The hi-vis army: reclaiming our commute

Bikes locked up at Red Jet ferry terminal

Queuing for the ferry every day you’ll see a lot of yellow. A neon jacket, a flash of fluorescent and even the odd bright orange sock. And the numbers in these garish colours only grow as you drive through the city on the other side. Impossible to ignore, sliding seamlessly through traffic, pedalling purposefully towards their carbon-free day. Smug gits. When you join these neon ranks it’s hard not to feel just a little pleased with yourself. Just a ten-minute spin and your heart’s racing, you feel full of fresh air, and you beat the bus! That alone makes it worthwhile.

Cycling in the city is speedy and ever-changing. There’s no guarantee a car won’t pull directly in front of you, even if they appear to have seen you; or they might overtake and then stop directly in front of you to make a right hand turn. Some drivers anticipate a bike and will stop for you to pass, or to make the final push up a narrow hill. After all, it’s always easier to stop and start in a car.

You can’t predict what a car may do, but you can make sure that all the cars around you know what you’re doing. Take up proper space in the road, don’t hobble in the gutter. Point to your turnings, take the proper lane on a roundabout, and smile! Car drivers don’t want to run you over, especially if you’re sticking to the universal rule of the road: don’t be a dick.

Too often I’m stuck driving city streets instead, and I know that ugly neon is the easiest way to spot a cyclist. I’m staggered by the number of people on bikes, in neon, with helmets. It might not be the most stylish look, but it is the smartest. With the promise of fresh air and fast riding, I relish the odd chance to commute by bike rather than car. And when I do, I might even wear a bit of yellow.

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