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Old 02-06-17, 08:17 PM   #1
Lakerat
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Cone or segment of danger

I have a theory about a situation that causes danger to bicycles due to their speed being slower than cars. When a driver stops at a stop sign to turn on a road with a speed limit higher than bicycles travel, they may not look for cyclists in a zone close to their car. Drivers of cars ignore an area near their car since the crossing cars won't be there when they have completed their stop and begin to accelerate and turn.

I've ridden past cars stopped and preparing to turn onto the 45 MPH road that I'm peddling at 15, and have noticed they are looking further down the road than where I am. They may notice me when they turn their head to proceed, but this causes a nervous moment when I'm not sure they've seen me and they look ready to proceed on a path that would cause a collision.

If I've been able to explain this theory, has anyone else experienced this and is there a name for it?
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Old 02-06-17, 09:28 PM   #2
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How do you explain motorcyclist having the same problem?
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Old 02-06-17, 10:03 PM   #3
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The OP may find this interesting.
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Old 02-06-17, 10:26 PM   #4
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Sadly, most of the "solutions" are things motorists should do, and thus are not likely to be done....

Quote:
Drivers:
  • Slow down on the approach of a roundabout or junction.
  • Even if the road seems empty. Changing speed will allow you to see vehicles that would otherwise be invisible to you.
  • A glance is never enough. You need to be as methodical and deliberate as a fighter pilot would be. Focus on at least 3 different spots along the road to the right and left. Search close, middle-distance and far. With practise, this can be accomplished quickly, and each pause is only for a fraction of a second. Fighter pilots call this a “lookout scan” and it is vital to their survival.
  • Always look right and left at least twice. This doubles your chance of seeing a vehicle.
  • Make a point of looking next to the windscreen pillars. Better still, lean forward slightly as you look right and left so that you are looking around the door pillars. Be aware that the pillar nearest to you blocks more of your vision. Fighter pilots say ‘Move your head – or you’re dead’.
  • Clear your flight path! When changing lanes, check your mirrors and as a last check, look directly at the spot which are going to manoeuvre.
  • Drive with your lights on. Bright vehicles or clothing is always easier to spot than dark colours that don’t contrast with a scene.
  • It is especially difficult to spot bicycles, motorbikes and pedestrians during low sun conditions as contrast is reduced.
  • Keep your windscreen clean – seeing other vehicles is enough of a challenge without a dirty windscreen. You never see a fighter jet with a dirty canopy.
  • Finally, don’t be a clown – if you are looking at your mobile telephone then you are incapable of seeing much else. Not only are you probably looking down into your lap, but your eyes are focused at less then one metre and every object at distance will be out of focus. Even when you look up and out, it takes a fraction of a second for your eyes to adjust – this is time you may not have
.
So either we train motorists better, or take them out of the loop.

As a motorcyclist, years ago, I learned to always "look twice," but that isn't something most drivers will do. Far too many drivers rely on a quick glance... AND compound the problem by driving too fast for the conditions.

I think it is safe to say few drivers have the skills of fighter pilots.
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Old 02-06-17, 10:38 PM   #5
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Sadly, most of the "solutions" are things motorists should do, and thus are not likely to be done....
True, but that's only half the story. As a cyclist, being aware of the driver's limitations means that you can compensate for them, or do things to overcome them.
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Old 02-06-17, 10:42 PM   #6
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The sad truth is that many people while driving are distracted by any number of things, and are therefore not actively engaged in driving. They are operating a vehicle primarily via default programming basically-- the eyes and brain are teaming up to navigate by pattern recognition. Even without actively paying attention, the brain can detect something the size of a car as it passes through the visual field.

The problem arises for cyclists and motorcyclists, as they do not fit in the pattern recognition. When the driver of the car pulls out and nails a bike, then says to the cops, "I swear, I never even saw them," it's because they didn't. They weren't looking for a bike at the time, so a bike wasn't there.

