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-   -   How safe is high-visibility clothing? (http://www.bikeforums.net/advocacy-safety/623722-how-safe-high-visibility-clothing.html)

njkayaker 01-21-13 01:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stealthammer (Post 15176933)
I use to believe that a solid red taillight was the most visible and safest, and that blinking was just confusing to drivers, until I tried a blinking light about ten years ago and I realized that I too was afforded more room by most passing motorists, and it even seemed to extend to using the blinking taillight during daylight hours. When I asked several co-workers who pass me often on my rides to/from work, each told me that the blinking light caught and maintained their attention better that just a sustained red glow.

It appears that humans notice flashing lights better, especially from long distances, than they do steady lights. If that wasn't the case, it's not likely that flashing lights would be the norm on things like emergency vehicles, airplanes, navigational aids, and towers.

I dont think drivers are confused by flashing bicycle lights either (they learn pretty-quickly what they represent). Anyway, being confused isn't necessarily a bad thing since they are aware of a thing to be confused by it. I suspect that some collisions are due to drivers being aware of the cyclist too late (later than they need to be able to avoid the cyclist).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stealthammer (Post 15176933)
I can offer no scientific analysis, but it does occur to me that more "non-natural" flashing warning lights flash for a reason, and since that has become customary in most traffic situation, people have been "programmed" to recognize the purpose of a flashing light. I have alway ridden since then with my taillght blinking and I am confident that it is a safer approach.

I tried looking for a reference. Still, there is a fair amount of flashing-light usage (emergency vehicles, airplanes, navigational aids, and towers) that indicates that they are useful for noticing things from long distances.

The longer the distance that something can be noticed increases the likelihood that it will, in fact, be noticed.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stealthammer (Post 15176933)
As for the florescent green vs bright yellow debate, again I would suggest that the florescent green used is a "non-natural" occurring color and it will stand out more than any other color commonly seen. I believe that this, and the fact that it was found to be more visible when seen through a smokey environment, is why many if not most, rescue/firetrucks used on airfields are painted this color.

Part of it is because yellow-green is not a common background color (kind of obvious).

Another reason is that yellow-green appears brighter to the human eye.

Quote:

A range of wavelengths of light stimulates each of these receptor types to varying degrees. Yellowish-green light, for example, stimulates both L and M cones equally strongly, but only stimulates S-cones weakly. Red light, on the other hand, stimulates L cones much more than M cones, and S cones hardly at all; blue-green light stimulates M cones more than L cones, and S cones a bit more strongly, and is also the peak stimulant for rod cells; and blue light stimulates S cones more strongly than red or green light, but L and M cones more weakly. The brain combines the information from each type of receptor to give rise to different perceptions of different wavelengths of light.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_vision

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eyesensitivity.png

jputnam 01-22-13 01:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by njkayaker (Post 15182046)
Bizarre.

It doesn't make sense to expect that drivers are making the calculation that it's less risky to collide with helmeted cyclists.

To someone who understands that magic foam hats are bunk, yes, it makes no sense.

To the general public who have been fed a line of crap about cycling being incredibly dangerous, and helmets being far and away the most important safety gear on a bike, it makes perfect sense to think that the risk of hitting a helmeted cyclist is lower -- without a helmet, you might kill them if you hit them!

Stealthammer 01-22-13 04:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by njkayaker (Post 15182111)
.....Another reason is that yellow-green appears brighter to the human eye.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_vision

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eyesensitivity.png

I found some very interesting information on those links. Thank you for posting them.

Ride Safe!

njkayaker 01-22-13 09:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jputnam (Post 15184332)
To someone who understands that magic foam hats are bunk, yes, it makes no sense.

To the general public who have been fed a line of crap about cycling being incredibly dangerous, and helmets being far and away the most important safety gear on a bike, it makes perfect sense to think that the risk of hitting a helmeted cyclist is lower -- without a helmet, you might kill them if you hit them!

:rolleyes: No, it makes no sense regardless. It's nutty. Drivers don't avoid accidents just to keep from killing someone.

cplager 01-22-13 12:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by njkayaker (Post 15185130)
:rolleyes: No, it makes no sense regardless. It's nutty. Drivers don't avoid accidents just to keep from killing someone.

I'm not saying I buy the theory, but if it is true, I don't think it is supposed to be a conscious decision on the part of the driver. Or, maybe, drivers look and see somebody who isn't wearing a helmet and somehow decide "Hey, that person is an idiot. I need to give them more room than usual."

njkayaker 01-22-13 01:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cplager (Post 15185631)
I'm not saying I buy the theory, but if it is true, I don't think it is supposed to be a conscious decision on the part of the driver.

