Wear polite clothing to get noticed while cycling

Years and years ago I remember a small clothing company produced a cycling jacket emblazoned with ‘polite’. When written in big, bold white capital letters on a black background the word made motorists do a double take. I’ve searched in vain for the originator of this idea so I’ve produced a range for Quickrelease.tv.

If anybody knows who did the original jacket, I’d love to hear from you. Use the comments section, below. Commenter Rob points out there’s a hi-vis ‘polite’ vest from Justin Beattie, founder of the Give Cyclists Room campaign.

I’d also love to get Dr Ian Walker in one of these jackets. Dr Walker, a pro-bike blogger and British competitor in the World Wife Carrying Championships, is the academic from the University of Bath who, last year, used sensors and a video camera to measure how close cars passed him when cycling.

White vans – the fastest growing transport mode in the UK, according to Transport Statistics Great Britain 2007, gave an average passing distance of 1.26 metres. Cars allowed Dr Walker an extra 10 centimetres.

“At the kinds of speeds and distances that cyclists are overtaken on our city streets, reducing the gap between cyclist and vehicle can have life-threatening safety implications,” said Dr Walker in 2006.

Dr Walker famously donned a blonde wig to see if drivers give women cyclists extra room when passing. Apparently, they do.

A long-sleeved tee (One Less Car/POLITE) will be winging towards Dr Walker soon. He told Quickrelease.tv:

“As we now have good evidence that drivers are sensitive to a cyclist’s appearance and adjust their overtaking based on what they see, there’s every reason to believe [the POLITE printing] could work to offer a safety advantage. However, I’d be very interested to hear what the police think of it! I could imagine them worrying about a backlash, whereby drivers become wise to cyclists wearing these and so effectively become ‘blind’ to police officers?”

Bike patrol officers have told me they are given a wide berth by motorists when using police bikes, wearing police kit, but as soon as they change back into civvy street clothes they go back to being targets again.

DISCLAIMER: The POLITE clobber is NOT police uniform. It is not meant to deceive. I’m not encouraging anyone to impersonate a police officer. See this comment regarding wearing clothing resembling a police uniform. As always, it’s a grey area. For instance, this Scottish stripogram ‘policeman’ was charged with impersonating a police officer but not for the clothing, for the truncheon ie having a weapon in the street.

I’ve created a print shop stocked with number of POLITE garments – including a black jacket and a long sleeved t-shirt (with One Less Car on the front). And borrowing the Howies idea of rucksacks emblazoned with a passing arrow, I’ve also added white-on-black arrows on two of the jackets. There’s a UK version and a rest-of-the-world version. The Trigema jacket retails for £57.29, or £53.90 for the POLITE jacket without an arrow. The One Less Car/POLITE longsleeve tee retails for £22.90. The One Less Car/POLITE long-sleeved tee is $30.90 in the US store.

Oh, and for November only, there are no shipping fees on all orders above 20€. Use voucher code XMAS07. If you chose GBP as currency, for all orders above £15, use voucher code XMAS2K7. For the US store, there’s free shipping until November 26th. Offer is valid for all orders above $25, please use coupon code HOLIDAY07 upon checkout. For all orders purchased from Canada, please use coupon code CADHOLIDAY07 upon checkout.