Put a sock in it

SockGuy socks: Police and Share the Road

I love these new socks from SockGuy. Both pairs are controversial. The Share The Road logo is seemingly benign: of course, cars and bicycles should share the road. But some motorists think such signs mean cyclists should ‘share’ the road by getting out of the way.

It would be great to think you could scare such drivers by pointing to your ‘Police’ socks but, of course, pretending to be a cop is punishable in just about every jurisdiction on the planet.

Wearing the word ‘Polite’ is perhaps the next best thing. Years and years ago 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 produced a sweatshirt version:



I sent one to Dr Ian Walker, a pro-bike blogger and British competitor in the World Wife Carrying Championships. He’s the academic from the University of Bath who used sensors and a video camera to measure how close cars passed him when cycling.

“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 Brian May wig to see if drivers give women (or hippie?) cyclists extra room when passing. Apparently, they do.

Dr Walker’s ‘polite’ sweatshirt may also gain him a couple of inches, if you get my drift. He said:

“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?”

Incidentally, the front of the ‘polite’ sweatshirt has a ‘one less car’ logo on the front:



If you like the sweatshirts, they are available on the UK and US Spreadshirt.com sites for £22.90 or $32.90.