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  1. #1
    Vegan on a bicycle smasha's Avatar
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    No lights & dark clothing = DOA

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/ar...ectid=10726639
    John Mayers was riding near Blenheim at about 12.30am when he was hit by the heavy van, which was travelling in the same direction.

    He was pronounced dead after being taken to Wairau Hospital by ambulance.

    An initial investigation into the crash revealed Mr Mayers was wearing dark clothing and had no lights on his bike, police said.
    i feel bad for the guy driving the van. he's gonna have a hard time dealing with this.

    NZ law (and common sense) requires lights and reflectors when riding at night. and this was on a highway, not some back-road. based on this report, it's hard for me to have any sympathy for the guy on the bike.

    keyword: ninja
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  2. #2
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smasha View Post
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/ar...ectid=10726639
    i feel bad for the guy driving the van. he's gonna have a hard time dealing with this.

    NZ law (and common sense) requires lights and reflectors when riding at night. and this was on a highway, not some back-road. based on this report, it's hard for me to have any sympathy for the guy on the bike.

    keyword: ninja
    Now that you have wee-wee'd on the cyclist's grave, do you feel better?

  3. #3
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Now that you have wee-wee'd on the cyclist's grave, do you feel better?
    Now that he's possibly put a thought into the head of some other cyclist who may have been riding like that, or provided a link to a story that someone might use to convince someone else riding in this way to at least use a light or a $4 reflective vest, and therefore possibly used this guy's death to prevent others, I'd say he would be justified in feeling better if he wants to.

    IMO the purpose of forums like this is to share information, particularly information on staying safe. Cautionary tales are an effective means of doing so.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Now that you have wee-wee'd on the cyclist's grave, do you feel better?
    While I realize that double standards are de rigueur when it comes to Advocacy, I have to agree with the O.P. Doing a Ninja ( 12:30AM? Dark clothes? No lights? ) is a sure way to a Darwin award. It's not like we're even talking about some addled teenager who hasn't quite gotten over his invincibility complex.

    In this case, it's the driver who is the victim.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smasha View Post
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/ar...ectid=10726639
    i feel bad for the guy driving the van. he's gonna have a hard time dealing with this.

    NZ law (and common sense) requires lights and reflectors when riding at night. and this was on a highway, not some back-road. based on this report, it's hard for me to have any sympathy for the guy on the bike.

    keyword: ninja
    There is something about this crash that I am curious about. That is this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclist killed near Blenheim named
    It found he had biked in front the van and the driver did not have time to avoid the collision.
    Other than wearing dark clothes and not having lights/reflectors was he riding legally, or is it being suggested that he just swerved into the motorists path? Also what was the lighting situation like? Were there street lights on the road? What about the moon, was it out and providing illumination?

    I've seen ninja's out on the road and in most cases there is enough ambient light present to recognize that there is something in front of you from a reasonable distance.

    I agree with you that I feel bad for this driver, I also feel bad for the cyclists family. As, as has been said in the past the cyclists actions have impacted two families, his own and that of the person who hit him.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    Now that he's possibly put a thought into the head of some other cyclist who may have been riding like that, or provided a link to a story that someone might use to convince someone else riding in this way to at least use a light or a $4 reflective vest, and therefore possibly used this guy's death to prevent others, I'd say he would be justified in feeling better if he wants to.

    IMO the purpose of forums like this is to share information, particularly information on staying safe. Cautionary tales are an effective means of doing so.
    Agreed, hopefully other cyclists who ride like the late Mr. Mayer's will read this article and recognize their style and see how dangerous it is. And hopefully it'll motivate them into changing their behavior.
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    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
    While I realize that double standards are de rigueur when it comes to Advocacy, I have to agree with the O.P. Doing a Ninja ( 12:30AM? Dark clothes? No lights? ) is a sure way to a Darwin award. It's not like we're even talking about some addled teenager who hasn't quite gotten over his invincibility complex.

    In this case, it's the driver who is the victim.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
    Doing a Ninja ( 12:30AM? Dark clothes? No lights? ) is a sure way to a Darwin award.
    Not at all.

    Thousands, perhaps millions of ninjas take to the streets every night and don't die.

