Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
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Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby arc » 7 Jul 2011, 10:05pm

1st week in Portsmouth having moved down from nearly 10 years of incident free cycling in Glasgow, I was looking forward to commuting in much better weather. Less than a mile from home, turning right at a quietish roundabout in correct road position following a car at a reasonable distance; as the car passed the straight on exit, I see a lady starting to pull out without even looking again, I manage to throw the bike around to nearly parallel her as she pulls out, falling off in the process and watching her run my front wheel over not very far at all from where my legs had ended up. How did she not see me? Perfect visibility, bright clothing and in middle of my lane.......

Thankfully no injuries and only damage to bike was a trashed front wheel which the lady is happy to replace. In fairness she was badly shaken up (more so than me) terrified that she could have killed me and will probably pay more attention in future. How do we get people to pay more attention and stop pulling out into us?

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby gilesjuk » 7 Jul 2011, 10:31pm

Is it a one off or has it consistently been happening? some people just are ditzy at times.

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby rootes » 7 Jul 2011, 10:54pm

People when looking are expecting to see a lorry or a car, anything else is ignored/not seen...

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby snibgo » 7 Jul 2011, 11:32pm

It's your first week, so you may not know, but are cyclists common there? If not, the driver might not be accustomed to watching out for them.

Do you signal? I do, and reckon it makes me more visible. I signal and move right most of the way round, then signal left at my exit. All the while keeping an eye on traffic behind me, and keeping well clear of the entry "give way" lines so I have a chance to avoid cars that don't see me or don't give way.

Saying this, of course I'm not blaming you. Glad you are okay, and hope you have many decades of incident-free commuting.

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby thirdcrank » 8 Jul 2011, 9:04am

I understood the OP to be saying that there was a marked difference between Glasgow and Portsmouth in the amount of SMIDSY at roundabouts. I suppose that the experience of a few days isn't conclusive, but there might be a reason and if so, it would be useful to know what it was.

Otherwise, it's the bit at the start of the section on roundabouts in Cycle-friendly infrastructure which says they are the type of junction most feared by cyclists and even the most experienced riders will go well out of their way to avoid them.

For anybody who can't avoid them, there's advice from John Franklin in Cyclecraft but the underlying fault of roundabouts is that drivers are expected to drive in one direction while looking in another and collisions are accepted as part of the trade-off for maximising capacity. Most go unrecorded as knock-for-knock bumps, and the stats portray cycling as dangerous.

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby eileithyia » 8 Jul 2011, 9:26am

As far as I am aware it is simply a matter of you are not in the place where they are looking.
Drivers pulling into roundabouts are the same as drivers turning left at a giveway. Thye glance to their right at the sort of distance where they would expect a vehicle to be that is travelling at 20+ mph. they do not look directly in front for a bike travelling at a lower speed. Also you are often in their blind spot behind the window strutt (which do seem bigger and bigger these days).

Even worse at roundabouts i hate the approaches where there are 2 lanes of traffic esp if there is a car in the outside lane, watch for the car creeping up on the inside, as you pass the car in the outside lane they start to creep forward, the car on the inside sees the movement and assumes a clear passage in to the roundabout, just as you are starting to pass the end of the lane!

Also being close behind another vehicle means you can be in a blind spot, I have often followed a vehicle thru a junction, been aware of an oncoming right turning vehicle and realising they are going to assume a gap immediately behind the vehicle I am following and attempt to turn.
The same might be said for being on a roundabout.

I find keeping a sharp watch out for them, ensuring you have made eye contact and if not be ready to give a sharp shout, anything will do; OI! Look out or similar often grabs their attention, is the best way to deal with them and be ready to take some sort of avoiding action.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby kwackers » 8 Jul 2011, 9:37am

In my experience the biggest issue with roundabouts is that what you need to do for optimum safety varies from roundabout to roundabout and is also dependent on traffic. Generalisations don't always apply...

With regards cars entering without looking, it's just parr for the course and you need to be aware. I've gone months and had no incidents and then had two near misses on the same journey.
I'd say hi vis and good lights - but they've never helped me in the past, in fact statistically since I've always been using them you could even say they made things worse!

If there is a rule, I'd suggest being quite far over towards the centre of the roundabout when passing exits, if someone barrels onto it then you need to be able to move towards the inside, if you're on the outside then you're in trouble.

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby stewartpratt » 8 Jul 2011, 9:53am

If it's any consolation I was driving round a Portsmouth roundabout at the weekend and a bloke on a bicycle pulled out in front of me :|

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby philg » 8 Jul 2011, 10:31am

I'm happy to believe that my high-power-laser-cannon-of-death torch zip-tied to my helmet is a good defence.

Attached to the head means it automatically points to where you're looking, which on a roundabout is usually at the driver's face in the vehicle just about to take your lane.

Lights fixed to the bars won't get seen in daylight, and hi-viz generally isn't from the side.

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby thirdcrank » 8 Jul 2011, 11:25am

Sounds like another one for the signalling flags.... :roll:

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 8 Jul 2011, 12:07pm

AirZound - don't rely on their eyes...
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby porky » 8 Jul 2011, 12:29pm

There are some drivers who can not bring themselves to give way to a cyclist even when the law requires it. We are not seen as traffic and if you assert your rights as such, some drivers will be very surprised and occasionally hostile.

I had two incidents on the same day on Paradise Circus in Birmingham (this is a huge roundabout with multi-lane entrances, some of which are controlled by lights). In both cases I was already in my lane with a car joining the roundabout on my left. Both drivers looked at me and both still pulled across to sideswipe me. I shouted at both, both stopped moving towards me for a moment and then carried on causing me to brake and swerve to avoid a collision (neither of which is a safe option on this road). I did have a full and frank exchange of views with one of the drivers but she didn't think she had done anything wrong. In both cases all the driver needed to do was slow down a little and pull in behind me.

There are some drivers who don't look, some who look but don't see you and some who see you but can't understand what you are.
My car does 40 miles on a gallon of petrol, my bike will do that on a mug of tea and a slice of cake.

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby arc » 8 Jul 2011, 1:30pm

Putting it down to stuff happens; 22 years since my last vehicle interaction (and that was definitely my idiotic teenage selfs fault) so not too bad when you hear what some are unlucky enough to have happen to them. Was in the middle of the lane, indicating with full arm out and had enough time to attempt an emergency manoeuvre to prevent being T-Boned (even if I did still end up on the floor and had the wheel run over). Spoke to the lady today and she (and her daughter passenger) are both significantly more shaken than me, are sending a cheque for a new wheel in the post and are promising to be more careful in future. Was impressed with the number of people that stopped to offer help and their details as witnesses if required.

Too early to tell the difference in SMIDSY between Glasgow and Portsmouth, far more disappointingly I was promised sunshine and balmy weather down here yet on this mornings ride in I got soaked wet through with howling winds, meanwhile my wife in Glasgow visiting family is reporting stunning sunshine :cry: !

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby ersakus » 8 Jul 2011, 1:49pm

I now always ride with my lights on in daylight mode! They are dynamo powered and infinitely reliable. I wear a yellowish orange jacket as well.
It definitely helps. I had many near misses at junctions and with cars joining main roads. My existence on the main road and having right of way does not register with the driver. This is as bad as roundabouts.

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Re: Why am I invisible on roundabouts?

Postby cadseen » 9 Jul 2011, 7:38pm

I usually fly around them behind a car !!! use them as protection.
I just found faster is safer !!