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View Poll Results: Do you use a flag?

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  • Yes, but only cause somebody told me to

    1 2.44%
  • Yes, I'd never leave home without it

    0 0%
  • No, but I don't think it's uncool

    23 56.10%
  • No way Jose, over my dead body

    14 34.15%
  • I tried once but my bike rejected it!

    3 7.32%
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  1. #1
    mousse de chocolat Moose's Avatar
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    The ultimate in uncool safety gear...

    The flag!

    I ain't talkin' 'bout Old Glory niether, I mean that plastic orange triangle on the end of a whippy stick. I understand these are required on some road tours. Do any of you use them? Are there any states, cities, provinces...ect. that require them?

    Having recently moved to a more rural and hilly part of Ohio I am seriously contemplating using one of these for my own safety, forsaking all regard for coolness. I need assurance from some fellow bikers that this is the right thing to do



    Moose
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  2. #2
    Dances with Rocks Dirtgrinder's Avatar
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    I say the heck with coolness and what anybody else thinks. If you feel safer with it, use it.
    They aren't required in Missouri, but I have seen them occasionaly.
    If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough...

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  3. #3
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Moose,

    I read that a doctor who was concerned about the effects of actual head injuries of cyclists who had crashed began using a hockey helmet way back in the days before anyone wore a cycling helmet. He must have looked very uncool, but much cooler than someone who can no longer function normally due to a brain injury.

    Coolness is in the eyes of the beholder.

    Actually, a guy named Danny Y. posted your suggestion about flags a while back. I don't think it's a bad idea, if it helps you be seen better.

    I still occasionally see a cyclist on my route home who has everything: clipless pedals, jersey, shorts, cool bike, etc. Except one thing: helmet. I don't think he looks very cool.
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 07-28-01 at 01:10 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member nebill's Avatar
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    Well, I have to go along with everyone on this one. I don't use a flag, but I would if it was required or if I thought that it would help.

    My thoughts are this: human vision is programmed to notice moving objects. Therefore, a flag fluttering in the breeze stands a good chance of being noticed. However, there is a down side to this, as well. If you look at something, you will move toward it. Have you ever been riding along and seen a rock in the way? If you look at it, you will run over it, even when there is plenty of room to maneuver around it. When I went to motorcycle school, the instructor told us that if you put a rider on the edge of a large parking lot, and told him to ride circles around a traffic cone in the middle of the lot, if the rider watched the cone, the circles would get smaller and smaller untill the motorcycle eventually ran over the cone! If you subscribe to this school of thought, then a flag might actually lead to an un-skilled driver following the flag to it's source instead of avoiding it! Just something to think about!

    Might be interesting to put a flag on a bike and see if close calls lessen or increase.

    As far as helmets, I never leave home (on a bike) without one!!
    Keep Spinning!!
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    Bill, rider of classic Paramounts!

  5. #5
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nebill
    However, there is a down side to this, as well. If you look at something, you will move toward it. Have you ever been riding along and seen a rock in the way? If you look at it, you will run over it, even when there is plenty of room to maneuver around it
    When I see a rock or other obstacle, I try to look at the bare spot in the road I intend to use. This seems to work, and adds credence to the principle of avoidance, as you described it earlier, Nebill.

    This principle of avoidance has been used to promote the use of both flashing lights (blinkies) and reflectors simultaneously. Apparently, blinkies can get you noticed more quickly, but reflectors are easier to avoid.

  6. #6
    Carfree since '82. Grrr! JonR's Avatar
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    I've delayed responding to this question for fear of offending somebody, but I guess the time has come.

    (I couldn't respond to the poll because none of the answers reflected my feeling about the subject.)

    To me, a warning flag is similar to a bike path: serving to put down and marginalize the cyclist. If sources of danger on the road need to be flagged, why don't motor cars have to display orange or red flags?

    Also, the notion of having to display a special "badge" is too reminiscent to me of the way the Nazis treated minority groups, making them wear colored patches of cloth--and the same thing is being done in Afghanistan today, to the Hindu minority there.

    This may seem a far-fetched objection, but I invite you to think about it for a moment.
    On leave of absence as of March 13, 2002. Contact by email.

  7. #7
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    I agree with Jon R on this one. Why should cyclists be expected to put a flag on just to make a few redneck motoring primates happy?

    Chris
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  8. #8
    mousse de chocolat Moose's Avatar
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    Whoa Fellas,

    I wasn't aware of any movement by our oppressive anti-cylcing society to force us to use these flags. I think it's a matter of our safety, not their agenda to keep cyclists in the margins of society.

