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 » 11 Dec 2017, 12:26am

mjr wrote:
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?

I must respectfully disagree - while it sounds plausible, I think it misses the point about perception - and I suggest that talking about restricting killer motorists is the kind of unnecessarily inflammatory language that helps nobody. As is talking about motorists who genuinely are paying attention but still not 'seeing' as 'not following the highway code'. I think that is missing the point! Though I know that is only part of the story and there is plenty of negligent and reckless craziness out there too!.


mjr wrote:[
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!


Interesting - I stand corrected :) that sounds very plausible. I have a caveat though - if you have a stream of cars following each other at the minimum distance that each driver considers is safe - with no 'slack' in the system, then a slight reduction in speed of one car can be enough to cause a greater reduction of speed in the car behind them, and more behind that, as each car overshoots its position more than the one in front. Some way further back, the traffic stops completely, and you have a kind of stationary 'wave' of traffic rippling back along the road - potentially turning into 'emergency stops' for the cars coming up behind! This came from some traffic modelling I did myself of motorway traffic on a computer, after wondering why phantom traffic jams seemed to afflict busy motorways, and I've since seen the same thing reported more formally by professional researchers. I was modelling at speeds of 50MPH and upwards, so I don't know what the effect of this at 20MPH would be. But if a fast moving stream of traffic with some extra gaps in it is slowed to 20 mph - I could imagine that they'd end up following each other more closely, such that unexpected stops become more likely.

mjr wrote: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. Why wouldn't you?


Again, I think this might be missing the point about perception.

mjr wrote: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?

Actually - the situation I described in my first post was my turning LEFT onto a major road. That is the road from where I live, to the 'outside world' and it is NEVER possible to turn right there safely except at very quiet times. So the answer to 'why wouldn't you' - is 'I do' !!!! And the first safe place to turn around is a good mile along the road! Very frustrating sometimes! I'm very lucky that there is a separate cycle route away from the road that enables me to bypass that piece of road when I am going anywhere on the bike.

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

Postby mjr » 11 Dec 2017, 12:41am

Lesaid wrote:
mjr wrote:[...] 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?

I must respectfully disagree - while it sounds plausible, I think it misses the point about perception - and I suggest that talking about restricting killer motorists is the kind of unnecessarily inflammatory language that helps nobody. As is talking about motorists who genuinely are paying attention but still not 'seeing' as 'not following the highway code'. I think that is missing the point! Though I know that is only part of the story and there is plenty of negligent and reckless craziness out there too!.

I suggest someone who came on here to blame a random cyclist for not having a light bright enough to overcome their apparent eyesight problem has little standing to criticise unnecessarily inflammatory language that helps nobody, or missing the point! "a dark shape came out of nowhere and flashed by", "completely invisible" and "he could easily have been killed" should be "someone that I had failed to see went past", "I didn't see" and "I could have killed him".

Lesaid wrote: [...] phantom traffic jams [...] I don't know what the effect of this at 20MPH would be.

Pretty much the same, except that they're less likely to be travelling in large numbers with no slack because of the reduced space needed.
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Lesaid
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 6:49am

mjr wrote:I suggest someone who came on here to blame a random cyclist for not having a light bright enough to overcome their apparent eyesight problem has little standing to criticise unnecessarily inflammatory language that helps nobody, or missing the point! "a dark shape came out of nowhere and flashed by", "completely invisible" and "he could easily have been killed" should be "someone that I had failed to see went past", "I didn't see" and "I could have killed him".


You seem to misunderstand my motivation for posting about this topic in the first place. Remember - I am a cyclist too - I am on the side of safety and self-preservation - playing blame games is a waste of time.

I'm not going to be drawn into a 'them-and-us' slanging match so I think we need to 'agree to differ' :)

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

Postby eileithyia » 11 Dec 2017, 8:09am

I think we are getting to the point of all having to agree that we do not agree.... it seems we are flogging a dead horse.
The OP is fairly adament that he was perfectly correct and the cyclist appeared from nowhere... possibly a blind spot or attention was marginally diverted for a few seconds while taking all other road conditions at the time (bus other passing traffic).
I guess we have all been in such a situation.
As cyclists most of us are very wary of cars turning out on to our route (I certainly am and am very watchful of what a driver is doing) and have certainly had more accidents had I not taken avoiding action.
As for the rest of us we weren't there at the time to know exactly what happened.

