Road.cc are reporting the arrival of a new bicycle helmet, the ‘Angel’ (so named, presumably, because it makes a cyclist more virtuous?) Here it is, in all its glory.
Below the story is a comment, which I can only assume was posted in all seriousness, from ‘MichaelS’ –
Great idea. As an assertive rider myself – with over 30 years commuting experience – I say you still need to be as visible as possible. Not that it will guarantee the idiots will see you – most of em too busy reading/composing text messages, chatting on mobile phones or simply not looking for a cyclist.
You’ll never know whether it will save your life or not because nobody will ever stop and say ‘do you know, if you hadn’t had that helmet with flashing lights I wouldn’t have seen you….’
There is a superficially attractive logic in operation here, but it hides a deeper problem – if you are intent on ‘making yourself as visible as possible’ to motorists, why simply stop at a helmet with a halo of flashing lights on it? Why not strap an enormous pylon with neon tubes to your back – that will really get a driver’s attention. Or a giant strobing sign saying ‘please don’t drive into me’?
Or – what happens when a great number cyclists are wearing ‘Angel’ helmets, or when the majority of pedestrians feel compelled to wear high-visibility vests? Woe betide the poor individual who ventures out of his front door in ordinary clothing – he or she is consequently at a much greater risk of being mown down (and quite probably being blamed for their lack of ‘safety equipment’).
The logic of this approach to ‘road safety’ – that the most vulnerable road users should continually escalate their visibility in the face of the increasing inattentiveness of drivers (the most protected road users, and the most potentially dangerous) – quite obviously chooses not to address the root problem, and at the same time selectively imposes a ‘solution’ on a particular subset of road users, the cyclists.
For instance, how often do you see adverts exhorting motorists to make their cars more visible by the application of day-glo strips? Or – how plausible would it be for a motorist to excuse himself after a collision with another vehicle, by claiming that the vehicle was covered in a dark shade of paint? People are simply expected to see cars, of whatever colour, with or without any neon strips attached to them.
Yet a cyclist, while smaller, is no harder to spot. Why should cycling be made more difficult and onerous, to compensate for the poor habits of people who should simply be paying more attention when operating a potentially lethal mode of transport?