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Old 12-20-06, 07:35 PM   #1
Tom Stormcrowe
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Opinion requested: Re safety and driver psychology.

I'll be touring this spring, and instead of panniers and such, I'll be using a child carrier trailer. I know a Bob or a Burley cargo trailer will be more efficient, but I am using this to test the hypothesis that I will be given more road clearance by the drivers, thinking I have kids in the trailer.

Anybody care to make a prediction as to the result?
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Old 12-20-06, 07:46 PM   #2
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A 'baby on board' safety triangle might increase your chances further, and if someone calls you on it, ensure you have some trinket that you can say is your 'baby'.
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Old 12-20-06, 08:20 PM   #3
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http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php...84#post3152284

people DO tend to give you more room when passing when you have a trailer, in my experience
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Old 12-20-06, 08:25 PM   #4
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Unless you have a line on a free/loaner kids trailer, I think most folks would make the assumption that any covered trailer has a kid in it. If you are going to spend money, I would buy a general purpose one you could use for all kinds of hauling.
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Old 12-20-06, 08:30 PM   #5
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In my experience, they not only give more room, but smile and wave. At stops, they ask where I got it and how much it cost.

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Old 12-20-06, 08:31 PM   #6
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I dont think anyone takes the time or drives close enough to read a "Baby on Board" sign. People drive into you whem they a paying zero attention - bright flashing light may jerk them into conciousness.
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Old 12-20-06, 08:46 PM   #7
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Cool, I'm planning to apply for a research grant from INDOT, I already have the trailer, just picked it up used in new condition. The grant will cover the camera system and cost of the trip, (and the State of Indiana pays for a two week or so Bike tour!), assuming I get the grant!If not, it'll make for some other purpose.....article maybe, who knows!
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Old 12-20-06, 08:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
Cool, I'm planning to apply for a research grant from INDOT, I already have the trailer, just picked it up used in new condition. The grant will cover the camera system and cost of the trip, (and the State of Indiana pays for a two week or so Bike tour!), assuming I get the grant!If not, it'll make for some other purpose.....article maybe, who knows!
Where ya riding to and when, Tom, maybe we'll meet up on the road. My new company owes me a ton of vacation and comp time, so I was thinking of riding out to NM to visit friends this year.
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Old 12-20-06, 09:04 PM   #9
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I was thinking through to Evansville, over to the SE corner, over into Cincinnati, cross back in and up to Fort Wayne, over to Toledo, then back to Lafayette. I'll post a route before I go as well as an itinerary. I'll also try to post occasionally from the road!
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Old 12-20-06, 11:13 PM   #10
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My experience is that drivers are much more courteous when I have a trailer. The inescapable conclusion is that when you don't have a trailer, they're not just oblivious, they really are jerks!

How are planning to quantify this effect for your research?
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Old 12-20-06, 11:34 PM   #11
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A child trailer has all of the following conspicuity advantages:
  • large, bright and visible
  • drivers think there is a child "out there" (OMG!)
  • unusual
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Old 12-21-06, 09:56 AM   #12
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A child trailer has all of the following conspicuity advantages:
  • large, bright and visible
  • drivers think there is a child "out there" (OMG!)
  • unusual
My point exactly! Mein Götte! We're in agreement twice in a week? The Apocalypse must be near!
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Old 12-21-06, 12:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chipcom
A 'baby on board' safety triangle might increase your chances further, and if someone calls you on it, ensure you have some trinket that you can say is your 'baby'.
These things piss me off. It is as if the driver thinks their kid is more important than anyone else (and that others should think that drivers kid is more important).

But there is one I like a lot. Same kind of layout except it says "Caution, driver under influence of children".
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Old 12-21-06, 05:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chipcom
A 'baby on board' safety triangle might increase your chances further, and if someone calls you on it, ensure you have some trinket that you can say is your 'baby'.
Usually when I see a car with a baby on board triangle, the driver has either just done, or is doing something really stupid, like cut off a semi, or following a truck too close, or hiding in one of the trucks blind spots.....
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Old 12-21-06, 05:37 PM   #15
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It has been my experience too that drivers will give me a wider berth when I'm pulling the Wonder Twins' Chariot. During the summer I'll occasionally take the kids to daycare in the Chariot. My route from the house to daycare is pretty sparse of motor traffic but after dropping them off, I cut right through the heart of downtown on a major arterial street. The Chariot is empty of course, but some of the drivers' reactions to a guy pulling a trailer on a city street at 20+ mph.... Great fun.
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Old 12-21-06, 11:54 PM   #16
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I get significantly more room with what is obviously (to me) a cargo trailer. But around here an adult on a bike, on the road, and towing a trailer, well that's like an alien space ship just landed. you wouldn't beleive the reactions I get.
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Old 12-22-06, 12:09 AM   #17
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I'm not following the logic in this thread- help me out here. I'm a minimalist when it comes to cycle touring and if we've gotten to the point where we need to cart trailers behind us for an illusion of safety then cycling is a much more dangerous activity than most of us could ever have imagined.

is it worth it to trade the ease and maneuverability of a bike with a set of panniers for a bike with a two wheeled trailer in order to achieve what amounts to a perception of safety?