If the OP is so adament that lights were a failure, it might be interesting if we could put him in the same situation and see how bright his lights really are against the 'glare' of other traffic?

Either way it seems there was the potential for an accident which was avoided at the time, and perhaps it is time to move on after tis the season og peace and goodwill.
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Lesaid
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 8:28am

eileithyia wrote:If the OP is so adament that lights were a failure, it might be interesting if we could put him in the same situation and see how bright his lights really are against the 'glare' of other traffic?


It would indeed be interesting - but I can't think of how to do that in safety! I imagine someone may already have explored this - I'll have to go looking!

A report on an air accident where an airliner landed on top of an aircraft already on the runway comes to mind. At night, but good weather and clear visibility. The aircraft on the runway was in full view of the pilots of the landing aircraft (had been wrongly cleared, I think), and it was only when investigators recreated the scenario that they found how it was all but impossible for the incoming pilots to recognise the lights of the plane on the runway against the particular backdrop of confusing lighted features around it. This was featured on one of the "Air Crash Investigation" series.

It isn't just cyclists becoming perceptually 'invisible' - I think the same issue could easily arise with a car running on sidelights only amidst a mass of dazzling headlights.

eileithyia wrote:Either way it seems there was the potential for an accident which was avoided at the time, and perhaps it is time to move on after tis the season og peace and goodwill.


I agree - thank you for your post :) this thread has achieved my intention, which was simply to raise and start a discussion about what I perceived (and still perceive) as an safety issue, which (intuitively) can be substantially mitigated by really effective lighting. If someone has formally studied this issue, I would be very interested!

Happy Christmas and safe cycling all !!

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

Postby [XAP]Bob » 11 Dec 2017, 8:42am

Lesaid wrote:
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 :)


The difference is that one is assuming that they must get up to some legally defined maximum, which has always been stated as a maximum for good visibility, clear dry road...
The other is exceeding a legal minimum, which is specified for dark riding.

The other major difference is that the difference slowing down makes is that you have to hold your foot is a slightly different place. To ‘compete’ with car headlights on my commute I would need a battery capable of supply ~100W for 2 hours. To do that with any degree of comfort would need a 400Wh battery...
That’s > £500, and likely more mass than the bike...
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mjr
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby mjr » 11 Dec 2017, 9:28am

eileithyia wrote:I think we are getting to the point of all having to agree that we do not agree.... it seems we are flogging a dead horse.
The OP is fairly adament that he was perfectly correct and the cyclist appeared from nowhere... possibly a blind spot or attention was marginally diverted for a few seconds while taking all other road conditions at the time (bus other passing traffic).
I guess we have all been in such a situation.

Yes, but rarely, and when I have been, I've accepted my error and striven to remedy it, rather than blame the potential victim.
Either way it seems there was the potential for an accident which was avoided at the time, and perhaps it is time to move on after tis the season og peace and goodwill.

While posting apparent agreement, it seems the op is unwilling to retract the mistaken claim that any lights can be bright enough to overcome the problem.
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 9:44am

mjr wrote:While posting apparent agreement, it seems the op is unwilling to retract the mistaken claim that any lights can be bright enough to overcome the problem.


If I ever claimed that, I am sorry - it was not my intention. I have used words like 'mitigate' - I don't think I ever once claimed that the problem can be 'solved'. That will never happen while cyclists and cars are in the same space, no matter what anyone does because there will always be some crazy drivers out there - both bikes and cars. And there will always be momentary lapses of attention - happens to all of us. And there will always be situations that deceive the perception of the most attentive driver. Everything on the road is a (hopefully calculated) risk that we try to mitigate to acceptable levels!

