The Out-Group – Why Hi Viz Doesn’t Work

Now you see me?

Now you see me? Or do you?

Muthumanaka Pinhamy, a Birmingham, UK, mother of five, was killed while cycling to work 6.30 one morning despite wearing hi-viz and reflective clothing and using front and rear lights.

An articulated lorry pulled out of a side street and struck and crushed her. The driver claimed he was unaware and continued on to complete his deliveries. Ms Pinhamy died in the arms of some refuse collectors who found her on the street.

The driver went on to be found not guilty of causing her death by careless driving.

Now, irrespective of the plausibility or not of the driver’s defence, the case does raise the issue of just what does a cyclist have to do to be seen?

I’ve just read this article on the website which explains very well the phenomenon of perceptual blindness, especially in relation to drivers and cyclists.

If you’ve never seen the introductory video in the article before, just watch the ball …

The “out-group” concept does explain how cyclists have become victims. Virtually every report of cycling death or injury by motor vehicle has the obligatory reference to whether they were wearing a helmet or not, as if by not wearing a helmet it makes a cyclist guilty of contributory negligence as they’re mown down by some texting truck driver.

What’s needed here isn’t more victim blaming; “They have no right on the road”, “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”, “Why do you ride in the dark”, “They weren’t wearing a helmet (when I rear-ended them at 60mph)” …

As cyclists we’re often subject to close-calls, punishment passes, rolling coal and verbal abuse. Whether we’re wearing protective gear or not.

What’s needed is driver education, a concept sadly, and murderously lacking on our roads.

So, continue to wear a helmet or hi viz attire as appropriate, but be under no illusion that there is any inherent advantage in doing so.

I highly recommend you read this article.

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