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

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

Postby Lesaid » 10 Dec 2017, 8:38pm

Tizme wrote:Please excuse me if I do not feel sympathy for you, speed limits are just that, not targets, just because you can drive at 40mph in a 40 zone does not mean it is safe to do so, far too many drivers seem to believe that as long as they are not breaking the speed limit they are "safe"


Not sure who you don't feel sympathy for - I agree totally with your point, as would most people reading this thread, I think.

Tell me though - how is that different in principle from the point I was making earlier about lights. Several posts earlier in this thread have as much as said that because a particular level of light output for a flashing front light is legal, then it must be safe and it is all that the cyclist needs to provide. Any incidents caused by a motorist not seeing them 'must' therefore be the fault of the motorist!!!!!

I know you didn't say this yourself - but perhaps those who did express that view might like to revise their opinion, or explain how their view of lights is different in principle from your point about dangerously fast motorists?

Tizme wrote:Most of the stupid, reckless cyclists will become/are already, stupid, reckless drivers, but then, instead being the ones injured, they will be the ones doing the injuring.


Yes indeed ! But 'most' of the drivers, in my experience, are sensible, safe and considerate to cyclists. It is a minority that give the majority a bad name. And I'm sure the reverse is also true. The difference is in the consequences where the cyclist so often draws the 'short straw'!

But I feel this discussion is starting to go round in circles. I don't believe we will solve this problem without a more fundamental cooperation, and investment in carefully planned infrastructure, and when we eventually do, it will be in spite of the 'them-and-us' attitude, rather than because of it.

Looking at this thread so far, there have been only one or perhaps two posts(I think) that rather grudgingly accepted that I might have a point about inadequate front lighting on busy roads. All the rest have been critical of that position, or in other respects, finding reasons to blame motorists for everything. To me - adequate front lighting is a no-brainer safety precaution (with some caveats about not dazzling oncomers) - I don't understand why that point has encountered such implacable resistance! But I think it is valuable that the topic has been aired, regardless of whether we end up agreeing or not :)

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

Postby drossall » 10 Dec 2017, 8:39pm

The utility cyclist:

Ah. Maybe it was the old issue; for reasons of practicality, legislative measures are introduced in packages that are not necessarily closely related - maybe lights, brakes and tweaks to the road rules all in one go*.

Then the measures are evaluated one at a time, and the entire effect of the whole package is assumed to result from whichever individual measure is being evaluated at any given moment.

* Although of course not all those require primary legislation in our country

Warin61
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby Warin61 » 10 Dec 2017, 8:46pm

drossall wrote: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.

Evidence from Australia for motorcycles with lights on in daytime. => No change.

This evidence comes from a politician who had the law changed to make daytime lights on applied to all new motorcycles. They removed headlight switches and the bikes were wired so that the rider had no option but to have the lights on. Years later the crash stats were analysed - no change. The law was repealed. This is a real world test. And daytime lights on failed to may any statistically valid improvement.

drossall ... what is your source of this 'evidence', please?

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

Postby drossall » 10 Dec 2017, 9:13pm

Apologies. This was a reference from a previous discussion,. long lost. I was attempting to recognise that the case for DRLs is not entirely without merit, whilst expressing my own lack of enthusiasm - but the risk, of course, is of creating urban myth by failing to cite a source. It was some time ago, and I imagine that the reference was to the EC reports.

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

Postby The utility cyclist » 10 Dec 2017, 9:31pm

"This is the third statistical analysis conducted by NHTSA to evaluate the effectiveness of daytime running lights (DRLs)…the analysis found that DRLs have no statistically significant overall effects" NHTSA technical report HS 811 029 https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Pu ... ion/811029
"there are critics of daytime running lights who say:"

Many of the studies that found daytime running lights offered a significant safety benefit were conducted in Canada, Norway, and Denmark, where light levels are different compared to the rest of Europe and North America.
Many of the studies used relatively small samples.
Many of the studies were conducted as other safety features were added. Anti-lock braking systems, for example, were being added to vehicles at the same time that daytime running lights where being tested.

It all sounds so familiar, seat-belts, helmets etc

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

Postby 661-Pete » 10 Dec 2017, 9:32pm

This thread reminds me of the very incident that prompted me to re-join this forum, back in 2012. I was cycling along a moderately well-lit road when an approaching car suddenly turned right into my path, knocking me off (but not seriously injuring me). I had a fairly bright front lamp on steady (not one of your modern dazzlers, mind!) and was wearing hi-viz. The driver of another approaching car, about 100 yards further back, told me that she could see my light perfectly. The person who hit me, evidently could not.

