The colors are fine for cycling. Studies say the colors make little to no difference. Contrast is more important.
Also if you're riding in a group, the group will be noticed just fine. So wear whatever colors you want.
We look at whether wearing black is asking for trouble
Nick Hussey, founder and creative director of Vulpine, goes one step further, saying that he’s sceptical that there’s any point in wearing hi-vis in daylight in any case.
“The research on visibility is so mixed (apart from at night, when reflective kit and good lighting is a must). If someone isn’t going to see you, they won’t notice you whether you’re in a yellow jacket or a black one.”
Contrast is key
A study by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), part of the UK Department for Transport, which looks at all aspects of transport safety and functionality found that when it came to collisions between motorcycles and other vehicles, head to toe hi-vis had little or no impact in ‘SMIDSY’ collisions
– those cases of: ‘Sorry, mate. I didn’t see you.’
Another recent study, again into motorcyclist visibility on the road, appeared to show that drivers saw moving motorbikes more quickly if there was a greater colour contrast between the background and the rider’s clothes. This was backed up in research carried out by the Swedish cycling brand POC, which found that although fluorescent clothing made riders more visible, there was a crucial difference between being seen and being recognised.
The important definition here is the difference between motorists seeing cyclists and recognising them. Visibility depends on the quality of daylight/streetlight and background environment. Backing this up, at its most surprising, this means that sometimes a black jacket may be the best option for visibility in an urban environment
— a 2012 study by the Transport Research Laboratory concluded that, unlikely as it sounds, black or white sometimes offered more of a stark contrast than bright colours on busy city roads.
Black is a favourite colour for cyclists, but is it really more dangerous to wear? Joseph Branston
The consensus seems to be to wear what you like, but make sure it’s reflective. Even considering this advice, an analysis of accidents involving cyclists found that despite the fact that most of them happen in low-light conditions, dark clothing was reported to have been considered a factor in only 2.5 percent of incidents according to police feedback.
By John Marsh The Wall Street Journal’s July 1 article “How Cyclists Can Stay Safe on the Road” reported on recent research conducted by a Clemson University professor into how conspicuous certain apparel makes cyclists during daytime riding, and how conspicuous are tail lights during daytime...
The Wall Street Journal’s July 1 article “How Cyclists Can Stay Safe on the Road” reported on recent research conducted by a Clemson University professor into how conspicuous certain apparel makes cyclists during daytime riding, and how conspicuous are tail lights during daytime riding.
Rick Tyrrell, Ph.D., is a psychology professor who specializes in research “to improve our understanding of human visual capabilities and limitations” in an effort to “reduce societal problems that result from visual limitations.”
He and his team conducted two studies, both partially funded by Trek Bicycle Corp., titled: “An open-road study of the conspicuity benefits of bicyclist apparel in daylight.” And “An open-road study of the conspicuity of bicycle taillights in daylight.”
Experiment One: How Conspicuous is Certain Apparel?
In the first experiment, according to the WSJ article, 186 college students were separately driven on a route lasting 15 minutes and were asked to push a button each time they “were confident that they saw a cyclist.”
Somewhere on the route, the researchers had placed a stationary bicycle, with a rider wearing “one of four combinations of clothes, from all-black to nearly all-fluorescent yellow.”
To summarize the findings, according to the article: “…the fluorescent jersey didn’t make the cyclist significantly more recognizable as a cyclist than a black jersey.
When the cyclist wore fluorescent leg coverings, however, observers recognized he was a cyclist more than three times farther away on average than when he work black leggings and a fluorescent jersey.”
“Humans are really good at recognizing other humans,” Dr. Tyrrell said.
The upshot is that, because of the fluorescent yellow being worn on the legs, which when pedaling a bike churn in a very obvious motion that humans easily recognize, the wearer is more readily identified as a cyclist.
It’s the key difference between a bright color being worn “statically” on the torso, for example, which moves very little when riding a bike, and that same bright color being worn “actively” on the legs, which are nearly constantly in motion when riding.
Experiment Two: How Conspicuous are Tail Lights?
It turns out, that same static-vs.-active dynamic holds when it comes to tail lights, according to the second of Dr. Tyrrell’s experiments.
This time, the researchers found, during the day, “that from a distance of 200 meters…a flashing tail light is significantly more conspicuous than an always-on tail light, which in turn is significantly more conspicuous than” no tail light at all.
As a kicker, the WSJ article reported on a year-long cycling experiment in Denmark among 4,000 cyclists, which found “that those who used front and rear daytime running lights had 19% fewer crashes that caused injury than those in a control group.”