Roads today are twice as crowded as they were twenty or thirty years ago. Since 1970 the number of cars being driven has doubled but roadway mileage has hardly changed. Automobile design has advanced and drivers are now more isolated from their surroundings. They also enjoy hugely reduced risks of a crash injury. Driving is now more affordable to a larger range of people. The social broadening of automobile use is an important reason why traffic has doubled in less than thirty years. (As a society we became less tolerant of drunk drivers partly because roads became more crowded.)
Because cars are better capsules and driving is now widely distributed across social classes, most roads are more crowded, and street riding is relatively more dangerous. Experienced riders have long worn black leather jackets to provide protection from weather and spills. Being conspicuous was once less important than being protected. Roadways were comparatively empty so the chance of getting hit by someone was a lot less than the chance of simply falling or crashing as a result of one’s own creative riding techniques.
In some of today's denser urban traffic corridors these risk factors may be reversed. The chance of being hit by an inexperienced or inattentive driver can be a larger risk. Wearing Hi-Viz Lime Yellow is a good way to reduce this risk and take back a piece-of-road for yourself... and for motorcycling.
Today, everyday riding is sometimes seen as excessively risky or dumb. In response many riders have re-discovered cruisers (and narrowly focused sport bikes). These artistically designed machines are especially fun on quiet roads where they can evoke some of motorcycling's oldest sensations and traditions. In contrast, motorcycle commuting via today’s overcrowded arterials can become almost a gladiatorial contest against a dangerous mix of both drivers and vehicles. Wearing Hi-Viz Lime Yellow is about riding everywhere, every day, all of the time. Hi-Viz Lime Yellow will not reset the clock to 1970, but it does reset the odds for everyday riding on today's crowded roads.
Intended to serve the special needs of the urban and bad-weather commuter and others who value visibility and recognition for safety purposes, Aerostich Roadcrafters and Darien Jackets are now available in Hi-Viz Lime Yellow (Fed. Spec. #595-23655). This garment option will assure that the rider is highly conspicuous in traffic-dense, overcast, or low light environments. Developed for use in municipal safety applications, it was found that fire trucks this color were 300% less likely to be involved in accidents.
Hi-Viz Lime Yellow ‘jumps out’ on a primal level because it is not naturally occurring, and because the human eye is most sensitive to light in this part of the spectrum. (The eye is least receptive to red & black). The brightest color possible under visible light, Hi-Viz Lime Yellow is more effective than fluorescent colors which, because of their chemical makeup are dependent on the uv radiation in sunlight to ‘glow’, making them less effective at night and in vehicle headlights. The piercing Hi-Viz Lime Yellow carries plenty of visual ‘punch’ even under incandescent and low-light conditions. The well-known Hurt report contains data indicating that most drivers colliding with motorcyclists list “not seeing the rider” as a primary cause of car/motorcycle accidents. As another weapon in the arsenal of the urban commuter, these garments are unmatched. (Photographs and printed images may not fully show the visual impact of Hi-Viz Lime Yellow.)
Philosophically, "decent looking" colors are in the eye of the beholder. Firemen wear hi viz that is filthy with soot and smoke because even dirty it is more visible than other colors. Some riders feel that being more easily seen by others on the road cancels any concerns non-riders have over decent appearances. Other riders revel in the gritty visceral-ness of motorcycling and seek ways to display this to non-riders . It's possible to identify with both of these perspectives - Mr. Subjective 9/03
More information on this topic can be found here:
New Zealand Motorcycle Conspicuity Study