Making high-viz clothing mandatory is among the recommendations of a coroner who looked into the high-profile death of a Wellington cyclist.
Cycle Action Auckland considers mandatory high-viz clothing to be an inappropriate response. While we do not doubt that high viz clothing, especially during night time periods, adds a lot to cyclist visiblity, and thus safety, it seems to us that making it mandatory further (and incorrectly) classifies cycling as a dangerous activity that special preparations should be needed for.
The coroner doesn’t seem to have made any exemptions in his recommendation, such as limiting high viz to riding on higher-speed roads (such as, say, requiring it along rural state highways only), or only requiring it during night times. Riding to your neighbourhood shop would presumably require high viz, just as trundling along the most bucolic of our NZ Cycle Trails.
Lets take that thought a bit further though. If high-viz clothing is appropriate to make mandatory for cyclists, then why not for pedestrians? Seeing as the most common claim from motorists hitting a pedestrian seems to be “I didn’t see him!” Why not ban black cars, who are shown to be highly over-represented in crashes?
Civilised countries don’t expect their residents to clothe themselves in metaporical armour when going outside, engaged in simple trips to work, play or visiting friends. The overwhelming majority of cyclists know quite well what is dangerous, and they expect the rest of society to treat them with care – rather than force them into “one size fits all” policies that could hamper all efforts to increase cycling – which is the best prescription for safer cycling.
Update: We either missed this, or it was added to the Herald article later – but the victim in the coroner’s case WAS wearing some fluoro and had working lights on. So why even make the recommendation? This is getting worse the longer one looks at it.