    If, by your response, you feel that using a flag offers no safety benefit, your answer to the poll should be "No way Jose..."

    Slow moving vehicles are required to have special markings. I don't want to hurt any feelings but bikes are slow moving vehicles on most roads.
    Last edited by Moose; 07-29-01 at 08:19 AM.
    I feel more like I do now than when I first got here.

  9. #9
    Carfree since '82. Grrr! JonR's Avatar
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    I could never understand why slow-moving vehicles needed a special marking, either. If a motorist can't tell by looking, that something is going slow, then perhaps the motorist should not be driving in the first place.

    And it's a matter of common sense to know that a bicycle never goes over 30 mph under normal conditions on a flat road. If a motorist can't tell that a bicycle is a bicycle, then--see above.

    But then, common sense is greatly frowned on in our society....
    On leave of absence as of March 13, 2002. Contact by email.

  10. #10
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Moose
    Slow moving vehicles are required to have special markings. I don't want to hurt any feelings but bikes are slow moving vehicles on most roads.
    Unless, of course you are picking your way through a traffic jam, knowing that the lard-butts are going to be there for some time yet!

    I also don't see why "slow-moving" vehicles should have to wear a flag or some other distinguishable thing. Why can't drivers just watch where they're going? It's not that hard, as they'd find if they just gave it a try for once.

    For the record, I replied "no, but I don't think it's uncool" in the poll. If someone wants to wear a flagpole or similar device that is their choice, but I don't want any legislation telling me that I have to do something that I feel offers me no additional protection. That is all.

    Chris
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  11. #11
    BikeForums Founder Joe Gardner's Avatar
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    I have thought about putting a flag on my bike, one that stuck out about 18" to the left of my bike, this would let car's know not to pass within 6" of me. If they do, the flag would hit there car, hopefully alerting them to the danger they are to cyclists. When riding in night, I would probably but a blinky on top of the flag. Im sure quite a few people already do this, I personally got the idea after seeing this setup on a touring bike, with full panniers.

  12. #12
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Moose,

    I relate to your inquest. I am open to realistic options that make my cycling trips safer in an environment that is focused narrowly on the convenience of the motoring public, but which maginalizes
    cyclists by offering them the vague option: "wear a helmet, use a reflector and a light."

    Every car is equipped with standard safety devices, such as horn, lights (two front, high and low beam w/directional standards, brake lights, backup lights, turn signals, reflectors, air-bags, safety-belts, and on, and on.) Also, motorists expect each other to behave in certain ways on the road (by law, and by habit.) Cyclists are often not even expected to be on the road, much less operate in a predictable fashion thereon.

    With complete understanding and acknowledgement of JonR's post about the "yellow stars" of the Nazi era, I would like to add that marginalizing cyclists can be done not only by giving them special legal requirements, but also by not giving them any requirements at all. If there was any better way of saying, "you don't belong on this turf," I don't know what it is (except for, maybe, requiring you to ride on a path.)

    Then again, as you said, flags are an option, not a requirement.

    I saw a tricycle (recumbent, low-riding) with a flag. I can picture a recumbent in traffic that is low enough to benefit from a flag that reveals its position amongst cars that obscure its location.

    Final analysis: use your own judgement. Too much safety is better than not enough, in a world in which cyclist's needs are not even considered.

    (JonR, I don't disregard the essence of your train of thought.)
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 07-29-01 at 08:25 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Bubba's Avatar
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    I too have considered the setup that Joe described. Especially when travelling on a busy road where people seem to feel that its OK, even necessary, to just squeeze in between you and oncoming traffic (obviously yielding more space to the oncoming traffic). I'm sure they would think twice if there was a chance that my flag might scratch their paint.

    Something that I've found gets me more space, especially when travelling uphill (i.e. slowly) is to just add a hint of wobble to my riding. If a motorist isn't confident that you have full control of your vehicle they will give you more space.
    Bubba

  14. #14
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Pete Clark
    With complete understanding and acknowledgement of JonR's post about the "yellow stars" of the Nazi era, I would like to add that marginalizing cyclists can be done not only by giving them special legal requirements, but also by not giving them any requirements at all. If there was any better way of saying, "you don't belong on this turf," I don't know what it is (except for, maybe, requiring you to ride on a path.)
    But what about the basic requirement to follow the road rules? What about rules saying you have to have lights at night? These are simple requirements that don't marginalise anybody. I still say that slow moving vehicles shouldn't be forced to display anything to indicate that. What about slow drivers?

