Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby [XAP]Bob » 10 Dec 2017, 8:11am

Maybe we should be campaigning to get the brightness of motor vehicle lights reduced to the point where they don’t blind motorists...
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby eileithyia » 10 Dec 2017, 8:41am

[XAP]Bob wrote:Maybe we should be campaigning to get the brightness of motor vehicle lights reduced to the point where they don’t blind motorists...

Fully agree.
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby eileithyia » 10 Dec 2017, 8:46am

tatanab wrote:Maybe, just maybe, your incident had nothing to do with lights but more to do with where drivers look. Many, probably most of us, have had instances where motorist just miss hitting us and you can see the look of surprise on their face as we appear "from nowhere". What the motorist often does at junctions and roundabouts is look for approaching traffic at a distance that they can judge whether it is safe to proceed or not, but not necessarily assess anything closer such as a slower moving cyclist. This is because they expect, through experience, that anything closer to them will have gone. Just because a motorist is looking in your direction does not mean he has recognised you are there, the focus may well be some yards back down the road, in your case on the bus.

A problem which is highlighted in John Franklin's book is one of perspicuity. He says that with lights it is important to be perceived correctly, i.e as a pedal cycle that is close by not a motor cycle that is some distance away. How do we balance the different needs of competing with motor lights versus being perceived correctly. Of course some will say "a flashing light" which may be ok in urban areas but is not a lot of use at midnight on a dark lane. Daytime lights - don't get me started :roll:


Agreed, I quickly learnt about my blind spot shortly after I passed my driving test, when a cyclist appeared 'out of nowhere' in full daylight. I was cyclist before I took my test, It was a salutary lesson. As tatanab has said, many motorists do not always see cyclists through just not quite looking in the right place. Even with a variety of different front lights, i have still had to take evasive action from those who suddenly realised 'I had appeared out of nowhere'
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drossall
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby drossall » 10 Dec 2017, 9:19am

That's one of the reasons of course (only one) that current cycle safety training teaches cyclists not to ride in the gutter - because motorists emerging from junctions aren't looking in the gutter for hazards.

On lights, it is frustrating. I started cycling in the age when Never Ready lights were universal. We used to pack batteries round with cardboard (to stop them rattling the light to bits) and so on to cope with their design deficiencies. Modern bike lights are a world apart from those but, as our lights have improved, car lights have continued to get brighter too. That's largely been driven by weak regulations that were based on limiting the power input, whereas improving technology has given more light for less power.

There is evidence that cars with lights in daytime have fewer crashes, but nobody, I think, has studied whether the pedestrians and cyclists around those cars are safer, or whether car lights just say "Look at me!", to the detriment of everyone else who doesn't carry a large lead-acid battery everywhere. So, as a driver, I am reluctant to use day-time running lights.

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foxyrider
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby foxyrider » 10 Dec 2017, 9:32am

From personal observation a flashing light, even a bright one can very often lead to the bike disappearing in traffic if used alone. I only do so in say wet weather but daylight.

In low light/dark I always use a fixed light sometimes supplemented by a second on flashing mode. These are both fixed to the bike.

The other regular issue is the idea that you wear the lights on helmets/bags. This pretty much renders them useless and is of course breaking the law if it's your only lighting. I've even seen supposedly intelligent people (well they're at university anyway) with red front/white rear who then claim it's their choice and safer! For whom i'm not sure.

TBH I don't do a great deal of 'night' riding at present so i'm not currently running a night array 'just' a pair of bright battery lights - when I was doing a lot of night riding I was using a set of silly power rechargables (leds that got warm!) and to think I used to use a single Ever Ready with Duracells and think that adequate!

The issue has got worse as car light technology has improved as well, better lights has meant people drive faster in dark conditions too so the best safety improvement could be argued to be a reduction in car light output thus reducing speed! Sometimes more is actually less
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flat tyre
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby flat tyre » 10 Dec 2017, 10:01am

Let's hope that the OP has learnt from his mistake and will be looking for the possible cyclist before pulling out again!

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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby kwackers » 10 Dec 2017, 10:16am

As a cyclist I'm well aware I can be lost in the noise.
Hi vis is one of the worst culprits particularly under sodium street lighting, you'd be far better off in black or dark clothing.
When approaching a junction if I know there are cars behind me and a car waiting to turn out I prepare myself for that eventuality because I know my lights can get lost in the glare of the car behind.

The current design of car front lighting is appalling for this, there are point lights everywhere. It's fashionable to dot them in lines, circles, triangles etc all over the front of the car.
My light is just another point light and easily lost.

