Why wear a safety vest on a bicycle?

“Cycling in the city is dangerous!” This is often the discourse we hear from non-cyclists and motorists. But what is dangerous is above all not to be seen by motorists. To be visible to other road users, there are some essential accessories for cyclists, including the safety vest. But what exactly is it? When should a cyclist wear it and under what conditions? We take stock of the reflective vest.


The benefit of wearing a safety vest


Beyond has become a symbol of social protest in France, the fluorescent, safety, or high visibility vest, more commonly known as the “yellow vest” is, although not very aesthetic, above all a protective equipment. Usually, fluorescent yellow to allow maximum visibility, it also has several retro-reflective horizontal bands. The fluorescent yellow fabric allows it to be visible in daylight. The reflective bands are particularly visible at night under headlight illumination.


How does it work?

The yellow vest works by retro-reflection. Illuminated by a light source, like the headlights of a car, the vest reflects the light in the direction of this source. The driver of a vehicle equipped with headlights directed towards the cyclist will therefore be able to identify the presence of another user and adapt his driving accordingly. But the vest doesn’t just reflect the yellow component of the light. It absorbs the rest of the light, some of which it converts into additional yellow light which is also reflected. Thus lit, the vest appears brighter than a white object, but only in the color yellow.


To understand how the safety vest works, you can do a little experiment. Hang a reflective vest on a coat rack with the reflective stripes prominently displayed. Move away from a few meters and illuminate it with a flashlight. You will then be able to see how you shine when dressed in your yellow vest on your bike, you shine under the headlights of a car.

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