I have also never blamed that cyclist - I have explored reasons why I did not see him in spite of specifically peering into the apparently empty lane of traffic for five or ten seconds, trying to establish if anything was there, and did not see anyone. But I wasn't convinced it was safe so I didn't move out. That isn't blaming the cyclist - it is exploring the reasons for not seeing him and suggesting how the risk might be reduced with better lighting. But I'm not going to pick apart further what exactly was said in previous posts - it is a waste of time.

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

Postby Flinders » 11 Dec 2017, 9:53am

A pedestrian doesn't (normally) show a front light, there is no legal requirement to, and cars are still expected not to run them over when the pedestrian has the right of way.
I might have agreed with the op if the cyclist was travelling all in black without lights after lighting up time. But they weren't.

I agree that car headlights and street lights and shop lights etc. can make it difficult to see pedestrians and even lit cyclists, and I'm totally against cars having lights on when it is neither dark nor foggy because I think that is a very definite 'comparative safety' problem, but it all means we have to look harder, I'm afraid. Cyclists using brighter lights (which drivers have been known to complain about being blinded by as they are not always properly adjusted, and in some cases I'd agree they are too bright except for off-road or unlit road use) just ratchets it up and makes pedestrians even more vulnerable. The cyclist was doing what the law requires, as drives we have to do the same. I try always to keep in the mindset that I don't 'go' unless I can see it is clear, rather than going unless I see something in the way, which is fortunately what the OP seems to do too.

Having said all that, when I cycle commuted in the city at night I did wear light colours as well as have lights, which I think is a better idea than brighter lights. My choice, though, and had I chosen darker clothes I ought still have been able to expect drivers to see me, provided my lights were on.
Last edited by Flinders on 11 Dec 2017, 9:57am, edited 2 times in total.

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

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 10:08am

Flinders wrote:double posted, sorry.

Only one copy of the post appeared for me :)

I think most would agree however, that a pedestrian in a road space is well advised to use his own good sense to watch out for traffic, especially if lighting is poor or he is wearing inconspicuous clothing, whether the 'law' requires him to or not.

As a cyclist, I want to make myself as visible as possible for my own self protection, regardless of the reasons why I might not be seen. I am saying that if risks can be reduced - what is the point of not reducing them, especially if the motivation for not doing anything is 'standing on principle' because it is the driver's responsibility to avoid a legal cyclist. Of course it is - but that isn't the point - the point is staying alive!

And as a motorist, I want cyclists to make themselves as visible as possible so that the chance I'll miss seeing them is as low as possible (doesn't matter why I might miss them, though I find the perception issues identified in earlier posts to be scary).

If you really believe that good (better than legal minimum) front lighting won't reduce the risk, you are entitled to your own opinion - I am one of those who disagree :)

But the points have been made - folk reading this thread will either agree or not - that is up to them!

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

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 10:23am

Let me add quickly, having reread my last post - Flinders - I was not suggesting you personally were 'standing on principle' while doing nothing to improve your visibility - please don't take my meaning wrongly! No offence was intended! I was responding mainly to your first point about the duty of cars not to run down pedestrians or cyclists, regardless of circumstances (your point loosely paraphrased).

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

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 11:19am

[XAP]Bob wrote:To ‘compete’ with car headlights on my commute I would need a battery capable of supply ~100W for 2 hours. To do that with any degree of comfort would need a 400Wh battery...
That’s > £500, and likely more mass than the bike...


Depends what you mean by 'compete'. I notice from various web sites, that typical LED car headlight replacements, for 'ordinary' as opposed to super bright headlights are around 1000-2000 lumen, and from https://www.thelightbulb.co.uk/resources/lumens_watts/ it would seem that this requires around 20W. I know that lumens alone are not a good comparison, and that these sites are not talking about bike specific systems, but I think they give a reasonable scale.

Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries can cost as little as £2-3 for 3.7V 5 Ah, which is the equivalent of about 180 Wh. So for 400Wh, the cost and weight required seems not particularly onerous at all. If you really need 100W lighting that is.

Ordinary replacement LED car headlamp units seem to be in the 50W region, though at a quick glance, I'm not sure if that is the 'per bulb' power, or the power requirements of both (dipped) headlights together.

