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Petition to ban Polite hi-vis vest

hi-vis vest High Visibility Polite Think Bike impersonating police

A petition to ban the use of a hi-vis vest with “POLITE” on the back has been started in the UK, saying it is “pretend police wear”.

When we published an article about the British-designed “Polite Notice Think Bike” waistcoat becoming available in Australia a year ago, it inflamed a lot of negative comment about promoting mandatory hi-vis and the legality of impersonating a police officer.

The vests haven’t become very popular here, but they are apparently ubiquitous in the UK where they have been on sale for more than six years.

While the petition is concerned about the vests making riders look like police, the UK constabulary is not concerned and has not arrested anyone for impersonating an officer. We also have no record of anything similar in Australia.

Riders who wear them claim the vests attract the attention of the traffic with motorists making way for them in the mistaken belief they are police. It has also been claimed they may prevent road rage.

Queensland Police hi-vis vest
Look familiar?

Some riders are more concerned that a proliferation of such vests among riders will give authorities more drive to make them mandatory.

Victoria already requires novice riders to wear a hi-vis vest and France has introduced a rule where riders have to carry a hi-vis vest with them.

Many riders believe it is unfair to place the burden of visibility on riders when cars don’t have to be painted in luminous colours.

But there is also a shadow of doubt over their efficacy of hi-vis as a safety device.

Professor Richard Huggins of the University of Melbourne says he was hit by a car while wearing hi-vis clothing.

He has reviewed several studies on motorcycle conspicuity and “look but fail to see” accidents and says there is “sufficient doubt” of the effectiveness of hi-vis to call for a repeal of the mandatory requirement in Victoria.

hi-vis vest
The British version


Prof Huggins has a number of concerns about motorcyclists wearing hi-vis clothing:

  • They may impart a false sense of security for novice riders;
  • Modern research shows that people don’t recognise or react to motorcycles, rather than not seeing them at all;
  • Drivers are more likely to see a bike but make an error in timing; and
  • All bikes have hard-wired headlights yet no research has been done on how this affects hi-visibility.

Prof Huggins says that if hi-vis is a real safety issue, why are there no greater penalties for drivers who crash into people wearing them?

Meanwhile, the POLITE vest has been available in Australia through Xenonoz for $79.95, but the website is now under construction and we don’t know the current price or availability situation.

  1. Think you would have to be careful wearing these vests in Australia. Vaguely remember that the blue and white check can only be used by Police (at least in NSW). It is against the law for anyone other than Police to wear it.

  2. Mark you didn’t say what the real reason is that the petitioner gives for wanting to ban the vests:

    …” It is destroying the cool biker look”…


    He’s managed to gather just 500 signatures which is abysmally low by standards.

  3. Around here the cops would have you on “impersonating a police officer” if you wore that with the Sillitoe tartan.

  4. I wear one, and have had it checked out by the Highway police.
    There is NO LAW that says you can not wear it in N.S.W it is perfectly legal and safe.
    I have challenged at least six officers to book me, after being questioned on the “impersonating a Police officer” argument, and all have declined, promising to check it out and get back to me.
    Not one of them did. No part of the garment has the word police on it.
    The Police do not have exclusive rights to use of clothing, or anything else with blue and white checks on it.

    Rest assured, you are perfectly entitled to wear this item in Australia…or anywhere else for that matter.

    1. And you’ve been pulled over how many times?
      your bike would want to be roadworthy
      is it really worth the hassle from the cops ?
      not to mention giving the shits to a whole lot
      of riders and drivers out who reckon are
      more than enough of the real ones out there
      without some clown playing ‘dress ups’

    2. Have a look at Section 203 of the NSW Police Act.
      With only one letter of difference (T instead of C), the vest it might come under the following definition – part (b).
      “police uniform” means the uniform of a police officer, and includes:
      (a) any parts of such a uniform (or any accoutrements of a police officer) that are generally recognised as parts of the uniform or accoutrements of a police officer, or
      (b) any reasonable imitation of such a uniform, parts of a uniform or accoutrements.”
      That a number of HWP have said that they will check… Be careful. One just might find this legislation.

      1. As with all legislation it is ambiguously worded enough that a security guard uniform or even dark blue pants and a light blue shirt would be sufficient to get you charged for impersonating a police officer.
        Then you would have to hope that the judge is not having a hang em all day.

  5. If we all have to wear these deveices, (of doubtful use), will that mean that car drivers can’t use the old SMIDSY defence ???

  6. Jeesus…………. In some parts of OZ, you may as well be wearing a target on your back!!

  7. Have too many friends? Like riding alone but wish you met more police than the average rider? There’s this fantastic hi-vis Polite vest that solves your problems!! Going soon for a very cheap price on eBay. Armour not included. Be sure your inbox is clear ready for hate mail, even from the local plod.

  8. I seem to remember that the use of the checker patten was an offence. I remember the UK Police had it copyrighted. Australian Police had to get permission to use it when they adopted the design for their respective uniforms and gear. It now seems to be used by everyone.

    1. UK police copyrighted the Checker Pattern… So race track flags and chessboards were all committing copyright infringement?

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