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Thread: Into the sun

  1. #1
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Into the sun

    It's that time of year for me again. Both ways--on the way to and from work--I have to ride right into the sun. The sun is between 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock in my eyes and if the horizon is noon, about 1 o'clock higher than the horizon. Who can see anything under these conditions?

    Yesterday the pavement was wet so when the sun shone on it I was completely blinded. Today at least the pavement was dry, but the sun still shone off it like glass in a few places.

    What's a gal to do? Is there a light that can penetrate the glare (and got any pics into the sun to prove it)? I'm afraid nobody could see me even if they tried because I can't see anything at all. And no WAY am I taking the lane for "conspicuity" purposes. I wouldn't be able to see a bus if it was right in front of me.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

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    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    I ride west in the morning, east in the PM, so while it is not in my eyes, it is in the eyes of left and right turning vehicles ahead of me who may not see me and turn into my path. Extra dilligence (speed control and evasive maneuver readiness) and full center lane positioning are essesential so they see me.

    The main problem it causes me however is making left merges as I can not make out traffic patterns behind me, nor tell if same direction traffic is yielding to my requests for a merge. Looking behind me or in my rear view all I see is a big blob of sun.

    Al

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Yeah I was quite surprised this morning as I rounded a corner and got the sun right into my glasses... just in front of me in the shade was a small black pickup truck doing a 3 point turn, so he was across the road. He was invisible. I only saw him at the last second.

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    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Polarised sunglasses help.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
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    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    For the next few weeks, you could start a little earlier and return a little later so that the sun angle is not a problem. Remember that if you have difficulty seeing, so will the motorists.

  6. #6
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    I head due east in the morning and due west in the afternoon, so I feel your pain. I'll take rain in the dark over bright sun anyday. Nothing is effective as far as I can tell, but here is what I do:

    1) Darkest glasses possible (real fun since I'm starting my ride before sunrise and coming home after sunset)

    2) Reposition helmet/glasses mirror to block sun

    3) Long visor on helmet helps some.

    4) In act of desperation, shield eyes with hand

    3 may not work for you because you have an upright riding position on your trike. I definitely belong to the "ride left" school of thought, but that rule does not apply in bright sun. When no one can see a damn thing, I ride to the right, put my radar on full alert, and get ready to bail. One more month of this crap and I'll be in the dark all the way.

  7. #7
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    It's ok if I can't see too well, but I'm thinking that if I can't see too well than neither can anybody else. And that's what I'm really worried about.

    The hardest thing are the silly sunglasses. I put on the gold lenses in the morning because the sun isn't very high at first, or else there is fog. Then out comes the sun and I'm blinded, but too lazy to stop and switch lenses again.

    I could leave earlier, but I'm telling ya, it's hard enough to leave at 7am already. And then what? Arrive at work early for a cup of that swill they call coffee? Blech!
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  8. #8
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    You could try mounting one of these on your bike.

    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
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    Senior Member bkbrouwer's Avatar
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    I'd be curious to see if a good red flashing light would help motorist see you. Anyone ever experiment with this? I guess it couldn't hurt to have one any way. Even if it hepls someone see you a second earlier it would be worth it.

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    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Maybe near sundown I'll try to set up a test scene using the Nova, and see if it shows up very much. I know a good location where I could lock the bike and it would be right near the setting sun.

    But realistically, in conditions like those, I think the safe bet is to pick an alternate route, or change your riding time a bit. Can you adjust your work hours a little bit?

  11. #11
    yes
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    No test scenes matter in this situation. If the person behind you has a dirty windshield, and conditions are right driving into the sun, they will suddenly be completely blind - completely blind.

    My personal rules regarding this.
    1. Ride at a different time.
    2. Ride at a different time.
    3. Ride at a different time.
    4. Riding into the sun means that people behind you may not see you at all -> ride to the right, lots of look-backs.
    5. Riding away from the sun means that people pulling out in front of you may not see you at all -> take the lane more often so that you have more room to maneuver.

  12. #12
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yes
    ride to the right
    ...
    take the lane more often
    I guess it's just "Ride at a different time"...

