Trendy, but Invisible!

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braz
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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby braz » 28 Jul 2009, 9:41pm

2 Tubs - I think I know what you mean!

I have an advantage over most drivers in that I'm also a cyclist, of the touring version, and cover many 0000's of miles a year on two wheels - so perhaps I'm more aware of cyclists than most drivers. Having said that, I like to think that I'm more aware of everything thats going on around me when I driving than most drivers!

And really - I can't understand the somewhat spurious argument that a driver, on a road with overhanging trees and in the pouring rain, will spot a cyclist wearing black as easily or quickly as spotting one wearing a hi-viz or rain coat.

It's about balance - if you ride in black in dark areas, don't complain if you get knocked off - or make a very small effort by wearing something bright that might save your life - it's self preservation, that's all.

Someone will come up with a statistic for the level of intelligence and ability of varing driving groups. The absolutely stupid, ignorant, 'get out of my way' driver can't be accounted for, but as you move up the scale one hopes that ability and awareness improve - and if these drivers spot that someone has taken the trouble to try and be more visible surely they will respect that effort and drive accordingly? One hopes so.

It's not a problem in France - in the dark or in poor weather you HAVE to wear a high viz jacket now - or get an 'on the spot' fine from your friendly Gendarmes. Not that this would work in the UK, because you never see a Copper - too busy doing Gordon Brown's paperwork to actively police the roads!

regards to all, Braz.

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jimmynoboat
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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby jimmynoboat » 28 Jul 2009, 9:57pm

I wear a light 'T' shirt or my reflective rain jacket. When I think there is a chance that I'll not be noticed due to poor light I switch on my flashing lights. I was told recently that flashing lights are not legal on bikes! Any truth in that? I really hope it never becomes compulsory to wear hi-vis in this country.
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drossall
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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby drossall » 28 Jul 2009, 10:07pm

braz wrote:...if you ride in black in dark areas, don't complain if you get knocked off...


I think that's what I'm getting at. As drivers, we are meant to make sure that we can see what is in front of us. Unequivocally, cyclists should make themselves visible, but this is an extra precaution and the driver is still primarily responsible for seeing you.

The alternative is that drivers are allowed to go faster than would be necessary to ensure seeing dark-clothed pedestrians and cyclists. I'm not suggesting for a moment that anyone actively regards risking hitting people as unimportant, but we have to keep the pressure on both parties to ensure safety - drivers to see any obstacle, and vulnerable road users to make themselves as easily seen as possible.

At the moment, it seems a little one-sided. Remember that pedestrians and cyclists were there first, and as drivers we bring our cars onto the road on the basis that we won't cause harm.

I'm a driver too of course, so I know that's a challenge.

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Mick F
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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby Mick F » 28 Jul 2009, 10:08pm

jimmynoboat wrote: I was told recently that flashing lights are not legal on bikes! Any truth in that?


This was a long running thread on here a while back - perhaps it needs re visiting!
Correct me, someone, if I'm wrong, then start a new thread in the Tech Section!

The way I understand it, is that you can have a flashing red light on the rear, but there must be a steady red light too. Ditto for the front, but they must not be red.

Also, a red reflector must be at the rear, and pedal reflectors too.

No while light should be shown to the rear and no red light to the front.

This only is for the hours of darkness and all lights, flashing or otherwise, plus all the reflectors must comply with the relevant BS specs.
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Ben Lovejoy
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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby Ben Lovejoy » 28 Jul 2009, 10:27pm

I believe the law was changed some years ago so there are legal flashing lights now.
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EdinburghFixed
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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby EdinburghFixed » 28 Jul 2009, 11:22pm

braz wrote:And really - I can't understand the somewhat spurious argument that a driver, on a road with overhanging trees and in the pouring rain, will spot a cyclist wearing black as easily or quickly as spotting one wearing a hi-viz or rain coat.

It's about balance - if you ride in black in dark areas, don't complain if you get knocked off - or make a very small effort by wearing something bright that might save your life - it's self preservation, that's all.


This is a great illustration of the problem (and of 'scope creep'). There was a time when a driver was responsible for not crashing into large man-sized objects on the open road. Since the concept of high-viz had not come along, that might seem obvious. What is strange is that now it is possible to wear high-viz, even cyclists think "don't complain if you get knocked off" while not wearing one.

