CYCLISTS wearing bright fluorescent clothing at night are not as safe as they think, especially when sharing the road with older drivers, a study shows.

A […] study looked at whether clothing influenced cyclists’ visibility. It found older drivers failed to see riders dressed in black or in fluorescent clothing. Younger drivers were more likely to see a rider in fluorescent clothing, but overall only 15 per cent saw the bright colour and just 2 per cent saw a rider wearing black.

Drivers saw riders wearing a reflective vest and reflectors on their ankles and knees 90 per cent of the time.

The study […] reported cyclists often thought they were more visible than they actually were to drivers.

She said the study found reflective material on moving body parts attracted the eye more readily than a reflective vest alone.

“Our research is showing that bigger and brighter isn’t necessarily better, but it is showing that reflective strips can make you visible, like a beacon, at moveable points (ankles and knees),” Dr. Wood said.

“My observation is that cyclists are generally very keen to do what they can to make themselves visible and we need to furnish them with the evidence.”

Dr Wood said fluorescent was useful during the day, but street lights and headlights did not have any ultraviolet light that causes fluorescent clothing to glow. Many fluorescent clothes had reflectors, she said, and bright colours and white were generally seen more easily than dark colours.

British research has shown fluorescent yellow, red, and orange can improve a person’s visibility to others in the daytime.

But at night, lights, flashing lights and reflective materials in red and yellow colours increased detection and recognition.


Dr Wood’s research pointed out that studies had shown about 40 per cent of cyclist fatalities occurred at night, although only about 12 per cent of cyclists ride at night.


From The Age