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, 2:09pm

"mjr" made all sorts of points.

Just to note - I never said this specific type of accident was the most common kind, or even was common at all. But it is a kind of accident with potentially fatal consequences for both the cyclist and other road users caught up in a possible pile-up. I can well believe this is totally consistent with a statistic that said bike lights were a factor in less than 2% of accidents. Doesn't help you if you are in that 2%.

But not going round the same points again. Folk can scan back in this thread to find the arguments. You hold your beliefs and that is your right. I will stick to mine - and I personally think I will have a better chance of living longer. I might be wrong - in which case I will have to take the consequences!

Thankfully on the particular road in question, which I have to use daily as it is en-route to and from where I live, it isn't a common problem as very few cyclists use that road at peak times. This could well be because of the intimidating high-speed two-lane continuous traffic and the presence of alternative cycle-only routes for most of that road's length which many cyclists (for some reason, not all cyclists!) choose to use. And this, in my view, makes more sense than using that road even with bright lights!

Have a good Christmas and stay alive!

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

Postby mjr » 11 Dec 2017, 3:59pm

Lesaid wrote:But not going round the same points again.

And then immediately contradicted by making these same points again:

Lesaid wrote:Folk can scan back in this thread to find the arguments. You hold your beliefs and that is your right.

Beliefs? This ain't a religious debate. This is something with cold hard data behind it. Casualty rates have varied independently of lighting improvements - it makes no difference that we can detect against random variation.

Lesaid wrote:I will stick to mine - and I personally think I will have a better chance of living longer. I might be wrong - in which case I will have to take the consequences!

The worry is that it leads to the deaths of others, most likely cyclists misled by the cult of bright lights or other road users who get less attention as a result. If it's only self-harm, then we'll all be better off having one less motorist who freely dispenses dodgy road safety opinions and stubbornly ignores repeated suggestions to take an updated eyetest. :twisted:
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Lesaid
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 4:08pm

mjr wrote:The worry is that it leads to the deaths of others


Exactly !!!

You're ignoring all the cognitive/perceptual evidence referred to earlier in this thread. Whatever!!

Have a good Christmas!

:)

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

Postby mjr » 11 Dec 2017, 4:17pm

Lesaid wrote:You're ignoring all the cognitive/perceptual evidence referred to earlier in this thread. Whatever!!

No, I've replied to it in the earlier thread. I didn't want to rehash old points, but as you insist: in short, it's rationalisation of "common sense" prejudices and contradicted by other cognitive/perceptual evidence, so let's rely on the cold hard numbers.

Lesaid wrote:Have a good Christmas!

Please stop that. I'm what people like you probably call a heretic (if you're being polite).
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Lesaid
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 4:37pm

mjr wrote:
Lesaid wrote:You're ignoring all the cognitive/perceptual evidence referred to earlier in this thread. Whatever!!

No, I've replied to it in the earlier thread. I didn't want to rehash old points, but as you insist: in short, it's rationalisation of "common sense" prejudices and contradicted by other cognitive/perceptual evidence, so let's rely on the cold hard numbers.

Lesaid wrote:Have a good Christmas!

Please stop that. I'm what people like you probably call a heretic (if you're being polite).


ok then - I'll bite. Can you show me the statistics that relate to the kind of accident which involve a motorist or pedestrian seeing (or missing) a bicycle coming towards them in the dark on a busy road? That is the specific kind of circumstance for which statistics would be relevant here.

More general statistics that include incidents in daylight, or involve seeing the bicycle from behind or the side are irrelevant to this issue and would just obscure the evidence that we're looking for.

If you have such statistics from a credible source that show that my views are wrong, then I'll apologise and rethink my views.

By the way - you can't write off that perceptual evidence with a handwave - they are the results of serious research - and it seems highly reasonable to assume that the findings would apply to motorists and cyclists just as much as to people in other kinds of situations.

I have to admit - I didn't rise to your comments about formal statistics before because I assumed that such statistics would be unlikely to be broken down in a useful way for this circumstance. My apologies if I was too hasty in that. I am not a religious person and I do seek evidence where available to find and support conclusions.

