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Old 08-23-06, 12:42 PM   #1
sbhikes
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Cyclists I observed today and the lesson learned

Today I drove. I saw different bicyclists than I normally see. Here's what I noticed:

1. A cyclist riding over a bridge in the bike lane
2. A cyclist waiting for a light in the center of the traffic lane
3. A cyclist riding on the left edge of the road on a one-way street (this is legal)
4. A cyclist riding down the center of a left turn lane

The first three all had greenish-yellow high-visibility jackets on. I know that I saw many other cyclists but these three I specifically saw because of those jackets. I only noticed their lane position because that's the fixation on this forum. I think the jackets did way more for their visibility than lane position. Why? Because out of all the cyclists I saw, they were the ones I really noticed and didn't forget about.

The fourth cyclist didn't have any high visibility gear on.

Lesson learned? They were riding VC-style just fine despite the plethora of bicycle facilities in town, despite their apparent range of ages, races and genders, despite the type of bike or clothing they wore, despite the parts of town they were in, and despite the presence or absence of bike lanes on the roads they were using. Having plentiful roadway bike facilities does NOT preclude cyclists riding vehicularly.

Also, riding vehicularly or otherwise doesn't guarantee being noticed. High-visibility gear does a much better job of that!
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Old 08-23-06, 12:46 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing your observations.

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Old 08-23-06, 01:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
The first three all had greenish-yellow high-visibility jackets on.
Jackets, in California, in August? Has hell froze over?

I have to agree that high-viz reflective clothing is more important than lane position, based on my own experience since I started wearing Alert Shirts. I used to get folks who obviously didn't even notice me until they were right on top of me...even when I was in the center of the lane. Not so much any more.
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Old 08-23-06, 01:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
Also, riding vehicularly or otherwise doesn't guarantee being noticed. High-visibility gear does a much better job of that!
Almost the first thing I learned. I've always picked out jersies that stand out. I don't want the guy who hits me to claim he did not see me. That the glare blinded him I will accept.
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Old 08-23-06, 01:39 PM   #5
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Hi-vis gear helps, but really I think cyclists simply don't register in the minds of some drivers.

I wave to drivers when I meet them at intersections. I do not wave because I'm trying to make friends. I do it to wake them up from their driving trance.
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Old 08-23-06, 02:39 PM   #6
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OK, so maybe it's a superstition, but my experience has been that more cars come close to hitting me when I'm wearing hi-vis gear than when I'm not.

My only conclusion (since I totally agree that they make me much more visible) is that the cars who almost hit me have seen me and are mis-judging my speed or being aggressive (pull out in front of me, crowd me, cut me off, etc.), while on the days I'm not wearing hi-vis, the drivers don't even see me, so I'm harrassed less.

I'm having a full-on misanthrope day, can you tell?

But I'm a total supporter of hi-vis garb. Hooray for pigment technology.
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Old 08-23-06, 07:00 PM   #7
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Unfortunately, I saw something very different today. It was before daylight and I almost collided with two other bicyclist at a dark intersection in my housing edition. I had a headlight as well as a tail light while they had nothing. They barely passed a few feet in front of me and never looked back. If I had been a car, they would be road kill.
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Old 08-23-06, 08:15 PM   #8
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Humm....
I ride in a majority VC manner on fairly busy streets, as of late. No high vis shirts. Just my commuter jacket in the morning with the reflective piping.
My jerseys are bright yellow, medium red, and dark blue\black. What has the lack of hi vis clothing done for me? Nothing. I rarely have issues either way.
It just makes sense to wear reflective gear early in the morning.
What I do not understand is someone dressed with a helmet\reflective gear and they run red lights. Seems a tad contradictory.
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Old 08-23-06, 08:43 PM   #9
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why, they're more clearly seen by cross traffic, datajunkie!


i think visibility does SCADS more than lane position as we begin to commute into the dark months..... i've often times poised these types of questions around this forum, about lane position versus visibility devices, and which is more effective for early recognition by drivers, but get little from the resident grand poohbah of lane positioning himself.

no comment. its as if, admiting visibility works better than positioning is impossible for him to actually utter. its against his grey poupon imaginings from his armchair world.


i agree, the visibility of a bicyclist is MUCH MORE APPARANT, and from a much greater distance, than any lane positioning nuance. and ESPECIALLY at night or twilight....
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Old 08-23-06, 09:12 PM   #10
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All hail the powar of Fluorescent Lime!!

Another tricky visibility situation is when people are facing the sun as it comes down to the horizon. If their windshield is dirty or pitted, it's difficult to see through. If you have the setting or rising sun at your back, be especially on your guard for left-crosses or people pulling out into your path from side streets. If you have daytime-visible lights, turn them on.

The collision that totalled my Fuji Team sent me to the hospital (I turned out to be just banged up & scraped up). When the police officer came to let me know the outcome (he cited the driver), he asked if this was what I was wearing at the time? and noted the color of my helmet (orange) and of my shirt (white) in his report. Interesting, eh?
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Old 08-23-06, 09:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chipcom
Jackets, in California, in August? Has hell froze over?
heheh yeah it's pretty funny to watch people and their dress habits here. It's not uncommon to see people walking around in full winter parkas in the middle of August (or June or July for that matter) -- especially when it gets really cold -- like, below 70F
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Old 08-23-06, 09:51 PM   #12
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I've heard it snows when it gets below 60F
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Old 08-24-06, 06:13 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DataJunkie
What I do not understand is someone dressed with a helmet\reflective gear and they run red lights. Seems a tad contradictory.
Ya think?
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Old 08-24-06, 07:48 AM   #14
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occasionally. However, it hurts my bald head. Just don't tell my boss
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Old 08-24-06, 09:00 AM   #15
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I think hi vis stuff works better for sure. Good observations.

@ the person who observed more problems with close calls with it: people tend to move where they look. IF a person is staring at your hi vis (or your ass hehe) and is moving, they will move towards you! This is true for walking, driving, running, riding, or anything else where you are not on rails. This is why I find the instruction given to novice drivers to "look where you are going" or to "keep your eyes on the road" is so hilariously stupid that it cracks me up every time. The weaving driver IS looking where they are going; they are just not looking in the right places. And how exactly does looking at a piece of asphalt keep you from striking other road users exactly? Another favourite is "turn here" spoken well before a turn. It can result in some truly hilarious driving...
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Old 08-24-06, 11:56 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgtsmile
Another favourite is "turn here" spoken well before a turn. It can result in some truly hilarious driving...
It wasn't hilarious to the Korean who owned the store I turned into!
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