    Chris
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  15. #15
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Chris,

    I guess my impression is that cyclists are basically not expected to be on the road at all, and so you can buy a bike with only tiny reflectors as standard equipment, whereas when you buy a car, everything you could need is standard. What better way of saying, "You are a toy, not a vehicle."

  16. #16
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    Regarding the slow moving vehicle sign, whatever form that might take.

    In my experience I have far more trouble with motorists underestimating my speed than overestimating it. The general concept seems to be bike=slow irrespective of my actual velocity, and they can therefore pull out of intersections in front of me, overtake and make that right turn in front of me, overtake on blind corners and almost overcook it and move into the oncoming lane etc. etc.

    Either way, all it takes is simple observation to ascertain the speed of other vehicles. If that is too difficult then perhaps, as JonR said, they shouldn't be driving in the first place. Making decisions based on assumptions rather than observation is a major cause of crashes on the road.

    Re: Flags. I use one on my kiddie trailer, but I'm not sure it makes a difference. It seems to be one of the most obvious things on the road with or without a flag, and draws a plethora of positive reactions everytime I take it out.

    I'd never use one on my bike, although I have considered a horizontal pole like the one mentioned, only with a knife blade attached to the end ;^)

  17. #17
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Allister
    Re: Flags. I use one on my kiddie trailer, but I'm not sure it makes a difference. It seems to be one of the most obvious things on the road with or without a flag, and draws a plethora of positive reactions everytime I take it out.

    I'd never use one on my bike, although I have considered a horizontal pole like the one mentioned, only with a knife blade attached to the end ;^)
    Oh, so that's what you were getting at in that post on "bike-oz" that time. I was wondering about that.

    Chris
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  18. #18
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Chris L


    Oh, so that's what you were getting at in that post on "bike-oz" that time. I was wondering about that.

    Chris
    O no. The things I had in mind were much nastier than that.

  19. #19
    NOT a weight weenie Hunter's Avatar
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    Well cool or uncool why should it matter. A cyclist should make every effort to make themselves as visible as possible. Lets face it how may times has someone here heard, "I did not see you"? I know I have heard it so much I can read lips when someone says it. Consider this you against a motor vehicle. You are doing 20mph. the motor vehicle is doing 40mph., when BAM! "I did not see you". as you lie there putting your organs back into some kind of order.

  20. #20
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Hunter
    Well cool or uncool why should it matter. A cyclist should make every effort to make themselves as visible as possible. Lets face it how may times has someone here heard, "I did not see you"?
    And how many times has "I did not see you" been used as a cop-out and an excuse for not paying attention. As was said earlier in the thread, if they can't see they shouldn't be on the road. What's next, road signs in braille for Stevie Wonder?

    Chris
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  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    Originally posted by Joe Gardner
    I have thought about putting a flag on my bike, one that stuck out about 18" to the left of my bike...
    There is a product out there like that with a micro-reflector coated flag. It clips onto the seat post. Their web site quotes some Canadian studies that show drivers gave the riders something like 6 to 12" greater clearance with the flag.

    I bought one for each bike in our family (6). The first time I rode with it, the flag swung around over the back tire and got sucked into the frame. Slick plastic stick and smooth metal seat post don't have enough friction to keep the flag to the side at anything over 10 mph. I plan to coat it with Shoe Goo (R) when I find them again (must be with the patch kit). I bought them off the Web and will forward the link if anyone is interested (I'm at home now and the bookmark is on my work PC).

    Kevin S.

  22. #22
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    I use a flag only when I am carrying a long load, like curtain rails or a plank of wood, but then I would do the same on a car with an extended load.

  23. #23
    BikeForums Founder Joe Gardner's Avatar
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    Kevin, please post the link in this thread when you find it, im sure a few of the members (and lurkers) would be interested in this product.

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Here is the link for the horizontal flags I mentioned earlier in this thread.

    http://www.flashback.ca/flashflag.html

    Kevin S.

  25. #25
    Out the door roadie gal's Avatar
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    I've only seen flags used with kiddie trailors and low recumbents. Until I read this, I hadn't even thought about it on a "regular" bike. I travel under the assumption that, right or wrong, I am invisible to cars. Anything that might make me more visible is good, cool or uncool. Alive and uncool sounds like a fine combination to me.

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