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Asking the impossible - hi viz but not dorky while cycling?
I cycle short distances and I wear my usual office clothes and shoes, but for extra safety in the evening I need to increase my visibility.
Bearing in mind I usually wear ankle boots and skinny trousers or a dress, and a wool or down coat, what can I wear on top to be visible to traffic? Hi-viz cycling jackets are designed to be worn over active wear but I'd be wearing normal city clothes (bulkier).
I'll have decent lights of course, probably two sets (helmet and bicycle).
I realise the solution is probably one of these vest but I'm going to look like an employee of the AA aren't I?
I need similar. Just now I chuck on an IKEA vest and look like an idiot but I like that it means I still have a smart coat with me for lunch at the office and can stuff it into my bag in case I end up leaving work later than planned. A style tip this is not! I think of the high vis options the grey ones are the nicest - someone recommended a Mountain Warehouse one to me but it is still, y’know...
I do similar and I do take the approach of looking like an AA mechanic - but at least I can take it off and shove it in a bag once I'm off the bike. Might be worth having a look at www.cyclechic.co.uk - they have lots of cycling clothes options. Some are a bit 'interesting' but there might be something there that fits the bill. I always like the look of their reflective scarves, but probably not enough by themselves.
If you can knit/crochet, I found gorgeous yarn last year that's a wool mix with a glass thread which reflects light well. I made a scarf that lights up in direct light. I can look for a link if you're interested.
Your best bet is to add reflective bands to your ankles and hands. Dipped car headlights don't catch hi-vis jackets in their beams properly and you need something that reflects light. Any area that moves, ankles/wrists with reflective strips, is better at emphasising movement.
Even better is another light either attached to your bag or the back of your helmet. Anything that actually emits light or reflects light is better than so-called yellow hi-vis at night. The yellow fabric neither reflects or emits light and is no better than black in darkness. Hi-vis over jackets work best at dawn and dusk and low light levels as that is when the contrast is at its best
In my experience Sam Brown belts and wrist/ankle straps are pretty useless - they're too small to be effective, easily obscured, and the retroreflective material isn't strong enough.
The most important thing is making sure your lights are as good as they can be, and mounted in the right place - not on your seatpost, where they can be obscured by your coat, or helmet (when you move your head it becomes harder to see) but on the pannier rack. Your light might come with a mounting bracket that enables you to do this, or you can usually order one cheaply. Details here. Light on the front dipped slightly down so not to dazzle and not obscured by basket etc. The best investment I've ever made for my bike has been a hub dynamo, and it means never having your lights unexpectedly die on a dark night.
I'd also consider one of the Proviz gilets - if you got a size up it can go over your coat, and they're the most noticeable of all the hi-vis wear that I've seen on the road.
I love this jacket. It looks like a normal grey rain jacket in daylight but when lights hit it at night it lights up like a Christmas tree. Unfortunately it's a men's cut so it depends on your body shape whether it works for you.