Throw in the propensity for car drivers to rush decisions and try to get the jump on the approaching car without considering there might be another vehicle between it and them and you have a problem.
Car design isn't going to change, motards like bling and lots of lights are bling so the manufacturers play up to them.
Bike lights imo esp cheap ones are very bright but not directional and imo cause other issues. Fitting 'good' car equivalent (aka motorcycle lights) isn't going to happen. Apart from the legality nobody is going to fit lights that need recharging every hour or carry a huge battery before you consider what such a system would cost.

Which leaves the source of the danger, the car pulling out.
Once we had public information films, they were generally good at raising awareness of issues like this. Although even if there were the political motivation to bring them back I suspect their primary focus would be about wearing helmets because poor driving is always best defended against by armouring yourself...

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!

Postby Lesaid » 10 Dec 2017, 10:25am

Lots of points!

Campaigning for car headlights not to be dazzlingly bright - fully agree - and I speak as a dazzled car driver as well as as a cyclist! But, it isn't as simple as that - cars too need to see where they are going on unlit roads - so are we saying they need three headlight settings? Urban, unlit dipped, and unlit-full-beam? It isn't going to happen any time soon! I also find that full-beam is usually useless because it is seldom that there is not some oncoming traffic - so most nighttime driving has to be on dipped headlights. So dipped headlights have to be bright enough to drive by. Relying on 'sidelights' to be seen isn't good enough against the inevitable clutter of lights from other vehicles, shop fronts, street lights and whatever else.

I sometimes wonder whether if car windscreens were partially vertically polarised, and headlights had horizontally polarized beams, they would be naturally dimmed for oncoming traffic, while still being as bright as necessary to light the way for the driver. I wouldn't object, as a cyclist, to wearing polarised (not 'dark' !!) glasses when I'm cycling on busy roads in the dark. But that isn't going to happen any time soon either.


On where motorists look for cyclists - good point. However, it is well known that human vision can only see really clearly on a very small patch in the centre of the field of view. Which is why, if you're searching for (say) a distant plane in the sky, or looking to find a distressed swimmer in the sea, you have to scan the area of view slowly and methodically, or you will miss the person/object even though your gaze might pass right over them! I think it is the same when looking for a barely visible 'pinpoint' white cycle light against a sea of car headlights. To have even a good chance of seeing it, one would have to methodically search the 'gap in the traffic' for that barely visible light, taking a good few seconds over it at least. By that time, the gap will have passed by and the opportunity to pull out into the traffic will have gone!

So are we saying that it is never possible for a car to pull out of a side road onto a busy two-lane main road without waiting for a size of gap that never happens in the rush hour? That is unrealistic too! We (cyclists) surely have a duty to be as visible as possible, and definitely enough to draw attention to ourselves against that backdrop of headlights, not just be theoretically visible if the driver concentrates his attention on exactly the right spot!!!


I notice that the vast majority of posts in this thread have the tacit or explicit presumption that 'it is all the driver's fault'. I personally find that the majority of drivers give me (as a cyclist) plenty of room and are very courteous. But I do avoid busy main roads as much as possible which may be partly why. It is tempting to claim the moral high ground and assert that it is the cyclists legal right to be on this road and that whatever we do (within traffic laws) is fine and motorists just have to accommodate it. That is also unreaslistic and unhelpful. And irrelevant to the cyclist injured in an accident because a motorist took a different view!


There isn't a 'magic bullet' solution here, other than to keep cars and cyclists apart, and that isn't going to happen any time soon either! So why not do the most we can, either to avoid being in such circumstances, or making sure we're as visible as possible (as well as encouraging good driver behaviour). Forget legalities and moral high ground - it is in our self-interest as cyclists!

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Re: !

Postby tatanab » 10 Dec 2017, 10:32am

Lesaid wrote:cars too need to see where they are going on unlit roads - so are we saying they need three headlight settings? Urban, unlit dipped, and unlit-full-beam?
We did have just that in the not distant past. Early 80s - remember "dim dip"? Introduced for urban use so that everybody had the same lights versus the range of side lights and dipped beams at the time. It did not last long - perhaps a last hurrah of British motoring before the EU dictated.

edit correcting typo.

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John1054
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby John1054 » 10 Dec 2017, 10:42am

During my previous life, whilst driving fire appliances with high power flashing blue lights, flashing headlamps, siren blaring etc. there always were a few drivers and pedestrians who didn't see me. Power of lighting increasing didn't make any difference to awareness? It appears that there are times when vision doesn't connect with our brains and consequently our actions.

