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Old 09-23-06, 11:08 AM   #1
mlh122
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Biking safely at sunrise/sunset?

Since sunrise is getting later and later my morning commute is getting more and more directly into the sun. its mostly a road going east with some slight hills that pretty much put you even with the sun, which means drivers can't see diddly squat. I woke up too late to ride today and noticed there were quite a few spots where I just couldn't see anything, so i slowed to about 25mph and stuck my head out the window and it worked. but i have a pretty clean windshield, i'd assume people with dirty windshields saw even less than me! is there a way to bike safely in these conditions? i'd hate to stop biking just because of sunrise. there is a bike path that goes most of the east/west direction, but that adds an extra 4 miles on to my commute.
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Old 09-23-06, 11:17 AM   #2
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I'd add the 4 miles - how long is the ride anyway? My commute lately (when it happens) has gotten me home 10 mins past sunset, and I leave about 10 mins before. That's enought light for me to see, and I have a bright LED on the front for visibility, and 2 pretty good blinkies mounted on the back, and wearning safety yellow vest. I don't have any spots either way that make me disappear in the sun, but if I did, I'd make whatever detour to avoid them.

If you can't see, and you care with a clean windshield - I wouldn't want to be out there with the average bleary folk flying blind and bearing down on me.....
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Old 09-23-06, 11:22 AM   #3
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my total commute is regularly 7 miles, so it'd be an extra 2 miles north to the bike path, then 2 miles south to work, but yeah then the bulk of the ride is on a bike path away from the road, in some parts the path is about 20 feet to the right and 10 feet above the road, and some places its level with the road but a fence and a creek separates them. and yep i keep a clean windshield, i have those windshield wipe cloths because i hate a foggy windshield, its like going through your day with smudged glasses.
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Old 09-23-06, 11:55 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlh122
is there a way to bike safely in these conditions?
No promises, but a high-powered strobe like the Nova BULL or the similar Whelen TIR3, combined with hi-vis clothing, would probably bring your chances up. The Nova has higher lens intensity than a car's low-beam headlight, includes police-style strobe modes that'll contrast with anything short of a bunch of police cruisers, and a wide beam that doesn't require the viewer to be precisely on your 6, just get it level. Photo below is at 4x zoom in sunlight from 100 meters, to give you some idea of the intensity (compare to the car headlights in the photo).


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Old 09-23-06, 12:47 PM   #5
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You didn't say much about the road. Is there a decent shoulder? If you feel it's not safe enough then take the path. It's better than taking the trip to the hospital I think.
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Old 09-23-06, 12:52 PM   #6
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theres a nice bike lane the whole way, but if someone's windshield is washed out by sunlight and dirt they might swerve, and taking the lane would seem even riskier. I might try the path tomorrow if i can leave earlier.
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Old 09-23-06, 01:04 PM   #7
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True. It's just a temporary route. The sun shouldn't be in that position too much longer.
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Old 09-23-06, 03:11 PM   #8
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arg i was just looking at maps, and the extra 2 miles south from the bike path to my work is on a road with no shoulder or bike lane, just a sharp drop off about 6 feet deep with a barbed wire fence about halfway down... nice, still maybe safer than the blinded drivers behind me
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Old 09-23-06, 07:02 PM   #9
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Far too often the "I didn't see him/her excuse/confession is tied to the rising or setting sun. Can you adjust your work hours?
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Old 09-23-06, 08:45 PM   #10
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Far too often the "I didn't see him/her excuse/confession is tied to the rising or setting sun. Can you adjust your work hours?
A cyclist died about a week ago because a driver was making a left turn towards the sun and hit him. Nope I can't change my work hours any time soon. Sometime after October I will be able to pretty much make up my own schedule within reason.
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Old 09-23-06, 09:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlh122
there is a bike path that goes most of the east/west direction, but that adds an extra 4 miles on to my commute.
That works for me.

Safer and puts more miles in my legs? Let's go!

jw
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Old 09-23-06, 09:36 PM   #12
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I think it is only a 20 or 30 minute periiod when the sun is coming over the horizon when this is a real problem. So I suggest starting earlier and use your mirror. If the traffic isnt continuous, keep riding, but pull off the road as cars approach from behind.
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Old 09-24-06, 01:24 AM   #13
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Take the other route, then when the sun (or the earth) changes positions, retake your regular route.
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Old 09-24-06, 04:47 AM   #14
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Regularly riding into the setting or rising sun when it's on a low angle or riding in a city with a lot of ambient light at night are the only two situations I can think of that I would consider a really, super bright taillight, like a Nova.

Other than that, I don't think there's a whole lot you can do besides take an alternate route.
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Old 09-24-06, 07:34 PM   #15
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Bummer not being able to change your hours. I definitely shift to an earlier schedule when it gets towards fall so I can ride in to work in complete darkness, and home in mid-afternoon. That was my only suggestion, until then use a mirror vigilantly.
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