    It may be a dozen (to make up a number, I'm not aware of any proper studies) times more dangerous than riding in the dark with proper lighting, but it's a long, long way from a sure thing. Even if you're dressed in all black, drivers will see you and avoid you most of the time -- that's why they have headlights, after all. They're really bright, and so drivers can even see dark things in them. Most of the time, anyways. (And of course, sometimes the rider isn't in the area illuminated by the headlights.)

    It's a bad idea, granted. But not a sure way to kill yourself. If you want that, try a gun to the head. Or jump off a skyscraper. Even those aren't sure, but they're far far more effective than a simple ride without lights wearing dark clothes.

    Also, to win a Darwin award, killing yourself isn't good enough. You need to kill yourself in some sort of spectacular way -- a mundane traffic collision isn't good enough.

    But yes, the driver is also a victim in this case. It's unfortunate that he didn't see the cyclist -- most of the time he probably would and would have avoided him, but not every time, not this time.
    Last edited by dougmc; 05-19-11 at 12:25 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    There is something about this crash that I am curious about. That is this:



    Other than wearing dark clothes and not having lights/reflectors was he riding legally, or is it being suggested that he just swerved into the motorists path? Also what was the lighting situation like? Were there street lights on the road? What about the moon, was it out and providing illumination?

    I've seen ninja's out on the road and in most cases there is enough ambient light present to recognize that there is something in front of you from a reasonable distance.

    I agree with you that I feel bad for this driver, I also feel bad for the cyclists family. As, as has been said in the past the cyclists actions have impacted two families, his own and that of the person who hit him.
    Going off on a bunny trail here, but sometimes street lights are a decided disadvantage. We've got some roads around here where the town decided to get all nostalgic and install "old-fashioned" light fixtures; i.e. Glass globes with no cutoffs. Setting aside the equally annoying light-pollution problem, they're in places where you go around curves and up inclines, so as a driver, you get hit full-on with completely unavoidable, blinding glare. Pretty much anything in your path is washed out for a couple dozen feet in several stretches of road. So if you've got a ninja on the road on the far side of the curve, you've got a pretty significant visibility problem for the both of you.

    I wrote the town about it, asking ( politely ) "What the heck are you thinking?", but never got a response back.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    Other than wearing dark clothes and not having lights/reflectors was he riding legally, or is it being suggested that he just swerved into the motorists path? . . .
    I don't know what conditions were, but I can see how it would happen, even without the rider swerving.

    If he was riding at, say 15 mph, and the driver was going 50 mph, that's a differential speed of 35 mph or 51 feet per second. If you figure a response time of 3 seconds, anything within 150 ft will get pasted, much more when you account for stopping distance or the vehicle's ability to swerve rapidly.

    Can a driver resolve a dark cyclist at 150 ft in the middle of the night when they are not expecting one? I don't think it's very likely.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
    Going off on a bunny trail here, but sometimes street lights are a decided disadvantage. We've got some roads around here where the town decided to get all nostalgic and install "old-fashioned" light fixtures; i.e. Glass globes with no cutoffs. Setting aside the equally annoying light-pollution problem, they're in places where you go around curves and up inclines, so as a driver, you get hit full-on with completely unavoidable, blinding glare. Pretty much anything in your path is washed out for a couple dozen feet in several stretches of road. So if you've got a ninja on the road on the far side of the curve, you've got a pretty significant visibility problem for the both of you.

    I wrote the town about it, asking ( politely ) "What the heck are you thinking?", but never got a response back.
    Exactly, which is why I was asking about the lighting situation. Street lights or the lack thereof could have played a role in the crash. I've also noticed that some lights seem to go on and off at "random." I don't know if they're on some sort of timer/sensor or what, but they'll be off until someone, pedestrian, car, bicycle approaches than they come on.
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    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beezaur View Post
    I don't know what conditions were, but I can see how it would happen, even without the rider swerving.
    Understandable, but isn't that why motorists are suppose to be a bit more careful?

    Quote Originally Posted by beezaur View Post
    If he was riding at, say 15 mph, and the driver was going 50 mph, that's a differential speed of 35 mph or 51 feet per second. If you figure a response time of 3 seconds, anything within 150 ft will get pasted, much more when you account for stopping distance or the vehicle's ability to swerve rapidly.
    Again (and I'm not trying to blame the driver here) isn't that why drivers are suppose to adjust their speed slower under certain circumstances?

