Friday, November 20, 2015

Retroreflective Is All I Can See

Fiks:Reflective Pedal Reflective T Shirt

The dark gray bands on this coat by Heisel gleam with white light.

Medium gray polka dots are white when hit by light for a truly eye-catching pair of socks.

I appreciate the seasonal quality of ICNYSport's catalog.

This is part of their collaboration with Puma that includes tops, pants, jackets, and a bag.

ICNYSport seems to favor the 5 panel style over the cyling cap, but that's ok.

This jacket by is discreet by day, impossible to overlook at night.

Aptly named, the "Blazing Blouse."

Preparing for winter riding has had me thinking about being out in the dark and cold, but it hasn't really been cold in coastal Virginia. That just leaves me with, "dark," and it seems that everywhere I look online, I see reflective stuff. In my last post, almost all of the products were coming from makers on the other side of the pond. This go-round, all the companies are based in the USA, specifically Pittsburg and New York City.

Fiks:Reflective produces a variety of reflective products most of which go on your bike. I'll be discussing those at a later date. For now, my favorite tee shirt from their collection is pictured at the top of this post and until today I could've worn it with no need for a jacket (Virginia weather is crazy right now). Perhaps they'll come out with a matching hoodie in the future.

I think a Google Alert brought Heisel to my attention. I was impressed by the stylish eco-felt coat— I didn't even know there was such a thing as eco-felt. This is an investment piece priced at a premium like many things in New York. If you're not ready for that level of commitment or expenditure, it appears that Ms. Heisel has recently released a microfiber tee with moisture wicking technology and long, patterned, reflective sleeves. There are also socks— that holiday gift staple— given a mission and a little street style with big, reflective, gray polka dots.

ICNYSport puts their retroreflective touch on everything from apparel and outerwear to hats, gloves, and iPhone cases. In a major move, they've collaborated with Puma on a winter collection. I'm a fan of a silver sneaker; I always have to have a pair in my closet. I guess it's because they're metallic, but not as ostentatious as gold. The Puma x ICNY R698 All Reflective is available in silver while the R698 Reflective comes in three colors with reflective piping.

I've been a fan of Vespertine from the start and I'm thrilled to see Sarah Canner expand her line in such a conscious and beautiful way. The price points across her jewelry and accessories lines put haute réflecture within everyone's grasp. There are dresses, outerwear, blazers, and button-downs appropriate for the office as well as vests that wouldn't look out of place in Times Square on New Year's Eve. I'm greatly impressed by how demure the windowpane print is in daylight and how brightly it shines in headlights. I also love the variety and versatility of the jewelry line.

There's enough reflective product here for you to glow from head to toe. Several years ago, trying to pull off such a look would've probably had you looking ridiculous. Now you just look like any other put-together person and that's brilliant.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Visibility and Responsibility: Part II

I would love to be able to say, "Now that all road users understand their responsibilities, let's move onto the fun stuff," but I know that one blog post isn't going to enlighten (forgive the pun) all of the drivers we encounter. Still, as we do our best to be seen, let's give folks something to look at. In fact, there are both sights and sounds that we can use to get drivers' attention at night.

I like killing two birds with one stone and I love getting a deal. A warm, reflective hat will do both of those things over the coming shorter, colder days.

Ile AiYe is a shop featuring "easy, casual knitwear," on Etsy. As a lover of good slouchy beanies, I had to include this item even though there's no picture of it in the dark. The maker, Cherylline, told me that the reflective material is 1 mm thick and blends in with yarn so as not to be scratchy. She also says the yarn comes in 16 colors— shades of blue, orange, yellow, green, red, pink, black, and gray.

You must really check out the Etsy shop, kanape, to see what this hat looks like in daylight. The hats appear to be just the same as the ones you'd pick up from Old Navy or Target, but— surprise— they're full of retroreflective fibers. They're also handmade in Lithuania and constructed of wool or a wool/acrylic blend.

On The Glo is on Kickstarter right now (fully funded) selling woolen and vegan hats, headbands, snoods, and pom poms. Of course I appreciate all of the items that can keep me warm, but I really like the pom poms. I figure you could buy two and pin them to your gloves to make your hand signals more visible. I also like the idea of using the pom poms as a bag charm on my pannier (another Kickstarted product).