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gaz
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby gaz » 10 Dec 2017, 10:45am

Lesaid wrote:For bicycle lights - I think there is no excuse for cycling with illegally dim or non-existent lighting, regardless of whether it actually results in an accident. BUT - it is also foolhardy to cycle with lights which while technically legal, are not bright enough to be safe. As a motorist, I do not want to get hit with a 'causing death by dangerous driving' kind of charge because a reckless or thoughtless cyclist was travelling with legal but inadequate lights for the situation.

If the judgement of the adequacy of a cyclist's lights is to be made by the motorist who failed to see them and pulled out causing an accident, then the cyclist will never have had bright enough lights.

You may believe that the use of lights that meet all legal requirements under RVLR could be "reckless and thoughtless", I believe that accepting such statements are another step to a slightly fatter bit of the wedge.

Lesaid wrote:So what is wrong with expecting cyclists to use common sense to protect themselves and others wherever they can?

The common sense of making sure that your cycle's lighting meets legal requirements or some other form of common sense? Common sense has no evidence base, RVLR does.

Lesaid wrote:I do think that the fundamental problem is our road system - and that on some roads, it simply is too dangerous for cars and cycles to be mixing together, given human nature and fallibility. No amount of legal whatnots, or complaining about the behaviour of the other side is going to change that. So cyclists, who draw the short straw in accidents, need to go 'above and beyond' to stay safe.

Cyclists present very little danger to any other road user. They pose very little danger to themselves. The responsibility for cyclists safety lies overwhelmingly with the drivers of motor vehicles, the operators of heavy dangerous machines that need a licence to be used in public.

All the time that road safety remains focused on the supposed need for cyclists to go 'above and beyond' in order to 'stay safe' there will be no progress.
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby Lesaid » 10 Dec 2017, 10:50am

A question - I don't have an answer - but I think it is at the root of a lot of cyclist safety issues ....

consider a two-lane main road without a cycle-lane. There is not generally room for a car, or worse, a bus or lorry, to overtake the cyclist without moving into the outside lane, which is already full of traffic with no gaps. The choice the driver has is (a) to go past anyway, forcing the cyclist into the gutter and risking an accident, (b) barge into the outside lane, forcing cars in that lane to jam on the brakes, or (c) slow down to the speed of the cyclist until there is room in the outside lane to move into. If it is not possible for the driver to move out immediately and he has to slow down, it then becomes MUCH harder to move out to pass the cyclist - and to be let in, causes the traffic in the outside lane to have to slow suddenly right down too, if only for a moment. All this, however, causes congestion back down the lane(s), and a stream of frustrated drivers (who won't know why the traffic has suddenly slowed right down).

If there are a lot of cyclists, the road ceases to be effective as an arterial road carrying rush-hour traffic efficiently!

So - from the perspective of the rush hour motorist - and the general traffic management systems - an objective is to minimise congestion and get as many vehicles along the available roadspace as possible. This is directly contrary to the perspective of the cyclist who wants to use the road as he wishes and if that is inconvenient to 'inconsiderate' drivers, that's tough luck and they'd better get used to it!

How is this to be resolved in a realistic way, allowing for the fact that we will not change fundamental human nature of either cyclist or motorist!



Is there any real difference (other than overall speed) between a fit and experienced cyclist averaging (say) 25 mph in traffic that is going at a legal speed limit of 40 mph, or a less-fit cyclist meandering along at 5-10 mph on a slower single lane with oncoming traffic that prevents or delays drivers from overtaking him safely?

What solution is possible that is reasonable to both sides of this problem? Only solution I can see is provision of dedicated cycle lanes with enforcement that they should not be blocked by parked or pausing vehicles, or separate cycle routes. And that requires serious investment that is also unlikely to happen!

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gaz
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby gaz » 10 Dec 2017, 11:42am

The answer to your question is (c). It doesn't matter if it's a cyclist, a street sweeping machine or a broken down car occupying the space in lane one. If it is not safe to overtake, don't overtake. The same applies to any other manoeuvre, only start it if you can complete it safely.

Lesaid wrote:If there are a lot of cyclists, the road ceases to be effective as an arterial road carrying rush-hour traffic efficiently!

So - from the perspective of the rush hour motorist - and the general traffic management systems - an objective is to minimise congestion and get as many vehicles along the available roadspace as possible. This is directly contrary to the perspective of the cyclist who wants to use the road as he wishes and if that is inconvenient to 'inconsiderate' drivers, that's tough luck and they'd better get used to it!