  13. #13
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    For the next few weeks, you could start a little earlier and return a little later so that the sun angle is not a problem. Remember that if you have difficulty seeing, so will the motorists.
    +1

    I'm glad my shift starts at 7, and that I ride west in the morning. I hope Diane finds a good solution, it's scary to disappear into the sun.
    No worries

  14. #14
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    As others have said, if you're able, shift your arrive/depart times. As soon as the sun gets below about 10* up in the fall (several weeks ago here) I shift to leaving at about 5:45 so I get all the way to work before it gets light at all.
    If the sun off the wet pavement is blinding, polarized glasses should cut a bunch of that. But that doesn't help the people behind you see you.
    I run a xenon strobe. A Nova Bull is another option but lots more expensive. I don't think either of those is going to be visible to drivers behind you in all situations; I've certainly been in places where I just COULD NOT see in front of me, and had to just watch the pavement lines, slow down and keep it between the lines and hope nothing was in front of me.

    If I'm forced into a riding into the sun situation, I just watch my mirror like crazy and prepare to bail if necessary. I haven't had to yet.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  15. #15
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    One thing you want to be aware of is that wht you're trying to achive in terms of being visibile is silhouette contrast. Thus having a bright light may not exactly help in that matter and may in fact be a detriment. If the sun is behind you then I think a light would actually produce the opposite effect of reducing the silhouette thus making you even more difficult to see. The effect was demonstrated during WW2 in an experimental project called Yehudi which focused on mounting lights on the the body and wings of divebombers to give them extra time when diving out of the sun to hit subs who were at the time able to submerge quicker than the attackers could mount an effective attack. The lights would help to mask their visual presence and thus reduce the detection range/time for the sub crew to react. Similar experiments were conducted decades later during the 1960s in a project called Compass Ghost to try and reduce the silhouette of the large F4 Phantom by strategically placing lights on it. The study found that they could reduce the detection range by as much as 30%.. At one time, during the Have Blue project which was the project that led to the development of the F117 Nighthawk stealth fighter, an active lighting scheme was also planned. Everytime people talk about DRLs and using lights to increase their visibility, I have to point out that what you're really trying to achieve is contrast and silhouette enhancement. Casting light may not always achieve this goal.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
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  16. #16
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Riding into the sun is certainly problematic as same direction drivers will find it (sometime much) harder to see you. They, as khuon pointed out, see silhouette. Drivers not wearing good eyewear (such as polarized sunglasses) and with dirty windshields, significantly compound the problem due to glare from road and windshield.
    The point about the silhouette is very important though. For a silhouette to be created one needs to be against the bright background. The only way this is possible is if you are in the line of sight from driver to bright sky/sun. Riding to the far right on (a perfect east/west road at solstice) ensures that you are near invisible as you eliminate the silhoutte. Drivers can't see you against the dark shadowy roadside trees, buildings, etc. Combined with dirty glare inducing windshields a cyclist to the far right creating no silhouette will certainly be invisible.
    This does not mean one must practice dynamic lane positioning to increase safety riding against sun, the other option is to use a xenon flasher and ride to the right, as in this case the flasher is not washed out against the bright sky/sun, but is constrasted against the darker peripheral view.
    Al

  17. #17
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    The trouble with the whole silhouette thing is that if the sun is bright and glaring enough, you won't be able to create a silhouette. So I wouldn't want to be in front of a car under those conditions.

    Regardless of whether I did choose to take the lane, I would have to move over to the side anyway to let people pass. I wouldn't consider it to be safe to stay in the lane as it would be difficult to ascertain whether they can see me, and whether the person behind them can see that there is slow traffic in front, and so on.
    Well, my experience is different as is how I use dynamic lane positioning from how your interpret it.
    In my experience (riding directly into a very low sun) I find I create a silhouette significant enough to cause most (but not all) approaching same direction vehicles (traveling at 45mph+) to notice me. Some move into adjacent lane (multilane road) some slow or move a bit right.
    But I don't rely on anyone seeing me - that would be stupid especially in those conditions. For those that appear like they don't see me I move right in sufficient time so that if they take no action (like they didn't see me) then I will not be in their path. Of course this puts me at the same risk as if I had been far right and they didn't see me in that case. For those that do seem to see me I move right if safe (except for the cases when the driver moves fully into adjacent lane)
    As to being able to tell driver reaction from my centerish position I find it most easy in this low angle light condition as the low light illuminates the view behind me so very well (and I enjoy looking behind me more as the view to the front is so bright. )
    One thing is certain, I am more (but still not very) likely to be seen as a dark silhoutte against a bright sky, than a dark shadow against a dark roadside with glare in the observers window.