So we're actually saying that every invention which may make cyclists more visible, all non-adopters actually 'deserve what they get' (when before they might have been at the cutting edge of "safe practice"). So somehow inventions to make cyclists safer actually don't, they just excuse drivers crashing in more and more scenarios that previously would have led to censure. Even worse, at least it was commonly accepted that on a sunny summer's day, you might just get away with summer clothes and not a piece of gear designed for foul weather operations on a North Sea oil rig, but even that has been lost as we see in these "summer cyclists in summer clothes" complaints.

What puts the lie to all of this is that nobody is going around saying "if you drive a dark car in dark places, don't complain if someone crashes into you" while giving out tins of luminous paint. Oh no, because while we are keen to transfer blame in car/bike accidents onto the cyclist, the idea that you can be responsible for someone crashing into your car is plainly rediculous :)

I think there will be a very interesting debate over the next few years as compulsory daytime running lights are introduced. I think we will see a rapid rise in "well, they didn't even have lights on" during broad daylight, and suddenly ordinary cyclists will be told "don't complain if you get knocked off" for daring to go for milk without a set of high-power off road lights to blast a clear path. Seriously, mark my words.

Fortunately we both have high-power off road lights, so for a year or two at least we'll be able to tell cyclists with 'mere' Catseye LEDs that they deserve everything they get ;)

braz wrote:Someone will come up with a statistic for the level of intelligence and ability of varing driving groups. The absolutely stupid, ignorant, 'get out of my way' driver can't be accounted for, but as you move up the scale one hopes that ability and awareness improve - and if these drivers spot that someone has taken the trouble to try and be more visible surely they will respect that effort and drive accordingly? One hopes so.


Actually, when drivers can see a cyclist more clearly and feel able to predict their course more accurately, they take greater risks (passing closer and at greater speed). Why wouldn't they? Everyone is driving to some level of hazard that they feel happy with internally, and if you alter one side of the balance you alter the other too. For a clear illustration of this look at the extra space drivers give a child-seat cyclist, as though they would be OK with "just" killing the mum, but not if she has her child! :shock:

This is why I really don't feel that high-viz offers as much of a practical advantage as people think. There are hardly any situations where a driver will miss a 'normal' cyclist but their behaviour around a high viz one may be significantly more risky.

My girlfriend and I have identical jackets, hers is high-viz and mine is charcoal, and guess who complains of closer overtaking? Not me.

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hubgearfreak
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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby hubgearfreak » 28 Jul 2009, 11:54pm

EF, you're right again, and very well written. 8)

the natural conclusion of the theory that the cyclist should do all they can to protect themselves from inattentive motorists hitting us, and then the odious contributory negligence that arises from the lack of helmets & etc, is for us all to either cycle on the path or only use motor cars on the road.
make that a big car.
no scrub big car, if another big car hits you, you'll still get hurt
best make it a unimog
actually, another unimog or lorry driver may still hurt you.
drive a tank.
a big tank

or maybe we could have some sort of rule whereby motorists have a duty to drive with due care and attention, and at a suitably safe speed for the road and weather conditions.

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hubgearfreak
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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby hubgearfreak » 28 Jul 2009, 11:55pm

am i alone in thinking that this all has a similarity to the infamous rape judge who said that the victim was to blame for wearing a short skirt?

drossall
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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby drossall » 28 Jul 2009, 11:58pm

The CTC has (of course) a page on lighting law. Basically, since the law was changed a few years ago, you may use flashing lights if they meet the other requirements.

Be aware, though, that one of the arguments advanced against the change is that it is hard to determine the distance to a flashing light. Thus, you'll be seen, but then run down anyway because the driver thought you were another 50 metres away :(

Personally I always use flashing lights in combination with fixed ones - but then I did that before the law changed; I just had the flashing ones on my arm, because I am not a vehicle and the old law didn't apply to lights fixed to me :D

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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby thirdcrank » 29 Jul 2009, 8:20am

For anybody concerned about the victim blaming thing (AKA contributory negligence) that's all a matter of what happens after a collision rather than preventing one. (No collision = no victim to blame.)