How is this to be resolved in a realistic way, allowing for the fact that we will not change fundamental human nature of either cyclist or motorist!

The efficient use of road space is about moving people, not vehicles.

If you take every one of those 'a lot of cyclists' and put them into their own cars instead what do you think it will do to congestion?

Lesaid wrote:Is there any real difference (other than overall speed) between a fit and experienced cyclist averaging (say) 25 mph in traffic that is going at a legal speed limit of 40 mph, or a less-fit cyclist meandering along at 5-10 mph on a slower single lane with oncoming traffic that prevents or delays drivers from overtaking him safely?

There is no difference. In both cases it is the volume of motor traffic that prevents safe overtaking, not the presence of a cyclist.

Lesaid wrote:What solution is possible that is reasonable to both sides of this problem?

The problem doesn't have two sides. Congestion is a problem, remove the vehicles that use road space inefficiently and cause the congestion. Pollution is a problem, remove the source of the pollutants. KSIs are a problem, remove the source of the danger.
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby Lesaid » 10 Dec 2017, 3:23pm

gaz ... of course the answer is 'c'. The difference between cyclists and street sweeping machines is that street sweeping machines avoid operating on busy roads during the rush hour - and broken down cars are very rare. The commonest cause of hold-ups are buses stopping at bus stops - but they are less of a problem because in general you can see a bus several hundred yards ahead and have plenty of time to change lanes to pass it long before catching up with it.

If you take every cyclist currently using the high-speed busy roads near where I live, and put them in cars - it would probably ease the congestion slightly because their numbers are insignificant in comparison to the number of cars on the road, and it would remove the occasional holdups from queues of traffic stuck behind cyclists (who are doing nothing wrong - they're just a lot slower than the vast majority of the traffic). In ordinary rush hour urban roads however (as opposed to higher speed arterial routes), the speed of the traffic is similar to that of serious cyclists, and there is no real problem (apart sometimes from visibility).

It is certainly the volume of traffic that prevents safe overtaking, as you said. But what do you do about it? It is easy to say - force all the motorists to become cyclists. But that is never going to happen (nor would it be possible) , and however satisfying that aspiration might seem to a cyclist, it is unhelpful. Another solution could be to introduce speed limits that prevent cars from going faster than the average cyclist. That would solve the overtaking problem, but probably make the congestion as a whole far worse!

I think the real solution lies in changing our lifestyles so that we don't need to travel so much in the first place. But that requires long term urban planning and cultural change, which isn't going to happen either in a hurry.

Building more roads won't help in the long term, demand just rises to fill the increased capacity.

"KSI's are a problem - remove the source of the danger" ?? ok - one of the biggest causes of danger on the roads is the unexpected happening. What is unexpected is sudden hold-ups due to the occasional vehicle (often a bike) travelling at a radically different speed to the general traffic flow. So remove bikes !!! Just as rational as 'removing cars' !! That kind of argument is a waste of time that just encourages a 'them-and-us' attitude and it can be spun in favour of either side. I don't know what the answers are, but I am certain they have to come from cooperation and mutual appreciation of the different needs of the various groups of road users. I would favour hard campaigning in favour of cycle-friendly road layouts and routes, and aggressive enforcement of laws to prevent vehicles blocking cycle lanes - especially on high-speed (e.g. 40 mph) roads. I'd also campaign to separate cycles from tram tracks!


This is not of course directly related to the lighting and visibility issue, but it is equally important and part of the bigger problem.

What I really don't get, is the mood coming over from some of the posts in this thread, that the problem is all the motorists fault so they need to fix they're behaviour or become cyclists themselves while we continue to cycle at night in the dark with hard-to-see front lights. Regardless of where you consider the fault to be - surely it is in our (the cyclists) interests to do what we can to be obviously and clearly visible. A cyclist righteously standing on his pride and blaming the motorist isn't going to save his life when someone doesn't see him in the dark. Regardless of whose 'fault' the accident actually was!

rant over! my apologies for the length of that post!

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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby kwackers » 10 Dec 2017, 4:26pm

Lesaid wrote:What is unexpected is sudden hold-ups due to the occasional vehicle (often a bike) travelling at a radically different speed to the general traffic flow.

Unexpected?
How can a slow moving vehicle be unexpected? Further up you were suggesting buses weren't a problem because you can see them miles up the road and move out, so why then can't you see a bike?
(I'm beginning to suspect you simply have a problem seeing bikes... ;) )