How much stuff are you intending to tour with? What kinds of roads are you planning on riding?

I'd think a good brightly colored choice of jerseys with brightly colored panniers and, if you feel it's necessary, an orange triangular flag on a fiberglass rod perpendicular to the bike would more than suffice to making you visible.

I mean are you worried someone will hit you intentionally? and that they would be less likely to do so if they thought you had a kid in a trailer behind you?

Last edited by buzzman; 12-22-06 at 12:20 AM.
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Old 12-22-06, 01:02 AM   #18
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I have found that I'm given more room when being passed if I'm towing a trailer. Whether it be my Burley Solo child trailer, Burley Flatbed utility trailer, or Wike Woody Wagon canoe trailer doesn't matter.

A child trailer makes a pretty good covered utility trailer, but the seat cuts down on space for hauling bulky items.
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Old 12-22-06, 06:41 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by buzzman
I'm not following the logic in this thread- help me out here. I'm a minimalist when it comes to cycle touring and if we've gotten to the point where we need to cart trailers behind us for an illusion of safety then cycling is a much more dangerous activity than most of us could ever have imagined.

is it worth it to trade the ease and maneuverability of a bike with a set of panniers for a bike with a two wheeled trailer in order to achieve what amounts to a perception of safety?

How much stuff are you intending to tour with? What kinds of roads are you planning on riding?

I'd think a good brightly colored choice of jerseys with brightly colored panniers and, if you feel it's necessary, an orange triangular flag on a fiberglass rod perpendicular to the bike would more than suffice to making you visible.

I mean are you worried someone will hit you intentionally? and that they would be less likely to do so if they thought you had a kid in a trailer behind you?
No, I'm not worried about getting hit intentionally. I am referring to perceptions of the drivers and whether or not they will allow additional room. The reason for the trailer to pull the gear is because my wife isn't the strongest rider in the face of the planet, so I'll be pulling the bulk of the gear.....I am a far stronger rider than her. I just want to give her maximum enjoyment on her first tour. The other aspect is that the wife's ride, a delta config recumbent trike, isn't really suited to panniers. We're planning a tour through Indiana, totaling about 700 miles in a big loop on secondary and county roads. The perception "experiment aspect is that I am also going to try to use my major in the college to partially fund this tour as an experiment into driver psychology. It may yield useful data as well!~
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Old 12-22-06, 08:50 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by DCCommuter
My experience is that drivers are much more courteous when I have a trailer. The inescapable conclusion is that when you don't have a trailer, they're not just oblivious, they really are jerks!

How are planning to quantify this effect for your research?
Even for jerks, Babies bring out the lamb in people. Enjoy it while you can i.e., before the jerks realize there's no baby on onboard
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Old 12-22-06, 10:45 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
No, I'm not worried about getting hit intentionally. I am referring to perceptions of the drivers and whether or not they will allow additional room. The reason for the trailer to pull the gear is because my wife isn't the strongest rider in the face of the planet, so I'll be pulling the bulk of the gear.....I am a far stronger rider than her. I just want to give her maximum enjoyment on her first tour. The other aspect is that the wife's ride, a delta config recumbent trike, isn't really suited to panniers. We're planning a tour through Indiana, totaling about 700 miles in a big loop on secondary and county roads. The perception "experiment aspect is that I am also going to try to use my major in the college to partially fund this tour as an experiment into driver psychology. It may yield useful data as well!~
Tom,

Your explanantion makes sense to me now particularly in that you will be carrying most of the equipment and travelling with someone on a recumbent trike. In that case, the two wheeled trailer will present a profile that will more than likely signal auto drivers to give wide berth to you and your wife.

I went to your web site and was duly impressed with your more personal journey as well. The psychology of both the drivers and the bike riders is fascinating to me. Have a wonderful time!


Best of luck,

Buzzman
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Old 12-22-06, 11:06 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
I'll be touring this spring, and instead of panniers and such, I'll be using a child carrier trailer. I know a Bob or a Burley cargo trailer will be more efficient, but I am using this to test the hypothesis that I will be given more road clearance by the drivers, thinking I have kids in the trailer.

Anybody care to make a prediction as to the result?
There's some nut job in our town that I've seen towing a trailer with a doll in it, presumably with the same logic. Here's my take:

1) You will be unusual. Anything unusual gets more room and less hostility for the simple reason the curiosity displaces other emotions. For example, I have yet to have a hostile experience in my velomobile. Even people who are often hostile to cyclists (e.g. young rural males) are intrigued by it.

2) Some people will think it is a kid. People who don't care about you might care about victimizing some innocent child

3) It makes you appear wider. You actually need the same amount of space, but they'll cut you more room. BTW, you can achieve this same effect simply by having something sticking out about 18" on each side of your rack. I am considering putting up homebrew side lighting (e.g. strap a length of PVC to the top of my rack and put a light at each end) on my regular commuter.
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