There are other much-more-likely unconcious decisions that would explain the behavior. If you are going to guess at a hypothesis, guess a reasonable one. jputnam's "theory" is pretty wacky.

The "drivers choose to get close because there's no problem running into cyclists if you don't kill them" "theory" is really wacky.

Quote:

Originally Posted by cplager (Post 15185631)
Or, maybe, drivers look and see somebody who isn't wearing a helmet and somehow decide "Hey, that person is an idiot. I need to give them more room than usual."

I wouldn't express it that way but this one is more likely (as I said earlier).

cplager 01-22-13 02:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by njkayaker (Post 15185927)
There are other much-more-likely unconcious decisions that would explain the behavior. If you are going to guess at a hypothesis, guess a reasonable one. jputnam's "theory" is pretty wacky.

The "drivers choose to get close because there's no problem running into cyclists if you don't kill them" "theory" is really wacky.


I wouldn't express it that way but this one is more likely (as I said earlier).

I don't particularly like the original theory to begin with. :)

I've seem some news articles suggesting that the effect was real and others suggesting that it wasn't. I'm certainly not going to ride without my helmet because of it.

njkayaker 01-22-13 04:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cplager (Post 15186185)
I don't particularly like the original theory to begin with. :)

I've seem some news articles suggesting that the effect was real and others suggesting that it wasn't. I'm certainly not going to ride without my helmet because of it.

Note that I'm not saying that the phenomenon doesn't occur. I'm just talking about what explanations are being suggested for it.

As far as I know, there was one study by Ian Walker that showed the "close passes of helmeted riders" behavior (maybe, it was the first study).

It might be useful to read what he says about the limitations of the results he found (you might have to poke around for it).

http://www.drianwalker.com/overtaking/
http://bamboobadger.blogspot.com/200...rebuttals.html

Note that he (and others like the FDOT) showed closer passes to cyclists who were ostensibly male than to cyclists who where ostensibly female. Presumably, that means that drivers think that males are harder to kill!

http://www.trafficsafetycoalition.co...977-01_rpt.pdf

Keith99 01-22-13 04:31 PM

Re flashing lights.

The vast majority of animals notice things that are moving far better than stationary objects. A flashing light is just an extension of that.

While a cyclist is moving it is not really much relative to the background siince we are often going in the same direction as the car whose driver hasn't noticed us.

njkayaker 01-22-13 04:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Keith99 (Post 15186595)
Re flashing lights.

The vast majority of animals notice things that are moving far better than stationary objects. A flashing light is just an extension of that.

That's what I suspect as well (I just couldn't find a reference for it).

Here's some support for the idea that flashing lights are more conspicuous.

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/ca...1975023659.pdf

http://www.quora.com/Is-it-easier-to...ntinuous-light

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006JLVEn..30..156I
Quote:

Flashing lights are used for visual guidance lights for aircraft navigation and traffic signs for the aid of maritime transportation, as they are more conspicuous and distinguishable than fixed lights.
http://users.tpg.com.au/mpaine/buslight.html
Quote:

Flashing Signals - Lights may be made to flash. Contrary to popular belief, a flashing light is more difficult to detect initially than a steady one of the same intensity. However, once detected a flashing light is more likely to demand inquiry or be taken notice of than a steady light. In order to maintain the same signal range, the intensity of a flashing light will need to be increased over that of a steady light (Cole 1972, Holmes 1971).
Quote:

Originally Posted by Keith99 (Post 15186595)
While a cyclist is moving it is not really much relative to the background siince we are often going in the same direction as the car whose driver hasn't noticed us.

I also said that earlier.

ChloeP 01-23-13 07:42 AM

I wear a high vis vest, it might not be very stylish but then I don't need to look stylish while cycling. From the point of view of someone who used to drive a lot you should never wear black, not if you want to ride at night. I don't think a lot of cyclists realize how much they blend into their surroundings, they might feel that they're visible because they have lights and a couple of reflectors but when you have car lights, streetlights, lights from shops etc it can be really hard to see them.
A reflective vest wont stop you being killed, but it increases your chances of being seen in the first place and you do hear so many drivers claim that they didn't see them, it's often assumed to be the cyclists fault, so anything you can do is good.