    Al

  18. #18
    SSP
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    Last week I was riding eastbound towards my office. The sun had only been up about 1 hour, and was about 20 degrees to the right of my direction of travel...so, there was quite a bit of backlighting.

    I recently purchased a Planet Bike Superflash Blinky and it was running in flash mode. After arriving at work, my office mate mentioned that he could see my flasher at about 100 meters distance, even with the sun in his eyes.
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    SSP
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    I of course use DLLP, which means riding in the traffic lane looking for an indication in my mirror that motorists approaching me from behind have noticed me. Whether they notice me or not, of course I get out of the way before it's too late. If it's so bad that they are not noticing me even when I'm in their path, then I get off the road, and getting home takes a bit longer (only a bit because the sections where the sun is that bad are typically not very long).
    How can you tell that the driver "noticed" you? Do they start weaving too? Or, do they flash their lights at you?

    And, with the sun in the driver's eyes and the possiblity of windshield glare, why wouldn't you monitor the overtaking drivers from the bike lane instead of riding in the traffic lane?

    Riding in the traffic lane, under conditions in which drivers' vision is obscured, seems pretty stupid.
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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSP
    How can you tell that the driver "noticed" you? Do they start weaving too? Or, do they flash their lights at you?
    • Driver slows down a bit, which can been seen and/or heard (the pitch emitted by turning tires and/or engine changes when a car slows down)
    • Driver adjusts laterally, left. If another lane is available, often they'll change into it. Sometimes they just adjust left in their lane a bit, I adjust right, they adjust a bit more left... it's a dance and by the time they overtake me I've been in the bike lane for a while.
    • They honk (very rarely).
    • They flash their lights (even more rarely).
    • Some combination of the above.


    And, with the sun in the driver's eyes and the possiblity of windshield glare, why wouldn't you monitor the overtaking drivers from the bike lane instead of riding in the traffic lane?
    Because they are much more likely to give me an indication that they have noticed me if they noticed me in their intended path then if they notice me in the bike lane.

    Riding in the traffic lane, under conditions in which drivers' vision is obscured, seems pretty stupid.
    Remember, I'm out of the traffic lane well before they reach me. And, if their vision is likely to be very obscured, I'm probably not going to be on the road at all. If it's too dangerous to be in the traffic lane, it's too dangerous to be in the bike lane.

  21. #21
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    The trouble with the whole silhouette thing is that if the sun is bright and glaring enough, you won't be able to create a silhouette. So I wouldn't want to be in front of a car under those conditions.

    Regardless of whether I did choose to take the lane, I would have to move over to the side anyway to let people pass. I wouldn't consider it to be safe to stay in the lane as it would be difficult to ascertain whether they can see me, and whether the person behind them can see that there is slow traffic in front, and so on.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  22. #22
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I don't think silhouette is the answer either. When I've been blinded by a low sun, it's because the sun is lighting up my dirty windshield and I can't see anything at all. The only thing that helps is when the sun isn't hitting the windshield anymore. A cyclist is unlikely to cast a shadow right on the windshield in front of the driver to help with that.
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  23. #23
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    I of course use DLLP, which means riding in the traffic lane looking for an indication in my mirror that motorists approaching me from behind have noticed me. Whether they notice me or not, of course I get out of the way before it's too late. If it's so bad that they are not noticing me even when I'm in their path, then I get off the road, and getting home takes a bit longer (only a bit because the sections where the sun is that bad are typically not very long).

  24. #24
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    Sometimes when the sun is in such a position as to cause bad glare on motorist windshields, it also renders use of a helmet mirror extremely difficult. I have one stretch on my commute where this will soon be an issue in the morning at my normal time. Since it is a narrow high speed lane with NO shoulder I'm planning on not riding it at that time.
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    i use bolle-edge prescription sunglasses; got multi-lenses (amber, clear, and mirrored tint). i need to start using these glasses myself (have been AM/PM sun blinded too!).

    -concern: are car/truck drivers "side-tracked" blinded by the sun too? (another "i didn't see"...excuse)?

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