But I don't see why 'competing' with car headlamps requires the 'same' brightness. The bike needs to be bright enough to draw attention to itself - not to outshine the cars!

I know there is cost involved - battery packs using that kind of battery, together with the charging and management electronics cost a lot more the simple batteries. But they are available in sizes that will easily go in a coat pocket or clip to a belt or to the bike, and not nearly as heavy as you imply!

My little light claims 1200 lumens - viewed in the dark alongside my car headlights, it is very obvious and allowing for the fact that it is a much smaller area of light source, does appear around as bright as the headlights. It has its own battery and weighs 241g, clipping on to the handlebar. I have never managed to run it flat, though the longest night journey I tend to make is perhaps a total of perhaps 60-90 minutes - so this particular unit might not be quite enough for you. I plug it into a USB charger overnight and it is fine for the next day.

I usually run it at a lower power level - gives considerably longer run time without very much visible difference in apparent brightness.

I am guessing the integral battery is probably between 50-100 Wh in capacity, but I haven't managed to find the actual specification.

Caveat : the above numbers are the result of a quick internet skim - I haven't double checked them, but they seem reasonable to me.

Perhaps you are thinking of pre-LED and pre lithium technology?

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

Postby brooksby » 11 Dec 2017, 11:31am

@Lesaid: L. Willo - is that you?? :wink:

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

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 11:35am

brooksby wrote:@Lesaid: L. Willo - is that you?? :wink:


Sorry - I'm afraid not. 'Lesaid" is an arbitrary name that I chose because it is pronounceable, short, and not usually taken when I want a username for some web site! I don't know the person you are referring to!

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

Postby mjr » 11 Dec 2017, 1:49pm

Lesaid wrote:As a cyclist, I want to make myself as visible as possible for my own self protection, regardless of the reasons why I might not be seen. I am saying that if risks can be reduced - what is the point of not reducing them, especially if the motivation for not doing anything is 'standing on principle' because it is the driver's responsibility to avoid a legal cyclist. Of course it is - but that isn't the point - the point is staying alive!

Yes, indeed, the point is staying alive! The motivation for not joining in the arms race is to help everyone stay alive rather than playing beggar-thy-neighbour to kill our walking friends and because there is basically no light which will overcome an incompetent (in the physical, SMIDSY sense) motorist who pulls out before you. There's a reason why cycle skills training is more effective than lights or yellow star jackets: for all you know, that cyclist insulted in the OP as "came out of nowhere" had seen you, been prepared to take avoiding action (most likely an emergency turn into the road you were emerging from) but noted that you weren't moving off so proceeded safely past.

Lesaid wrote:And as a motorist, I want cyclists to make themselves as visible as possible so that the chance I'll miss seeing them is as low as possible (doesn't matter why I might miss them, though I find the perception issues identified in earlier posts to be scary).

Really? It feels like, as a motorist, you want everyone else to be expected to take action while you avoid the simple step of going and getting a new eye test including night vision. I wonder if that's because of a fear that they might tell you not to drive.

Lesaid wrote:If you really believe that good (better than legal minimum) front lighting won't reduce the risk, you are entitled to your own opinion - I am one of those who disagree :)

Yeah, you're one of those who disagree by claiming it's "opinion" and ignoring the research evidence like the famous TRL study into collision causes that showed bad bike lights were only a factor in around 2% of collisions, reported most readably in https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... ents-study

Lesaid wrote:But the points have been made - folk reading this thread will either agree or not - that is up to them!

Or they could look at the evidence and try to decide what's probably true, instead of keeping writing that you don't want to rehash the same points while rehashing the same points.

Yes, we're "standing on principle" - but the principle isn't "it is the driver's responsibility to avoid a legal cyclist" - it's that pleading about lighting is a distraction and the only way to make us safe is to remove drivers unable to see from the roads ASAP.

There's been misleading accusations of those who disagree of taking a them-and-us attitude... there's an element of truth, but I think the them-and-us isn't cyclists-vs-motorists at all but competent-motorists-vs-dangerous-motorists.
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