*MythBusters: Utility Cycling Requires Special Gear*
No special cycling gear is needed for utility cycling
The current emphasis on hi-viz and other special cycling safety gear being promoted as de rigueur for even a trip to the shops may be counterproductive, and off-putting to many potential bike users.
The subconscious message that cycling is a dangerous activity is being unwittingly promoted by the plethora of safety gear now being deemed essential equipment for a bike ride. In fact cycling is statistically a very safe activity and can be done in normal clothing.
Some choose to dress up: is it really necessary?
More people cycling (no matter what they choose to wear when riding a bike) means safer cycling for everyone. Getting more people to regard cycling as an easy and sensible option they can choose to get from A to B, is one of the most important things that can be done to improve road safety.
If more people are to start to cycle for short journeys, it must be regarded as a normal everyday activity suitable for undertaking in normal everyday attire. Nearly 25% of car journeys in the UK are for 2 miles or less, yet this is an ideal cycling trip distance for anyone to undertake. However, fear and the erroneous perception that cycling is a dangerous activity are the main reasons for people persisting with those short car journeys. 40% own a cycle and would like use it to replace short car trips, but 47% strongly agreed with the statement that “the idea of cycling on busy roads frightens me” with a further 27% tending to agree.
It is interesting to note that in countries with high utility cycling where no special safety equipment is thought necessary, there is better cycle safety.
Each person should be free to choose the type of attire that they feel comfortable in to cycle. Safety gear should be regarded as a matter of personal choice rather than a necessity for utility cycling.