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

Postby AlaninWales » 11 Dec 2017, 5:00pm

The evidence of perceptual science informs us that it is the agent looking who accepts or suppresses the information. I.e. it is up to the driver to look properly, aware that his expectations of what might be there will directly affect whether or not (s)he sees everything that is there: Your mind is predicting (in this instance) that there should be no cyclists (because in your opinion the road is too dangerous for cyclists - or as you have posted, because they slow down the (more important) car drivers). In those circumstances, you are likely to suppress evidence of cyclists when your eyes present them to you. Making the cyclist brighter is still not going get you seeing the cyclists as they cannot look like a motor vehicle.

A useful read including a summary of recent research into how we see (become aware of) things that are around us, is 'Surfing Uncertainty' by Andy Clark

As a cyclist I have had my inability to make those 'looking but not seeing' actually see me, confirmed by the many drivers who still cannot see me when I have multiple bright lights and reflectives.

As a driver I combat this by looking to see whether the road is clear, rather than looking for 'vehicles' (or as you seem to do - looking for 'bright lights'). Others have suggested this. If the lights of other vehicles are so bright that they obscure what might be there, I do not proceed through (or across) that piece of road. This takes a certain amount of self-control, but should be eminently achievable by anyone capable of driving a car. It has in recent years saved the lives of (at least) two vulnerable road users.

A far more useful response (to noticing that you had come close to killing someone with your car) than blaming the potential victim, would be to consider what you personally can do better so that the situation does not recur. The fact is that the cyclist was there, legally lit and you failed to notice this. The proverbial beam is in your eye, I suggest you investigate how to remove it. Otherwise you are very likely to be in collision with another legally lit cyclist or indeed a legally unlit pedestrian.

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

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 5:08pm

mjr wrote: it's rationalisation of "common sense" prejudices and contradicted by other cognitive/perceptual evidence, so let's rely on the cold hard numbers.


I meant to add - where formal research (the perceptual stuff I was referring to) contradicts 'cold hard numbers', you don't throw out either. You work to reconcile the two and find out why there is a contradiction - THEN, you rethink and re-do either of or both of the research and the statistics data gathering/analysis as appropriate, and come to a new conclusion or interpretation.

Cognition, perception and psychology are not my subjects (my interests are in mathematics, physics and cosmology), but it might be interesting to explore this more fully here, if the data really are available and you are up for it?

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

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 6:08pm

AlaninWales wrote:The evidence of perceptual science informs us that it is the agent looking who accepts or suppresses the information. I.e. it is up to the driver to look properly, aware that his expectations of what might be there will directly affect whether or not (s)he sees everything that is there: Your mind is predicting (in this instance) that there should be no cyclists (because in your opinion the road is too dangerous for cyclists - or as you have posted, because they slow down the (more important) car drivers). In those circumstances, you are likely to suppress evidence of cyclists when your eyes present them to you.


Interesting - I hadn't heard exactly that before, though it intuitively makes total sense. It sounds like a third reason why a cyclist might not be 'seen' in addition to the two mentioned earlier in the thread! Thanks for the link - I'll read it :)

In this specific situation, I don't know if that is the case though it could have played a part. I was looking up an empty inner lane with a bus at a bus stop several hundred yards away. I was trying to find out if the lane was indeed empty, and wondering why folk in the outside lane were not moving back into it after passing the bus, as I would normally expect. Because I was unsure why, and in spite of searching directly along that empty lane, I did not see the cyclist - I chose not to pull out because I was unsure. I was expecting some reason why the lane was empty. This took five or ten seconds. But I must have been staring directly at the cyclist and still did not see him. There was immense dazzle coming from the solid stream of traffic in the outside lane, and the headlights of the bus in the distance.

I 'think' (no proof obviously) that the pinpoint flashing front light of the bicycle was simply swamped by the sea of lights alongside and behind him, and by chance, he didn't happen to cycle directly into line with either of the bus headlights while I was looking. That is why I think a brighter light would have been more visible in that situation. I also think that a steady (not flashing) strong white light on the handlebars would probably have been moving around a bit which might also have made him more obvious.

