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  1. #1
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    I feel making myself more visible at night has been counter-productive.

    This is my second winter road cycling, and the majority of my winter riding is done at night. Last year I had reflective tape all over my helmet, a MagicShine 900 on my handlebars, reflectors on the back of my shoes, and one or two red blinkies underneath my seat. People generally gave me tons of room when passing, and for a while I felt much safer riding at night than during the day.

    For this winter I added to all of that a second rear blinky by my left rear dropout while still keeping one under my seat, and added a ton of reflective fabric to my jacket to the point where it probably looks like I'm wearing one of those construction worker safety vests. My goal was to make myself more visible to motorists and make my arms more visible for hand signals.

    However I've found over the last two months that I've been riding with this setup cars are passing me significantly closer (although not getting buzzed), and trying to take the lane to prevent unsafe passes has been far less effective than the rest of the year. I feel that I've removed all uncertainty of my position on the road, causing drivers to pass me more confidently (and more closely!).

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Time for a Dinnotte 140L tail light.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member oban_kobi's Avatar
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    ^?

    That's interesting...perhaps try going to back to last winters setup, and compare the space you're given. Maybe people are just less likely to give you space this year.
    This is super seriously.

  4. #4
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    I'd like to chalk it up to just holiday traffic, as this week (and today's daylight ride in particular) have been even worse, but this has been since November or so when I started riding almost exclusively at night. I'm also riding the same time, which is around 6-7PM after rush hour is mostly done.

    I'd love to try a reflector-less jacket to compare, but I only own one.

  5. #5
    Randomhead
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    I don't think it really follows that they are passing closer because of the reflective gear. I see no rhyme or reason for this sort of trend. I'll go through periods where everyone that passes me is great and periods where everyone that passes me acts like an idiot.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Well my theory is now they have an even better idea of where I am on the road, whereas before I was probably a floating blinking red light until they got close.

  7. #7
    No, your OTHER left!! bikenut2011's Avatar
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    Bright blinkies... reflective Jacket... ride in a predictable, responsible manner... everything else is out of your hands, my friend. Pray alot, thats what i do everytime i take to the road. Worked for me tonight, i was hit by an idiot driver and suffered no injuries but some bike damage.

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  8. #8
    Bicikli Huszár sudo bike's Avatar
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    Interesting theory. But correlation =/= causation. Could just as easily be coincidence at this point.

    You could be right though, who knows. Drivers are whacky people sometimes.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member jputnam's Avatar
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    Just a thought, get someone else to mount your bike with your reflective jacket and all your lights on, and you drive up from behind.

    There can be such a thing as "too bright" -- if you're so bright that drivers have to look away to preserve their night vision, they won't see as clearly the passing distance they're providing, much like some drivers unintentionally swerve towards oncoming motorists who have their high beams on.


    On the other hand, national sentiment surveys show consumers are stressed out and angry this year due to the economy, so it could just be people aren't feeling as charitable when passing you.
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  10. #10
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Indeed, there is a well known effect that people are drawn to where they look. Target fixation. If your new jacket grabs too much attention that would be causing people to drive closer to you. Personally, I suspect extremely bright tail-lights are counter-productive for this reason... You want to be visible, but not end up like a UFO that everybody is going to stare at trying to identify.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    Indeed, there is a well known effect that people are drawn to where they look. Target fixation. If your new jacket grabs too much attention that would be causing people to drive closer to you. Personally, I suspect extremely bright tail-lights are counter-productive for this reason... You want to be visible, but not end up like a UFO that everybody is going to stare at trying to identify.
    The folks on the motorized couches won't "target fix" on you if you put a nice, bright Dinotte on the rear (a 140R, or even a 300R). They are too bright to look directly at, so the motorists tend to both look away (actually forward, keeping you in their peripheral vision) and steer away from you. Dimmer rear lights, like PB superflashes, are dim enough that drivers will just stare and steer towards them.

    At least, that is my experience. Motorists may be different where you live.

  12. #12
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    The folks on the motorized couches won't "target fix" on you if you put a nice, bright Dinotte on the rear (a 140R, or even a 300R). They are too bright to look directly at, so the motorists tend to both look away (actually forward, keeping you in their peripheral vision) and steer away from you. Dimmer rear lights, like PB superflashes, are dim enough that drivers will just stare and steer towards them.

    At least, that is my experience. Motorists may be different where you live.
    Hm, if you say so. I've not had any complaints of lack of visibility when riding with a PB superflash. I once thought about getting the dinotte for riding dark country roads, but i haven't been up to that lately.

  13. #13
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    I think you should stop the flashing and go steady and see what that does. I actually find that motorists gave me more room at night then during the day.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob! View Post
    This is my second winter road cycling, and the majority of my winter riding is done at night. Last year I had reflective tape all over my helmet, a MagicShine 900 on my handlebars, reflectors on the back of my shoes, and one or two red blinkies underneath my seat. People generally gave me tons of room when passing, and for a while I felt much safer riding at night than during the day.

    For this winter I added to all of that a second rear blinky by my left rear dropout while still keeping one under my seat, and added a ton of reflective fabric to my jacket to the point where it probably looks like I'm wearing one of those construction worker safety vests. My goal was to make myself more visible to motorists and make my arms more visible for hand signals.

