Visibility is always on a cyclist’s mind. No matter how hard a cyclist tries, there is no guarantee that any given motorist will notice something far from his mind.
Lights, clothes, and reflective gear all play a role in creating visibility. But, the element of invisibility predominates in a cyclist’s world.
To that end…
Somewhere on the side of a road, a bicycle sits locked to a pole, with multiple locks, to thwart all but the most cunning of thieves.
Tattooed with neon yellow decals, in all shapes and sizes, it dares someone to try to get away with moving it. By way of a visual assault, the screaming yellow vexes all who cross its path. Who could not see this deformed monstrosity? And, who would have guessed that it came to be by chance?
One day, the owner was riding down a busy city street. As he rode, he watched the cars like a hawk. They drifted past him like crinkled, crisp late fall leaves, swirling through the air in fits and turns, never signaling or giving any clue as to their direction.
Braking and accelerating, he dodged through thick traffic, sure that his movements would catch the motorists’ eyes. But he was deluding himself. The motorists were in a hurry. Their eyes sought out minuscule openings between cars, hoping to make quick maneuvers to get ahead. Every inch counted in this contest against time, against the skill and agility of other motorists. Driving had become a competition and being first was more important than being safe.
At a particularly fateful moment, the cyclist assessed an intersection for safety. No cars were entering from the cross road. The coast was clear.
Just as he began to accelerate, a car, in the race of its life, hurtled through the intersection against the light – caring for neither life nor limb. Its movement mimicked a maniacal machine racing against a chimerical clock.
It caught the cyclist on the front wheel’s right side, spinning him around until his bike faced the same direction as the car. The force of the impact threw him sideways. His body peeled away from the bike; his unclipped shoes slid off of firm platforms; his arms flailed wildly in an attempt to guide him to safety.
As his body slammed into the asphalt, he wondered, in an instant, whether the oncoming cars would see him in the road. Visions of bones crushing under the weight of cruising wheels flashed before his eyes. Would he be flattened on that road, like the roadkill he always carefully steered around?
His hip scraped across uneven ground while his forearm served as a rudder. All around him brakes screeched. The sound of clunking metal filled his ears as cars swerved to avoid the object in the road. Instinctively, he covered his head to deflect unconsciousness. No matter what happened, he wanted to know.
When it was all over, he wondered why the car had not seen him. He had done everything right. He had outfitted his bike with front and rear lights – and wore bright clothes – yet he remained invisible.
That day, he vowed to find a way to make himself visible to all the world. He would create the most inattention proof bicycle – a bike so bright that it could knock your eye out both in motion and at rest. But while catching the eye, it would not attract thieves. It would blindingly glow in repulsive hideousness.
He searched far and wide for an old, unappealing bike. Once found, hours were spent cutting out shapes from reflective material and carefully applying them to every inch of the frame until the original paint could barely be seen. The bike became a rolling advertisement for reflectivity.
One ghastly encounter with a car can drastically change a cyclist’s perspective. Thus, from the purview of frustration and fear, the high-vis beater bike was born.