Neon Reflex at work

FALL/WINTER 2021

Staying visible in low-light conditions

When temps drop and days get shorter, endurance athletes don’t cut down on their training hours. Instead, they adapt by adding layers or swapping bike components. Before the cold hits they mentally prepare themselves for challenging weather in order to run and ride through cold, sleet and snow. They also have to adapt to darker days. In winter months, runs and rides that used to begin and end with sunlight become daily routines of logging miles before dawn and finishing after dusk.

At GOREWEAR, we know that feeling confident, capable and free from distraction helps a runner or cyclist stay focused on their goal, so we set out to see how we could improve an athlete’s visibility while running or riding in low-light conditions.

Improving circumstances

When thinking about the circumstances — being active and on the road when it’s dark — we considered the environmental conditions and how the human eye registers information and sends it to the brain. We considered everyone who shares the road, not just athletes, but other pedestrians and motorists.

Low light conditions make it difficult for anyone to define objects. This especially comes into play when an athlete is on a road. We identified that being conspicuous is key, so with that as a starting point, we researched the distance it takes for any object to be recognized, along with how, and why, in order to improve the circumstances.

We worked on an integrated concept that helps an athlete be seen and recognized as a human shape to others, and developed a combination of high-visibility neon colors and reflective details to help athletes get noticed by marking their movement and presence on the road. To increase the “conspicuous” effect, we integrated three principles into our designs: oscillation, context and proximity.

Oscillating movements catch attention

The human eye notices movement. That’s why we placed neon colors and reflective details where there’s the most movement. On a bike, it’s where an athlete’s lower legs ascend and descend as their feet rotate pedals in a continuous circle. For runners, it’s where their arms swing back and forth.

Context creates comprehension

The human mind constantly looks for familiar stimuli; in low light conditions, when there’s less information, it looks for familiar shapes and silhouettes. Our placement of neon colors helps others identify the shape as human when it’s dark. Even if everything else is pitch black, cyclists and runners can be recognizable.

Proximity helps estimate distance

The sooner your eyes/brain recognize something, the faster you can process and understand what you’re seeing. Large objects are seen more quickly than small ones and help the brain estimate distance, especially when traveling at high speed.

We placed a high-visibility color on runners’ and cyclists’ backs. Because the back is a large part of the body and remains relatively stable, as a motorist gets closer, the back appears first, prompting recognition and awareness.

Designed to work as a system

Our collections for running and cycling are designed to work together to announce an athlete’s location on the road; neon and reflective details are coordinated from head to toe. Our jackets, tights, overshoes and gloves define an athlete’s movements from a distance, so they can focus on their goals, and on the road ahead.

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