Over and above the requirements of the law (in the lighting regs) and the advice in the Highway Code it's worth having a look at Cyclecraft. There's a lot more in there than just the primary riding position, including stuff about not only being seen but being identified as a cyclist and so on. It's a source of continuing joy among cyclists that John Franklin's words of wisdom prevailed in the Telford case but that cuts both ways. Well worth reading what he has to say on this subject if you want to minimise the excuses available to insurance companies.

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EdinburghFixed
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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby EdinburghFixed » 29 Jul 2009, 10:46am

I have never understood why we should strive to be identified as cyclists. This is based on the premise that drivers will take more care around a cyclist than a motorbike (or I suppose, a car with one headlight). A premise that could hardly be any less accurate.

I love riding at night because suddenly, I am not obviously a bike, I am a very bright light holding a wide position in the road. The number of people who pull out in front of me when the clocks change in October always drops off dramatically. For this reason I have never been motivated to try and add pedal reflectors to my double-sided SPDs.

It is a systematic failure of the way we look at driving to imagine that giving motorists more information will lead to them using it to increase safety. One of the first things I did after reading Cyclecraft was stop indicating left. The number of times I was getting cut up approaching junctions fell significantly.

The overriding behaviour of everyone on the road (including cyclists and pedestrians!) is to consume extra information to allow the same level of perceived risk.

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braz
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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby braz » 29 Jul 2009, 11:19am

Oh good - I love a debate!

It is a systematic failure of the way we look at driving to imagine that giving motorists more information will lead to them using it to increase safety.


Regrettably, you can't know that - it's just a subjective opinion - as is mine. What we have found is that, when riding with a high viz vest on in poor conditions (riding down the A39 towards Wadebridge recently - narrow, twisty, pouring with rain) almost all car drivers gave us some respect, a wide berth, and if we responded with a 'thank you' wave of the hand they replied in kind) we do get less 'moments' than when riding without the vests.

I think that hi viz works, so I'm going to keep on wearing it - I've also ordered some dayglo underpants as well - for those very hot summer days when we ride as minimalsitically as possible.

kind regards, Braz.

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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby amaferanga » 29 Jul 2009, 11:53am

braz wrote:Oh good - I love a debate!

It is a systematic failure of the way we look at driving to imagine that giving motorists more information will lead to them using it to increase safety.


Regrettably, you can't know that - it's just a subjective opinion - as is mine. What we have found is that, when riding with a high viz vest on in poor conditions (riding down the A39 towards Wadebridge recently - narrow, twisty, pouring with rain) almost all car drivers gave us some respect, a wide berth, and if we responded with a 'thank you' wave of the hand they replied in kind) we do get less 'moments' than when riding without the vests.

I think that hi viz works, so I'm going to keep on wearing it - I've also ordered some dayglo underpants as well - for those very hot summer days when we ride as minimalsitically as possible.

kind regards, Braz.


I thought in your initial post you were saying that everyone should wear a reflective at all times, even when conditions are good?

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EdinburghFixed
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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby EdinburghFixed » 29 Jul 2009, 12:04pm

braz wrote:Oh good - I love a debate!

It is a systematic failure of the way we look at driving to imagine that giving motorists more information will lead to them using it to increase safety.


Regrettably, you can't know that - it's just a subjective opinion - as is mine.


Without engaging your other point (which as you say, is your opinion / experience), risk compensation isn't just an opinion - it has a well established body of supporting work.

For a quick but excellent overview I can only recommend the Wikipedia page on risk compensation - I'd wager this is as important as Cyclecraft to any regular rider.

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Re: Trendy, but Invisible!

Postby 2Tubs » 30 Jul 2009, 5:27pm

Mick F wrote:
jimmynoboat wrote: I was told recently that flashing lights are not legal on bikes! Any truth in that?


This was a long running thread on here a while back - perhaps it needs re visiting!
Correct me, someone, if I'm wrong, then start a new thread in the Tech Section!

The way I understand it, is that you can have a flashing red light on the rear, but there must be a steady red light too. Ditto for the front, but they must not be red.

Also, a red reflector must be at the rear, and pedal reflectors too.

No while light should be shown to the rear and no red light to the front.

This only is for the hours of darkness and all lights, flashing or otherwise, plus all the reflectors must comply with the relevant BS specs.

Falshing lights are permitted provided they conform to a British Standard which governs minimum candle power and the rate of flash.

I think the change of law came in in Feb 2005, before which flashing lights were ilegal.

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