I ride every day under the assumption that every car on the road doesn't see me-- for whatever reasons-- and is therefore unintentionally trying to murder me. We're on bikes. Fair or not, it's up to us to watch out for everything. And hope for the best.
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Old 02-06-17, 11:20 PM   #7
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I certainly believe the reverse is true with sidewalks. Cars exiting driveways watch for pedestrians at 1-2 MPH, not bikes riding down the sidewalks at 10+ MPH.

It is rare, but I've had a few close calls with driveways and side streets entering onto through streets. I'm pretty careful now when approaching cars that may be pulling out. Riding on a shoulder or streetside bike path may make it worse, as you mention car drivers looking for traffic in the traffic lane, and not looking for small slow moving bicycles in the bike paths. Sun & shadows?

As mentioned above, it may also not always be a speed issue as much as a size and visibility issue. Some of the worst accidents are with bikes descending hills at close to the speed limit (middle of the lane?), and having cars pull out in front of them.
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Old 02-06-17, 11:41 PM   #8
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I ride every day under the assumption that every car on the road doesn't see me-- for whatever reasons-- and is therefore unintentionally trying to murder me. We're on bikes. Fair or not, it's up to us to watch out for everything. And hope for the best.
I have 4 MCs and one road bike. I put 3300 on the road bike last year and under 1k on the MCs. I ride under the same assumptions DrIsotope speaks of. Especially on the MCs due to their speed.
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Old 02-07-17, 01:02 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by genec View Post


So either we train motorists better, or take them out of the loop.
I think that is the approach motorists take with cyclists
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Old 02-07-17, 03:13 AM   #10
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True, but that's only half the story. As a cyclist, being aware of the driver's limitations means that you can compensate for them, or do things to overcome them.
While true, it does put a lot of onus on cyclists to compensate for really bad driving habits, AND rather reinforces the notion that cycling IS dangerous... largely due to the poor habits of drivers.

Honestly, when I cycle, I assume I am invisible until I can somewhat confirm otherwise, but I also realize one cannot "verify" every darn motorist you encounter daily... so there IS a certain dependence on the proper actions of other road users.

Ask any long haul truck driver just how "fine and dandy" they feel the motoring public is... I guarantee that huge truck falls right into the zone of visibility.
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Old 02-07-17, 09:40 AM   #11
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Genec: Gee I wish all of that very reasonable advice could be summarized as, "When in doubt, don't pull out!" But i bet the average roadway user would find that too much to memorize, as well. Courtesy, much like civility, seems to have abandoned us.

I think there are two things that dominate here. (1) It is very difficult to judge the speed/arrival time of a vehicle that is approaching you. Never mind cars, motorcycles, bicycles, or whatever flyboys tell you. YOU SEE CAUTION SIGNS at RAILWAY intersections. If it can be difficult to judge the speed/arrival time of a TRAIN, it obviously difficult to do on a roadway. (2) And don't forget that often both vehicles are moving, which makes comparative velocity assessments even more difficult.

I agree the onus seems to fall on bicycles/motorcycles in this case, but it is a burden that I am willing to bear. Every vehicle on the roadway has strengths and weaknesses in different roadway situations, and bicycles are no different in that regard. The pillars on the door and between the door and windshield could not have been designed more effectively to obscure the view of traffic coming toward you (especially if they are in a turn lane) if such a thing was done intentionally.

Long haul truckers are certainly experts with all the nuances of the roadway: but don't forget they are seated much higher than most drivers and see much more of the roadway as a result. The shear bulk of their vehicles makes them more immune to suffering when they make a mistake, anyway; and most drivers (myself included) are so intimidated by their size we give them wide berth.
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Old 02-07-17, 10:06 AM   #12
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"When in doubt, don't pull out!"

Good way to end up with unwanted offspring.


Sorry. Just had to go there.
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Old 02-07-17, 10:36 AM   #13
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While true, it does put a lot of onus on cyclists to compensate for really bad driving habits, AND rather reinforces the notion that cycling IS dangerous... largely due to the poor habits of drivers.
Absolutely.

Be concerned about YOUR OWN SAFETY.

Mistake happen... do don't become a statistic of a "mistake" because you know you were "right".