Later tonight, I'll do a calculation as to how precisely I would have had to have been looking 'at' the bike in order to have seen a faint flashing light, based on the size of the sensitive central portion of the field of view. That might tell me if that issue 'could' have been a factor.

If you or anyone else reading this knows more about this than I do, please jump in :)

AlaninWales wrote:A far more useful response (to noticing that you had come close to killing someone with your car) than blaming the potential victim, would be to consider what you personally can do better so that the situation does not recur. The fact is that the cyclist was there, legally lit and you failed to notice this. The proverbial beam is in your eye, I suggest you investigate how to remove it. Otherwise you are very likely to be in collision with another legally lit cyclist or indeed a legally unlit pedestrian.


Note that I did not move out because I was unsure. It wasn't a case of 'not noticing' - I was searching for something in that lane quite deliberately, and still didn't see him! And I am trying to take action to reduce that risk - one of which is to raise this issue here - though I'm more than a little surprised at the almost universal condemnation of the idea that more than the legal minimum front light brightness might be a good idea in a situation like this !! When I overtook the cyclist a couple of minutes later and glanced back - I could then see a flashing front light, but it was not bright - even when I was just in front of him looking at him in the mirror.

But this thread has given some interesting new perspectives which I'm following up :)

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

Postby gaz » 11 Dec 2017, 9:24pm

Lesaid wrote:Tell me though - how is that different in principle from the point I was making earlier about lights.

The principle is that speed limits are an absolute maximum and that you should drive a motor vehicle to the conditions within that limit. In the real world when performing a manoeuvre, such as joining free flowing traffic most drivers will allow for other drivers approaching either at or above the limit.

The principle is that a driver should be able to see a cyclist who is legally lit. In the real world when performing a manoeuvre, such as joining free flowing traffic most drivers will blame a cyclist that they didn't see for failing to make themselves visible, even in daylight.

The dangers of driving motor vehicles at excessive speed within the limit are well known and evidenced: http://www.brake.org.uk/facts-resources ... 1255-speed

I've yet to see any evidence that legally lit cycles present a significant source of danger. Feel free to link some stats.
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Lesaid
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 10:32pm

gaz wrote:
Lesaid wrote:Tell me though - how is that different in principle from the point I was making earlier about lights.

The principle is that speed limits are an absolute maximum and that you should drive a motor vehicle to the conditions within that limit. In the real world when performing a manoeuvre, such as joining free flowing traffic most drivers will allow for other drivers approaching either at or above the limit.

The principle is that a driver should be able to see a cyclist who is legally lit. In the real world when performing a manoeuvre, such as joining free flowing traffic most drivers will blame a cyclist that they didn't see for failing to make themselves visible, even in daylight.

The dangers of driving motor vehicles at excessive speed within the limit are well known and evidenced: http://www.brake.org.uk/facts-resources ... 1255-speed

I've yet to see any evidence that legally lit cycles present a significant source of danger. Feel free to link some stats.


I think you misunderstood my point.

I was saying - or trying to say - that a speed limit is there to limit speed - but you cannot assume because the law says you're allowed to travel at 40mph in a 40mph zone, that it is safe to do so. You have to use your road sense to limit your speed more than the law requires, as prudent.

In exactly the same way, the law sets minimum standards for lighting that cyclists must meet in order to be legal. But you cannot assume because the law says you are allowed to use that level of lighting, that it is safe to do so. You have to use your road sense to use more lighting if the situation needs it.

To me, that comparison is obvious and self-evident, and nothing to do with the kind of criticisms that are for some reason being levelled at my original post on that topic. Sorry if I was not clear enough in the way I phrased it! I think that kind of logic applies to most legal limits of almost anything - not just speed and bicycle lighting.