I can only surmise that some motorists can 'see' and 'not see', simultaneously. Oxymoron that may be - but it happens! The one who hit me was clearly one such. So - possibly - is the OP of this thread.

My assailant was interviewed by the police and eventually sent on a 'driver awareness' course. A gentle hint....
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drossall
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby drossall » 10 Dec 2017, 9:46pm

661-Pete wrote:I can only surmise that some motorists can 'see' and 'not see', simultaneously. Oxymoron that may be - but it happens!

I don't think it's an oxymoron at all; it's a fundamental point. Seeing is not some abstract process that happens because the object achieves a certain level of visibility, even if visibility probably helps. It's something that humans do, so it involves both physics and psychology.

In the end, you don't want to be employable; you want a job.

in the end, you don't want to be visible; you want to be seen.

And achieving either aim can mean more than ticking some boxes that ought to make you stand out.

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

Postby Lesaid » 10 Dec 2017, 10:14pm

[quote="661-Pete"]I can only surmise that some motorists can 'see' and 'not see', simultaneously. Oxymoron that may be - but it happens! quote]
You could be right. This is speculation, but I am aware of two well known phenomena that can explain why one driver might spot something easily when another might not - or the same driver on a second occasion might not. And perhaps both could be mitigated by appropriate training.

I don't remember the correct name for these phenomena though.

Problem one - looking for (say) an aircraft that you know is approaching an airport. You know it is there, and it is in clear view, but you can search for a long time and not spot it. Once you do happen to spot it - you can follow it easily in the sky, but if your attention is diverted and you lose it - you have the same problem finding it again. That is because it is a small, indistinct 'target', and your vision/perception is only clear in a very narrow range directly where you are looking. Unless the plane does something to draw attention to itself - such as turn on its landing lights, it is very hard to find. And if it is travelling towards you, it isn't moving in your field of view, so even harder to spot. Even though it is in plain view! Much like a cyclist coming directly towards you against a confusing background or in the dark with a dim light. And with the cyclist, the problem is worse because you don't know there is a cyclist there to be found! I understand there to be a formal method for methodically searching the field of view for such small, indistinct objects, but it takes training, practice, and most importantly, a lot of time - which motorists do not have in fast changing traffic situations.

Problem two - total focus on one thing can blind someone to something else, even something else very very obvious. A classic experiment had a runner following and focussing on the actions of another runner out in front. The subjects ran past a guy in a gorilla suit fighting an actor, just a few feet off the path (or something like that). Most of the subjects didn't notice the fight at all, despite having run past them only a few feet away. Now think of the driver trying to (say) turn right, through a stream of busy rush hour traffic - focussing on the speeds of the oncoming vehicles, and looking for a safe gap to turn through. I think it is not surprising that a cyclist could be missed, and I think most people, no matter how careful they think they are, can be caught out this way. Thankfully, usually, there isn't any problem and there are no consequences, so the driver will never realise what potential dangers were missed.

I don't think any of us are immune to that kind of thing and most people will never have formal training in how to overcome these things. So while missing a cyclist might be thought to be the fault of the driver, in practice, I think it will continue to happen erratically for the first reason, if the cyclist doesn't have something to specifically attract the attention of drivers - particularly if the cyclist is coming straight towards the driver and not moving across his field of view. And no matter what the cyclist does, the second reason will still cause problems. The driver will honestly believe himself to have been attentive, careful and observant, and yet will still miss what others would think is blindingly obvious!! There was a court case some time ago in the USA where someone was (I think) found guilty of assault and jailed because the jury didn't believe he could have been very close to an attack without seeing it. Until a psychologist staged an experiment to demonstrate the problem, and the verdict was overturned (was described in a recent TV documentary on the BBC).

Having said all of that - I know that many accidents are caused by negligence and carelessness too. But you cannot assume that because you 'think' you should be visible, that an oncoming driver will actually 'see' you - and it will not always be the 'fault' of the driver, but a consequence of the way human physiologogy and perception works. So as cyclists, EVERYTHING we can do to draw attention to ourselves, whether or not legally 'required', would seem to be a good idea!

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

Postby Lesaid » 10 Dec 2017, 10:16pm

drossall wrote:
661-Pete wrote:I can only surmise that some motorists can 'see' and 'not see', simultaneously. Oxymoron that may be - but it happens!