Pay attention to other road users, and ride SAFE.
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Old 02-07-17, 12:03 PM   #14
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Long haul truckers are certainly experts with all the nuances of the roadway: but don't forget they are seated much higher than most drivers and see much more of the roadway as a result. The shear bulk of their vehicles makes them more immune to suffering when they make a mistake, anyway; and most drivers (myself included) are so intimidated by their size we give them wide berth.
I get passed by more short haul truckers than long haul truckers (log trucks, dump trucks, equipment hauling trucks, etc). Do buses count?

Most are reasonably good drivers, but they often don't like to let off of the gas (diesel). Although I think I've been passed by the same school buses a few times, and they're learning to safely maneuver around bikes.

The problem, of course, is that they are wider than other road vehicles, longer, and rear wheels don't necessarily track well behind the front. And, they can't stop on a dime. Don't be intimidated by them, but prudence indicates giving them a wide berth.
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Old 02-07-17, 01:30 PM   #15
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While true, it does put a lot of onus on cyclists to compensate for really bad driving habits, AND rather reinforces the notion that cycling IS dangerous... .
I think you and I basically agree that bicycling is safe, but safer yet when cyclists take charge of their own safety.

Like you I ride as if I were invisible. In fact, I ride so cars not only won't hit me but, to the extent it's possible, so that they couldn't hit me even if they tried.

I don't see taking charge as a matter of onus or admitting it's dangerous, or relieving drivers of their responsibility, I just see it as good common sense.

By analogy, I scuba dive using mixed gases. The the tanks are filled by someone who checks the mix and puts a sticker with the analysis onto the tank. Then another person checks the mix, and initials the sticker. On the boat, I attach my regs and check the mix a third time. Not because I don't trust the two other guys, but because, in the final analysis (no pun) I'm the one with the most at stake.

It's the same with biking in traffic. I trust other drivers, most of which is OK, but I do as much as possible to not depend on that trust because I'm the one with the most at stake.
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Old 02-07-17, 01:51 PM   #16
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Around here, the most dangerous drivers are the jokers sneaking a look at their phones and then drifting 2-3 feet to the right with their head looking down. No shoulders on the local roads. I wear a fluorescent salmon jersey, a rear view mirror on my helmet, and I'm always ready to escape to the right off the road. My main "cone of danger" is to my rear. I'm not too proud to bail out into someones driveway or front yard to let traffic go by.

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Old 02-07-17, 04:07 PM   #17
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Around here, the most dangerous drivers are the jokers sneaking a look at their phones and then drifting 2-3 feet to the right with their head looking down. No shoulders on the local roads. I wear a fluorescent salmon jersey, a rear view mirror on my helmet, and I'm always ready to escape to the right off the road. My main "cone of danger" is to my rear. I'm not too proud to bail out into someones driveway or front yard to let traffic go by.
I guy from the neighborhood we grew up in. Was hit head-on this way riding his motorcycle. He's a paraplegic now.
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Old 02-16-17, 07:20 PM   #18
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Just assume you're invisible most of the time - or better yet, are trying to fit in with a herd of bumbling rhinos. Ride even just a little while and you start to realize drivers don't know when you're next to them, behind them, waving to them, practically touching their mirror, or right in front of their texting face. Ride very carefully when just behind and to the right of cars, covering those brakes until you've ascertained if they intend to turn or are continuing onward. That area in the bike lane when you're stopped next to a car is a crucial make or break moment. You gotta try to put yourself out close to the crosswalk at the red to make yourself seen. And get out in front of everything as soon as it turns green - so that you're in that first driver's tunnel of vision.
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Old 02-20-17, 12:15 PM   #19
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cone of danger theory
yup I understand exactly what you're describing. I find a bright front strobe (even on sunny days) helps them notice me. and helps them realize the need to stop their car (no rolling stop) if I were "invisible" the driver would likely roll thru a stop sign right over me
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Old 02-20-17, 03:26 PM   #20
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What an RAF pilot can teach us about being safe on the road I like this article from the London Cyclist that points out problem areas of perception. If we can come to grips with limits of perception, we stand a much better chance of dealing with those limits.
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