    However I've found over the last two months that I've been riding with this setup cars are passing me significantly closer (although not getting buzzed), and trying to take the lane to prevent unsafe passes has been far less effective than the rest of the year. I feel that I've removed all uncertainty of my position on the road, causing drivers to pass me more confidently (and more closely!).
    All I can say is, to take the lane regardless of how much they get their pants in a bunch.

  15. #15
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    If they could not see you with one blinky, the second one is probably not going to help, the reality is an alert driver with their lights on should be able to see you irrespective. Alternatively a distracted driver will not see you no matter what your lights are doing.

    You may be making yourself an interesting attraction causing drivers to turn their head to see you, causing the car to drift into the direction they are looking.
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  16. #16
    Slowpoke
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    Interesting you say looking like a construction worker safety vest. That's exactly what I wear. I've been putting reflective bands on my left wrist lately just to make signals more visible.

    This is an area with a lot of bikes. I find drivers are mostly good, maybe even the good drivers outnumber the good bike riders. Maybe. My wife complains about the bikes running red lights and the like. She works closer to campus than I do.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    I tend to agree with B.Carfree's comment.

  18. #18
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob! View Post
    ...where it probably looks like I'm wearing one of those construction worker safety vests. My goal was to make myself more visible to motorists and make my arms more visible for hand signals.

    However I've found over the last two months that I've been riding with this setup cars are passing me significantly closer ...
    Fist you need to discount a week before and a few days after Thanksgiving and Christmas, these are known to have increases in aggressive driving. Next, the goal should be to look like a cyclist (or at least a NASCAR driver) over a construction worker. IMHO the key here is to have reflective material on the lower legs. Personally, my winter cycling jacket has a big reflective logo on the back and I wear reflective leg straps besides having a BP Superflash.

    My 2 cents anyway.
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  19. #19
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
    I think you should stop the flashing and go steady and see what that does. I actually find that motorists gave me more room at night then during the day.
    You need a steady to be seen, and a blinky to catch attention. I go with both. Frankly if you do look like a UFO, all the better.

  20. #20
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    You need a steady to be seen, and a blinky to catch attention. I go with both. Frankly if you do look like a UFO, all the better.
    Actually I do have both. My Mars 4 is on steady, but my barends flash as does the helmet one. I do the same on the front, I have main bar light and a helmet light on steady of course, and an amber flasher. But the point I was making is that if you have just one tail light is to leave that one on steady, it's less confusing for drivers.

  21. #21
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob! View Post
    Well my theory is now they have an even better idea of where I am on the road, whereas before I was probably a floating blinking red light until they got close.
    That's what I'd think, too. Try last year's setup and see if anything's different.

  22. #22
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    I ride with a Dinotte headlight and tail light. I wear a Xinglet and reflective ankle bands. At night, my route takes me on a 55+ mph two lane road with moderate traffic, as well as residential streets.

    Cars consistently act as if they do not know what I am, but they'd better stay away from me. They slow upon approach, pass wide, then accelerate away.

    I'm almost always given a much wider pass than the same route in the day time.

  23. #23
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Car View Post
    Fist you need to discount a week before and a few days after Thanksgiving and Christmas, these are known to have increases in aggressive driving. Next, the goal should be to look like a cyclist (or at least a NASCAR driver) over a construction worker. IMHO the key here is to have reflective material on the lower legs. Personally, my winter cycling jacket has a big reflective logo on the back and I wear reflective leg straps besides having a BP Superflash.

    My 2 cents anyway.
    Yes! I read a study which says reflective gear which displays "bio motion" such as strips on your shoes, pants cuffs or wheels is almost instantly recognizable as a cyclist. If you just have it on your back you might look like a construction pylon, mailbox or something. The blinking light, I feel, attracts attention more than the steady one and saves your batteries! The human eye is quite sensitive to light so unless freeway like speeds are a factor I skip the ultra-bright tail-light. Getting a bright head-light with high lux was a great investment.

  24. #24
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    Yes! I read a study which says reflective gear which displays "bio motion" such as strips on your shoes, pants cuffs or wheels is almost instantly recognizable as a cyclist. If you just have it on your back you might look like a construction pylon, mailbox or something. The blinking light, I feel, attracts attention more than the steady one and saves your batteries! The human eye is quite sensitive to light so unless freeway like speeds are a factor I skip the ultra-bright tail-light. Getting a bright head-light with high lux was a great investment.
    Except for one problem, it's already been proven that flashing red lights make it more difficult for most drivers to distinguish distance from them to the light by underestimating and drunken drivers are attracted to flashing lights. But it's all weird stuff because in the daytime flashing red is better. But it seems no one really knows absolutely which way is better, and that's one of the reasons I went with one steady and three flashing.

  25. #25
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
    Actually I do have both. My Mars 4 is on steady, but my barends flash as does the helmet one. I do the same on the front, I have main bar light and a helmet light on steady of course, and an amber flasher. But the point I was making is that if you have just one tail light is to leave that one on steady, it's less confusing for drivers.
    Yeah but that one light is also less likely to get their attention... so you have to consider, do you want them to know where you are, if they have noticed you, or to notice you and be aware that you are "somewhere" over there.

    As far as flashing barends... how bright are they really... the few barend flashers I have seen seemed more like a novelty than a real flasher.

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