Reflections on a careless motorist

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taina
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Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:17 pm
Location: near Seattle

by taina

Yesterday my son and I were riding on some low-traffic suburban streets, single-file, me in back. He's 9. A motorist pulled up to a yield sign on a street that T's into the street we were on, well ahead of us. The motorist sat there a while making absolutely sure that no cars were coming (and maybe hoping for an engraved invitation to proceed) before pulling into our path, around 6 feet in front of my son. Short of reckless, but ill-advised. I don't think he was rushing to an appointment or practicing his Formula 1 skills or expressing his hatred of cyclists. My best guess is that he thinks of cyclists as pedestrians. After this my son and I will ride with lights, to make us more car-like.
Saura mon coeur que mon cul poise.

adapted from Rabelais

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kac
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by kac

I'm near Seattle, too and I always use lights for safety. Most motorists seem inattentive (at best) and oftentimes indifferent to cyclists: they pass too close, they drive to fast for conditions and they make too many assumptions. It's even worse when they apply these behaviors to kids on bikes. A couple of extra seconds and a bit more attention could avert an event that will make everyone sorry for many, many years. Using lights (in my opinion) helps a lot. Of course, I can't prove that, but it makes intuitive sense to me.

FIJIGabe
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by FIJIGabe

Sigh... welcome to the life of cyclists. I always use a light on my bike, even during group rides, and during the day. Anything to make me more visible.
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Powerful Pete
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by Powerful Pete

Do you believe that daytime running lights help (honest question)?
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rmerka
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by rmerka

I think it does indeed help you become more visible with a front and back blinky light even in the daylight. I'm 100% certain it doesn't hurt with your visibility to motorists...

taina
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Location: near Seattle

by taina

Referring to the incident in my original post, the motorist almost certainly saw us. He didn't know how to process our presence. I think it's similar to when I'm climbing on a twisty road and it's safe for a motorist to pass me, but he's afraid to have his wheel touch the painted lines in the middle of the road, and he honks furiously. The motorist hasn't been programmed to cope with cyclists on the road. Rather than apply common sense, he falls back on his programmed instructions, as in "yield to oncoming motor vehicles at a yield sign," and "stay strictly within the lane when there's a double line between lanes." Lights on bikes may help trigger motorists' common sense.
Saura mon coeur que mon cul poise.

adapted from Rabelais

FIJIGabe
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by FIJIGabe

I think a blinking light provides a slight improvement in visibility. Additionally, if something were to happen, no one can say that if I had had my light on, I would have been more visible. Light is on. Always.
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stella-azzurra
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by stella-azzurra

Teach your son how to avoid the situation by making evasive maneuvers rather than speculate if the motorist has seen you or not. Always assume that the motorist has not seen you.
If they are looking in your direction does not mean they have seen you, lights or no lights.
The phrase "He came out of nowhere" comes to mind.

Also some motorists cannot determine how quickly a cyclist is traveling towards them.
This is accentuated when traveling at night with a flashing light.
Although they have seen the flashing light they cannot judge how fast it's coming towards them
so they cut you off rather than wait for the light to pass by.
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kode54
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by kode54

taina wrote:Referring to the incident in my original post, the motorist almost certainly saw us. He didn't know how to process our presence. I think it's similar to when I'm climbing on a twisty road and it's safe for a motorist to pass me, but he's afraid to have his wheel touch the painted lines in the middle of the road, and he honks furiously. The motorist hasn't been programmed to cope with cyclists on the road. Rather than apply common sense, he falls back on his programmed instructions, as in "yield to oncoming motor vehicles at a yield sign," and "stay strictly within the lane when there's a double line between lanes." Lights on bikes may help trigger motorists' common sense.


a lot of incidents where i was riding along...car makes a right turn in front of me...not knowing what speed i am riding at. most are unaware of a cyclists speed in relation to the car they are driving, thinking always, that the car is moving faster than the bike and they can beat the cyclist before the intersection. happens more times than liked.
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legs 11
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by legs 11

I think Stella is right on the money there?
In most daytime accidents it's not about visibility per se, it's about people not realising how fast or from what direction you're coming.
Because of this I totally support Stella's view that it's about evasive riding and road craft rather than visibility.
I've been riding for a very long time and am also a keen motorcyclist, one thing I've come to recognise is that if you're involved in a collision you stand a very high risk of getting hurt....whether it be your fault or the car drivers. It's not a game of blame, or who was in the right or wrong of fitting super visibility additions etc.
A best solution by far is to not put yourself in a situation where a collision could occur in the first place. ;)
You see the car driver look, then check the other way, then look again and you can tell they're going to pull out even though they've seen you, they just plain old miscalculated your speed or just plain don't give a damn.
I have a 12 year old who rides a few miles into school every day come rain or shine summer or winter. I've tried to teach him to ride evasively and not let yourself get into a situation in the first place rather than put yourself at the risk of the ignorance of motorists.
Ride fast so as to go with the flow of traffic, ride way out from the gutter so it forces people to think rather than squeeze past and first and foremostly,.........never ever trust anybody in a car!!
It's all about confidence, education and practice....don't be a victim of poor driving, get right out there and give em hell...lol. :smartass:
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kac
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by kac

I can't speculate on the motives of car drivers but I'm sure they range from simple inattention to indifference to "give the bastard in lycra a scare". In any event, a bike light is cheap and it couldn't hurt. Naturally, it's not a magical talisman so I assume the worst and try to ride accordingly. Having noted all that, I do think lights are helpful.

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Mapei down under
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by Mapei down under

I think that lights help especially as you duck in and out of shadows as you are visible more readily rather than appearing and disappearing especially on a very sunny day where motorists pupils are fully constricted from the glare.
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Franklin
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by Franklin

kode54 wrote:a lot of incidents where i was riding along...car makes a right turn in front of me...not knowing what speed i am riding at. most are unaware of a cyclists speed in relation to the car they are driving, thinking always, that the car is moving faster than the bike and they can beat the cyclist before the intersection. happens more times than liked.


A friend of mine lost a year that way. Could be worse... Nowadays I always sit up and slow down even when having face contact. It's not worth it.

As most of us will have experienced the other way around, car's are not the best vantage points for viewing cyclists. Also, judging speeds under 30 mph is not that easy in an automobile. Lastly, darkness and/or rain make cyclists neigh invisible.

I do not own a car, but a month ago while being brought home by a friend through a rainstorm I realized how bad it is. My friend is a cyclist who really drives gently, but he almost missed a cylists who was sporting full lights. Just so many lights reflections (uncoming cars, reflection on the road, kaleidoscopic drops on his windshield) that the cylists lights went almost unnoticed. He commented; "and that's why I wear a full reflective top if I can't avoid darkness". I'm going to do the same thing.

nealrab
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by nealrab

Agreed on the blinker lights, everything helps. I don't ride at night anymore since I don't commute, but it was a scary proposition even on quieter streets. Not sure drivers really saw me since passing was always too close for comfort, but at least I survived it. Now I just worry about cans being heaved out of pickups.

by Weenie


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