Conspicuity video

I saw this cyclist on Scott Boulevard / Arques Avenue in Santa Clara / Sunnyvale last night. I think this video seems to show the reflective ankle straps are the most noticeable things about her, but in real life I first saw the blinking Planet Bike Superflash tail lights.


The top light was a little bit askew on her backpack, but it was still reasonably eye catching. Next was her purple shorts (maybe she works at Yahoo?), then the ankle straps and finally the yellow jacket. I only noticed the jogging vest with the reflective strips tucked her backpack as I passed her. In any case, she was very visible to me and I hope the passing motorists.

Me, I had my two front lights, a pair of taillights, and a single reflective strap on my right pant leg to keep it out of the chain. I’e also retained the spoke reflectors on my bike. I think my jacket might have some reflective piping on it, as do my shoes. Otherwise, I wore normal clothing last night — the same brown polyester slacks and green fleece shirt that I wore at the office during the day.

Here’s the Strava track of last night’s ride.


  1. He wasn’t racing, he was just passing her so he could get a side view as she rode through the light. 🙂

    What I noticed most about the rider is how lucky I am to not have to ride along high speed roads for my commute. It’s too easy for drivers to missing seeing you when they’re driving 50 mph, even if you’re lit up like a Christmas tree.

  2. Conspicuity and reflectivity appear different on a bicycle than when viewed from the headlights of motor vehicles. I’m not saying this cyclist isn’t doing a good job, but bicycle headlamps sometimes give a better impression than what drivers of cars see. If you drive a car, you know what I mean. The best evidence high visibility at night would be a video of cyclists made in the passenger seat of a car. This is meant as a constructive suggestion. FWIW, I ride at night using a reflective vest and ankle bands, as well as a flashing PB Turbo Flash. Some reflective vests are much more reflective than others. Mavic has some of the best, IMO. (Link:

  3. THanks Wildbill, this is exactly the kind of discussion I’m looking for and I’d like to run video from inside the car some day just as you suggest.

    Just from my experience, active lighting is by far the best way to be seen. Yellow jackets and all the rest might be fine supplements, but they don’t seem to add a whole lot to the equation.

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