I don't think it's an oxymoron at all; it's a fundamental point. Seeing is not some abstract process that happens because the object achieves a certain level of visibility, even if visibility probably helps. It's something that humans do, so it involves both physics and psychology.

In the end, you don't want to be employable; you want a job.

in the end, you don't want to be visible; you want to be seen.

And achieving either aim can mean more than ticking some boxes that ought to make you stand out.


Yes indeed - I think you are saying the same thing as what I just posted - our posts 'crossed' !! But you are far more succinct :)

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

Postby gaz » 10 Dec 2017, 11:17pm

Lesaid wrote:... you cannot assume that because you 'think' you should be visible, that an oncoming driver will actually 'see' you ...

The article linked in the OP of this earlier thread provides an introduction to the way in which we can look but fail to see.
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Lesaid
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby Lesaid » 10 Dec 2017, 11:40pm

gaz wrote:
Lesaid wrote:... you cannot assume that because you 'think' you should be visible, that an oncoming driver will actually 'see' you ...

The article linked in the OP of this earlier thread provides an introduction to the way in which we can look but fail to see.


Thanks for that - that is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about in my 'problem one' :)

I think 'problem two' is largely an additional problem - and both appear to be phenomena often exploited by stage magicians to create their illusions.

Fascinating stuff - and scary for cyclists!

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

Postby Lesaid » 10 Dec 2017, 11:40pm

gaz wrote:
Lesaid wrote:... you cannot assume that because you 'think' you should be visible, that an oncoming driver will actually 'see' you ...

The article linked in the OP of this earlier thread provides an introduction to the way in which we can look but fail to see.


Thanks for that - that is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about in my 'problem one' :)

I think 'problem two' is largely an additional problem - and both appear to be phenomena often exploited by stage magicians to create their illusions.

Fascinating stuff - and scary for cyclists!

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

Postby gaz » 10 Dec 2017, 11:47pm

Hand wash only. Do not iron.

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

Postby mjr » 10 Dec 2017, 11:50pm

Lesaid wrote:Having said all of that - I know that many accidents are caused by negligence and carelessness too. But you cannot assume that because you 'think' you should be visible, that an oncoming driver will actually 'see' you - and it will not always be the 'fault' of the driver, but a consequence of the way human physiologogy and perception works. So as cyclists, EVERYTHING we can do to draw attention to ourselves, whether or not legally 'required', would seem to be a good idea!

It can SEEM that way, but it really isn't a good idea. Two example ways it isn't: 1. if we give in to the argument that we should use brighter headlights to defend against motorists failing to follow the highway code, then it will quickly become expected that we do so and anyone who merely complies with the lighting law will be seen as negligent - it will be rear lights all over again; 2. if we do something to draw attention to ourselves, it will probably mean that anyone walking around us doesn't get the attention we draw to ourselves, so they will be at greater risk from the not-attentive-enough motorists - is that fair? Do we really want to engage in an arms race with our friends and neighbours, rather than restrict the killer motorists?

Talking about restricting motorists reminds me of this earlier mistake:
Lesaid wrote: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!

No, it would probably reduce congestion greatly: cars travelling at 20mph need something like 12m of stopping space in front of each one, so you can fit many more on the same stretch of road than cars travelling at 60mph needing 73m in front of each, plus they would build up at any obstructions much more slowly. That's why "managed motorways" aim to lower speed limits before congestion occurs, in the hope of temporarily increasing the road's capacity to avoid a build-up. So 20mph limits on any road forming part of a cycle route would reduce the overtaking problem and probably also reduce congestion greatly!

I don't think it's fair to suggest there's a "them and us attitude" - there is no them, for we are mostly them too. I drive and I cycle at different times. When driving, I don't drive onto a piece of road unless I can see it's clear and I expect other drivers to do the same... but when cycling, I try to be ready for them if they don't, having practised emergency turns and stops. I will continue to criticise other motorists who react to nearly hitting a cyclist by suggesting the cyclist should use even brighter lights, rather than resolving to take more care - and yes, as a result of not driving out until I can see it is clear, sometimes nowadays I can't turn right onto a busy road at peak times because safe gaps are few and far between so I turn left and U-turn where convenient instead. Why wouldn't you?
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Lesaid
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby Lesaid » 10 Dec 2017, 11:59pm

gaz wrote:Problem two.


Exactly - a different experiment showing the same thing! Thank you!