Friday, February 14, 2014

It's good to be polite

Genuine British Police Officer
Confession, they say, is good for the soul.  Back in the 1980s I owned a plain white Ford Cortina. I also worked for a local authority, and the job required that I made frequent trips to construction sites in all weathers. So I got into the habit of throwing my bright fluorescent yellow jacket on whenever I drove the car. This was fine, right up until the day came when I was pulled over by the Kent Constabulary for both “Driving at 29mph in a 30mph zone” and “Resembling a Police Officer.”

I confess: I was indeed driving at 29mph. What speed would you have done when being tailed by a traffic cop in a 30mph zone? As for the other allegation, there was absolutely nothing that made me look like a traffic cop in an unmarked car beyond driving a plain white Ford and wearing a bright yellow jacket.

But I had wondered why the Porsches that came up behind me on motorways at enormous speed seemed suddenly to notice that they were accidentally exceeding 70mph, slammed on their brakes, and tucked in behind my Cortina at a sensible and law-abiding 69mph. It also now occurred to me why, when my car alarm accidentally malfunctioned while I was driving through Loughborough, the traffic parted like the Red Sea in front of a multitude of Israelites. Something to do with flashing headlights and an earsplitting  Bee-Doh-Bee-Doh klaxon. I’d bought the alarm secondhand, and didn’t know about the wire that should have been connected to prevent the thing going off when the engine was running.

Moving forward in time now, and I note that over the past 35 years, precious little has improved in the Department of Motorcycle Conspicuity. I have tried the Dayglo Derek approach; my current bike has 110 watts of unswitchoffable headlights; I’ve put reflective tape on the bodywork. Yet all seems to no avail. Motorbikes, because they’re smaller than Land Cruisers, are utterly invisible.

An ordinary fluorescent jacket with retroreflective stripes isn’t effective. Actually it is. It increases conspicuity by an astonishing margin, but other motorists apparently don’t give a shit. “They look, but they don’t see,” a grizzled old motorcycling instructor once told me.

Absolutely completely different from,
and definitely unlike, a Police uniform
But now, a supplier of safety gear in the UK has come up with a genius solution. started with equestrian gear – Dayglo for horses. They’ve now branched into motorcycle safety gear. The crucial difference between this new stuff and previous is some clever text on the back: “POLITE NOTICE – THINK BIKE” 

Funny how a small word that resembles at first glance the possibility of being prosecuted for a moving traffic offence is so much more effective than acres upon acres of Dayglo. And in the UK at least, it’s legal.

Dubai motorcycle cop
It’s pointless buying one of these tabards for use in Dubai. The desired effect wouldn’t happen here because the Plod looks significantly different.

However, there remains talk of Dubai Police adopting the black Kawasaki 1400GTR as weapon of choice, and if they do I’ll accidentally have a bike that looks exactly like theirs.


1 comment:

Martín said...

One has to wonder how those 1400GTRs will cope with the warm breeze of Dubai. I guess fans will get changed at tyre replacement? ;)


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