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

Postby drossall » 11 Dec 2017, 10:51pm

Lesaid wrote:I 'think' (no proof obviously) that the pinpoint flashing front light of the bicycle was simply swamped by the sea of lights alongside and behind him, and by chance, he didn't happen to cycle directly into line with either of the bus headlights while I was looking. That is why I think a brighter light would have been more visible in that situation.

Assuming that your analysis is correct (and I don't see why not), this is why some of us here are arguing that brighter lights is a doomed enterprise (even though we keep buying them!) Car and other lights are getting brighter too. The way forward is effective limits on the intensity, design and intrusiveness of lighting allowed to any vehicle.

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

Postby gaz » 11 Dec 2017, 11:24pm

Lesaid wrote:I think you misunderstood my point.

I understand your point, I don't accept it.

The law sets a variety of maximum speed limits, 20mph zones, 30mph residential streets, 70mph dual carriageways and further limits the maximum speed of different vehicle types. Speed limits have been developped in response to the dangers associated with speed. A motorist should further limit their own speed according to the conditions.

Cycle lamps available in 1984 were sufficiently bright to be seen against glare: LR1108.
The cycle lamp was found to be detectable at large distances against high levels of glare providing the batteries were not close to being exhausted.


The law sets one simple minimum level of lighting required on a cycle that it deems suitable for all circumstances. Once fitted to a cycle the rider has only that set of lights at his disposal, they are not required to be variable in their intensity. Four candela for a flashing light was not picked out of a hat. It was chosen based on research.

BTW most flashing lights on the market are likely to be considerably in excess of four candela although they are unlikely to comply with RVLR for other reasosn.
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Re: Near miss on busy road - plea for good lights!!

Postby Bonefishblues » 11 Dec 2017, 11:31pm

Car lights and their intensity have developed significantly since 1984. Is there any more recent research?

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

Postby Lesaid » 11 Dec 2017, 11:34pm

drossall wrote: Car and other lights are getting brighter too. The way forward is effective limits on the intensity, design and intrusiveness of lighting allowed to any vehicle.


That makes a lot of sense. I was noticing while looking up the brightness and power consumption of car headlamps for an earlier post, that the brighter offerings were marked 'not for road use'. So I presume that upper limits on brightness are now in place?

But as a motorist as well as a cyclist, I'm fed up with being dazzled by oncoming lights.

However, that isn't going to change tomorrow - or this year, or probably this decade - so in the meantime, surely we have to use lighting that will compete enough to be seen against the dazzle! Bike lights are not going to contribute to the 'arms race' I think, because the upper end of car headlamps will surely always outshine the majority of even the brighter cycle lamps!

I am guessing this problem will not change until the advent of driverless vehicles, whose sensors perhaps won't need viciously bright beams to see where they're going.


On a related topic - I just did a calculation of the width of the foveal field of view at 200 metres. This (according to wikipedea) represents around 1.2 degrees of the visual field (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_field), and by my calculation, corresponds to just over four metres width. So, looking straight down a normal road lane, approaching or beyond 200 metres, the whole lane width should be in the high acuity part of our vision.

So in the particular incident I recounted, 'problem one' in my earlier post is probably irrelevant. Vision should have been sharp across most of the lane from 100 metres distance, and the whole lane before 200m. Assuming I'm understanding the figures correctly.

I was totally focussed on searching for something in that lane, so attention diversion (problem 2) doesn't make sense.

So that leaves the 'expectation' problem that was raised a few posts ago (which I don't believe was the issue as cyclists were in my mind at the time), or simple swamping as above. So for now, I'm going with swamping as the most probable explanation.

So it is back to the level of lighting as the most likely way of decreasing risk. I think I'm going to try an experiment - have someone flash a low power front cycle lamp next to car headlights, and see at what distance the flash is detectable/obvious. Then repeat with higher power ones. That could be a start to establishing how much difference light levels actually make, and quantifying what power of light might be a good compromise for a bike in such circumstances. Collect some real evidence about this!!

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

Postby gaz » 11 Dec 2017, 11:42pm

Unless you have some quite sophisticated measuring equipment you'll gather some anecdote, not evidence.
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