Phoibe is a Kickstarter project that has only 10% of its funding which is a shame because I think the designer is full of intriguing ideas. There are products pictured in her campaign that I'm really interested in buying that aren't even on offer! Two of the highlights that you can buy are pictured above. The clever pins feature fireflies and the headband tied in Marc Jacob bunny ears fashion here could also be tied like a turban headband, perfect for hiding helmet hair.

I must include these colorful pins from Po Campo. You've seen them before in many reflective product round-ups, but now they're available at 25% off. Use the code "Reflect." Considering that they come in packs of two, that's a real steal.

I love the punk rock aesthetic of House of Astbury. Once upon a time, I knew a bike-shop-owning Anglophile who would've been the first American stockist of this cheeky line, but his shop is no more. Surely, there is someone else who feels all cyclists should have access to reflective bandanas and "Thunder Thighs" leggings. This brand is not only stylish, but focused on functionality and quality. A friendly e-mail to HoA provided me with a lot of information about what goes into their leggings— scuba material that has 4-way stretch and keeps its shape as well as attention to fit, fit for cyclists of all shapes and sizes. House of Astbury leggings come in XS-XXL with a high, snug waist that fully covers your backside while riding. They will even alter the leggings for you if your height or figure requires it.

I've merely scratched the surface of stylish, hi-viz accessories for your person; I haven't even touched on the things you could get for your bike! (Perhaps a part three is in order?) In the course of putting this post together, I've seen everything from these simple gloves that are 40% with promo code "wow" to these boldly graphic ankle straps to this DIY video on how to make relective wristbands. However you choose to adorn yourself this season, just be sure to shine brightly. You may also want to try being loud by ringing your bell or blowing a whistle Portlandia style to alert drivers to stops and turns.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Visibility and Responsibility: Part I

I recently had my eye on a Kickstarter campaign that was cancelled. This isn't an extraordinary incident-- I've seen it happen before. This time, I believe, was a bit unusual. The idea behind TurnCycle, the gesture controlled bike light that signals left or right, is a good one. I've wondered how well drivers can see my hand signals at night. Are their headlights sufficient? Are they even paying enough attention to notice my hand signals? A turn signal for my bike would be a nice compliment to the measures I already take to make myself visible to cars. I doubt I'm alone in that idea, but TurnCycle reached a little more than 6% funding.

If you watch the video for TurnCycle, the failure of the campaign and the reason for its cancellation becomes quite obvious. It's completely tone deaf to the reality of cyclists. The light's creator says she was spurred to action by the "many bicyclists that have met with a motorist." She was moved by the patients she encountered as a physical therapist to try to help prevent the injuries that will cause them to "suffer for a long, long time." In just seconds, she manages to make cycling sound dangerous and motorists sound blameless for the collisions that have brought her clients to her. She goes on to say, "If these bicyclists could've been seen better and if the motorists would've known what they were doing, we could've probably prevented all of these injuries."

Now, I don't know about y'all, but when a vehicle ahead of me in the road is doing something I can't quite predict, I tend to hang back until I can recognize what they're going to do. In fact, it seems completely irrational to plow into a human being on a bike because you're not sure of which way he or she is turning. Does the uncertainty drive the motorist mad or something? And I'm sure the cyclists in question are taking adequate measures to be seen. This project is coming out of the bike-friendliest city in America-- Minneapolis, Minnesota-- where I'm sure cyclists can find all kinds of reflective, glowing, and blinking goods for their bikes and persons. Blaming cyclists for not being visible enough isn't the way to distinguish yourself in the marketplace.

According to an update from TurnCycle's creator, she wants to hear from the public about improvements that could be made to the product (not the campaign) in order to foster the success of her venture next go round. Not knowing how long it will take this woman to get it, I suggest you explore your options. The second part of this post will feature many of the lights, bike accessories, clothing items, and clothing accessories that I find useful or unique. (I also have some interesting hi-viz finds here). In the meantime, a discussion about driver accountability would be incredibly beneficial to all road-users.