risk and and make our own choices depending on what is important to us. Call us vain and silly, but looking good is important to many people, and we all know black is timelessly elegant and goes with everything.
As my friends and I have got older and our priorities have changed a little, we have started to feel happier looking like total high-vis nerds to be safer, but only because we feel we have to, not because we want to. I can see this is a ticking time bomb, as we get even older, for life as a whole, not just cycling. It may not be akin to the danger of London’s roads, but old age is an unknown and challenging place nonetheless. I can see us struggling on with less than helpful home design – perhaps baths we can’t get into or kettles we can’t lift – because the alternatives won’t look as good or will make us feel old and useless. We may end up changing things eventually – but perhaps begrudgingly, or too late for us to enjoy.
Wouldn’t it be much nicer if we could go to our favourite brands to make our homes easier to navigate throughout our lives? Having the option to choose things that reflect our personalities would make us much more likely to use them. It would benefit our children, grandparents, parents and friends along the way too. Sadly, while there are many bright designers out there, as a society there is a woeful lack of vision around designing for our futures at the moment.
There is an upside though. More and more, there are brands making cool cycle wear and I see this as a good sign not just for road safety but for all our futures. There is an increasing understanding that practical does not mean ugly. Designers are getting creative and listening to what people really value. For example, I love these crocheted snoods and gloves that use a cutting edge wool blend with a 15% glassfibre component woven into it, which reflects headlights at night, but just looks cool in the day. They also provide an income for refugee women so you can feel good when you buy one too. Check them out at Glowandsee.com.
You might have seen a jacket with integrated lights by a company called Lumo featured on The Apprentice a while back that goes neatly from bike to office.
Protected Species have come up with technical spec waterproofs that quite simply rock.
More and more people are getting completely 360 Reflective Cycling Jackets, rather than the traditional bright yellow or orange construction site worker look, that just look silver or white in the day, but when headlights hit them they shine like a beacon in the night.
And I want everything in tokyobike. The problem is that everything nice comes with a price tag – such is life – but as fashions and perceptions change, and more and more options come to market we will get more and more of that most beautiful of things, choice.
So as we all get older, we would do well to remember that if we can make high-vis highly desirable and balance form and function in cycle wear, then we can do a lot better for products for our future selves.
Also, cycle more! It keeps you young and saves the world 🙂
Please share this blog if you enjoyed reading it, or know someone who could use some better cycle gear! Perhaps you need a present idea for a cyclist in your life…