Feldman 01-23-13 09:20 AM

Most of us on this forum probably drive, also--so what is your experience when driving? What is more visible to you from inside a car or on a motorcycle? I know that bright clothing is more visible without any doubt--I've seen it from the side that counts!

vol 01-23-13 12:34 PM

From my observation, if there are a lot of strong lights on the street, such as when you are riding among many vehicles, the reflective clothing you wear mingles with the surrounding lights so you are not so visible. It seems reflective clothing has the best effect when you are in the dark and only some few light sources are directed at you. Thus, neither too much light nor too little light would be helpful, and the few lights need to be directed in certain angle, so the scenario for reflective clothing to work is very limited. It is better than non-reflective, for sure, so good to be used as a back-up in case your bike lights stopped working (or were stolen). Just like the reflectors on the bike.

enigmaT120 01-23-13 02:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Feldman (Post 15188906)
Most of us on this forum probably drive, also--so what is your experience when driving? What is more visible to you from inside a car or on a motorcycle? I know that bright clothing is more visible without any doubt--I've seen it from the side that counts!

Blinkies, from the rear. I was riding my motorcycle to work one morning a couple of months ago and turned a corner to head east, where the sun was coming up. I saw a blinking red light at least a half mile away, as I had a long straight stretch there. I couldn't tell what it was until I got closer, but when I caught up it was a guy on a bicycle with a plain Planet Bike blinkie. I told him it worked.

trevoruk 01-29-13 10:31 AM

2 Attachment(s)
I think it important to be seen and be able to see no matter what I look like. Hi viz wear is my preference and rear view mirrors were practical along with good lights. I am trying out an helmet mirror I have just made, which surprisingly is very practical. I am relatively new to cycling and see the danger to cyclists much more now, than when I drove my car. It amazes me that some road bikers still choose not to take precautions. "See and be seen".
http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=296017http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=296018

daredevil 01-29-13 02:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by trevoruk (Post 15211832)
I think it important to be seen and be able to see no matter what I look like. Hi viz wear is my preference and rear view mirrors were practical along with good lights. I am trying out an helmet mirror I have just made, which surprisingly is very practical. I am relatively new to cycling and see the danger to cyclists much more now, than when I drove my car. It amazes me that some road bikers still choose not to take precautions. "See and be seen".
http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=296017http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=296018

the mirror is on the wrong side though right? You in north america?

sknhgy 01-30-13 08:19 PM

....

johnbol1 02-04-13 05:16 AM

I Liked the helmet mirror idea but couldn't get used to it being in my vision all the time to block potential front views. Maybe Ill give it another go, The general thought for me is anything that lessens the risk of a potential hit has gotta be tried at least.

John

krobinson103 02-04-13 06:06 AM

I have a a high vis white vest somewhere. Since my bike is lit up like a christmas tree anyway and I have reflective strips sewn into my bike gear I don't feel that it makes much difference. If however I'm wearing work clothes on a commute then its useful. :)

kookaburra1701 02-04-13 06:32 AM

I wear hi-viz yellow/green clothing because it's what I notice best when I'm driving. Same with blinkie lights.

I also wear it to make my/my family's lawyer's job easier if I ever am hit.

cplager 02-04-13 06:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by johnbol1 (Post 15234456)
I Liked the helmet mirror idea but couldn't get used to it being in my vision all the time to block potential front views. Maybe Ill give it another go, The general thought for me is anything that lessens the risk of a potential hit has gotta be tried at least.

John

You can also try handlebar mirrors. My handlebars are actually quite high relative to my head so this works extremely well for me (I ride a recumbent). This may or may not work out in your case, but it's certainly worth a try. I can't imagine riding without mirrors now.

daredevil 02-04-13 06:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kookaburra1701 (Post 15234529)
I wear hi-viz yellow/green clothing because it's what I notice best when I'm driving. Same with blinkie lights.

I also wear it to make my/my family's lawyer's job easier if I ever am hit.

that's always been my mantra as well....my family will own anybody in court that says they didn't see me. :thumb:

jputnam 02-05-13 09:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by johnbol1 (Post 15234456)
I Liked the helmet mirror idea but couldn't get used to it being in my vision all the time to block potential front views. Maybe Ill give it another go, The general thought for me is anything that lessens the risk of a potential hit has gotta be tried at least.

John

Adjust the helmet mirror so that it's out of your primary field of view -- I need to glance up just a bit to see mine.

It does block potential views of low-flying birds, but not of oncoming traffic.

Looigi 02-06-13 10:29 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by jputnam (Post 15241773)
Adjust the helmet mirror so that it's out of your primary field of view ....

http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=297742

RobertFalfa 02-13-13 09:44 AM

I question whether visibility is the most important factor in safety. If it is, there are coatings that will make your bike light up like a Vegas casino when a headlight hits it. One guy has added that coating to a lot of other safety features for an uber-safe ride--more of a demonstration project, I guess. (Check it out here: http://www.recreati.com/2013/01/25/toward-a-safer-bike/ ) It's an interesting argument about the chain cover. On the one hand, it seems like an unnecessary encumbrance. On the other, I have gotten clothes cut/caught in the chain, and I take care.


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