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Cyclists urged to wear more reflective gear

Cyclists are being advised to wear more reflective gear at night as vests do not do enough to enhance visibility. Photo / File
Cyclists are being advised to wear more reflective gear at night as vests do not do enough to enhance visibility. Photo / File

The president of an Auckland cycling club has backed calls for riders to wear reflective bands on their ankles and knees, following a study that found traditional reflector vests were not safe enough at night.

Researchers in Queensland have determined the safest way to cycle at night is by wearing reflective bands at joints on the body, most importantly at the ankles and knees.

It found the strategic placement of reflective markers was three times as effective as reflective vests.

High visibility clothing is not effective at night and reflective vests do not do enough to enhance visibility, the study said.

The New Zealand Association of Optometrists (NZAO) has urged all cyclists to adopt the new approach to reflective bands because the bands indicate to drivers what is known as "biological motion''.

Auckland Central Cycling Club president Richard Justice said he welcomed any development to cyclist safety.

He said there was some evidence to suggest that while reflective gear made people more visible, it also made them targets on some roads.

Mr Justice said some drivers who may not "have menace in mind'' are sometimes drawn to drive closer to cyclists who can be seen by their reflective clothing.

The NZAO said "the image of biological motion created by reflector markers on hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows and wrists yields a pattern of motion that is immediately recognisable as a person rather than an object.''

"Drivers have limited ability to recognise pedestrians and cyclists at night,'' member Dr Geoff Sargent said.

"This is why it is so important for road safety and recognition ability at night that people needing to wear corrective lenses have optimum correction and that cataracts are treated early in their development.''

Mr Justice said reflective bands were cheap and it would not be unreasonable for cyclists to buy them if they improved safety at night.

"Compared to other costs associated with cycling they'd be trivial,'' Mr Justice said.

The new research by Dr Joanne Wood, professor at the School of Optometry at Queensland University of Technology, found that recognition distances for pedestrians wearing biomotion markers at night was three times greater than those wearing a reflective vest.

The recognition distances were 50 times greater than for dark clothing and the effect of biomotion markers was "even more pronounced'' when there was glare from oncoming car headlights or if the driver was developing cataracts.

- APNZ

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