10 November 2010

High Visibility, Low Self Esteem

The hi-viz tabard of dreams

I am torn by a dilemma. I fancy myself as an urban cyclist - I diligently read Copenhagen Cycle Chic, I want Mikael to photograph me and wax lyrical about how cool I look cycling to work in the gentle morning light. I want to ride gloriously unencumbered by health and safety preoccupations, helmets or hi-viz tabard.

But, I also want to arrive at work safe and sound.

Although my ride is embarrassingly short, it does include one of the major entry roads into Cardiff, and there is no cycle infrastructure to speak of. There are, however, several lanes of cars, plenty of buses and a worryingly large number of big lorries. So now winter is upon us and dark nights and foggy mornings are the norm, I wear my hi-viz tabard. I hate it, I despise it, but I feel safer with it on. I know that by wearing it, I am associating myself with the respected trades people, delivery people, officials and stewards that are genuinely empowered by the tabard. I know that by wearing it, I am perpetuating the view of cycling as a dangerous minority activity only suitable for those with the correct equipment and ill-fitting tabard. I know that by wearing it, I am further putting off the day when seeing masses of elegant men and women cycling to work in Cardiff in their business attire would be normal rather than just a pipe dream.

But, I also want to arrive home safe and sound.

Better to believe then that the tabard represents my own hideously fluorescent attempt at a personal cycling infrastructure. I rely on the power of the tabard to keep traffic at bay and create a little bubble of Copenhagenesque cycling experience around me. How much simpler if the cycling infrastructure was there for me to use instead, and the tabard could revert to its true calling, clinging to the back of white-van man.

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