    Quote Originally Posted by beezaur View Post
    Can a driver resolve a dark cyclist at 150 ft in the middle of the night when they are not expecting one? I don't think it's very likely.
    I don't know, but again isn't that why if visibility is poor for whatever reason that motorists are suppose to adjust their speed so that if something "suddenly" appears in their path they have time to avoid striking it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    Understandable, but isn't that why motorists are suppose to be a bit more careful? . . .

    Again (and I'm not trying to blame the driver here) isn't that why drivers are suppose to adjust their speed slower under certain circumstances? . . .

    I don't know, but again isn't that why if visibility is poor for whatever reason that motorists are suppose to adjust their speed so that if something "suddenly" appears in their path they have time to avoid striking it?
    This is under "normal" night driving conditions. No fog, no rain, no annoying street lights. Just lack of Sun.

    My own philosophy is I don't try to deal with what people ought to do but rather what they are likely to do.

    The human brain is a funny thing. We like to think we go through the world reacting to our senses, and that those senses pick up what really is there pretty accurately.

    The truth is a little disconcerting.

    Our brains operate on a real-time imagined perception of what is there. When things go along as we expect them to, all of this is seamless and we don't notice. But when something unexpected occurs, it takes white a while for the brain to first destroy the faulty imagined perception, reprocess the real sensory inputs, and finally make sense of what really is going on. This is how magic tricks work, and is frequently the subject of psychological research. For example:



    So on the one hand it is the driver's responsibility to be attentive, on the other hand it is the rider's responsibility to work within real human performance capabilities.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
    Thousands, perhaps millions of ninjas take to the streets every night and don't die.
    Yes, as evidenced:



    Quote Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
    Even if you're dressed in all black, drivers will see you and avoid you most of the time -- that's why they have headlights, after all. They're really bright, and so drivers can even see dark things in them.
    Patently false. Headlights do not help you see; in fact, I find running without my headlights improves my visibility greatly. I also find that, headlights or none, I'm taken by quite sudden surprise by headlight-less drivers at very short distances: those cars coming from the other direction just appear out of nowhere, and often I can't tell the single-light-out guys are cars until they're 2 seconds from passing me at 45mph (I mistake them for motorcycles all the time, but I've started to recognize them by lane position and movement--motorcycles move around in the lane a lot more).

    Car headlights do exactly what bicycle headlights do: they let people see you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by beezaur View Post
    This is how magic tricks work, and is frequently the subject of psychological research. For example:
    I counted 15 passes, though I was a little confused by some visual problems due to so many moving objects.

    I noticed the gorilla when he was in the crowd, assessed and discarded it as something I didn't need to care about; I didn't bother to question it, or even really recognize it: my brain said "sesame street character" and moved on because it was of zero particular importance.

    So yes, I saw the gorilla.

    It didn't strike me as strange/important/notable/whatever.

    Quote Originally Posted by beezaur View Post
    If you figure a response time of 3 seconds, anything within 150 ft will get pasted, much more when you account for stopping distance or the vehicle's ability to swerve rapidly.
    It frightens me that it takes you 150 feet at 50mph to hit your brakes, when I've done 40-0 panic stops in half a car length without ABS in the rain due to idiot running a red light. I actually got out of my vehicle after that one. I was halfway over the stop line at the intersection. I think I was like 20 at the time? I wanted to know how fast I stopped, I knew I hit the brakes just after I entered the intersection.

    I had to do that again when passing a stopped van. Some guy came out from behind it, 30mph to 0 and I was already next to the van when he appeared in my path. He just gave me a dumb look, didn't even try to jump out of the way, I would have floored him.

    It disturbs me that I cannot do that every single time. One day I'll be late, or I won't have absolutely perfect technique, or I'll be on an unexpected patch of road paint or a wet leaf or something. I slow down when I predict other drivers' behaviors. I watch people approaching intersections and estimate if I think they may run it. I pick out the people that are going to change lanes erratically a good 15-20 seconds before they do it: they wobble in their lanes, often move over to the edge of the lane for a few seconds and then go back, no signal, then they just cut over--if they're 2 lanes over and you're changing into the lane next to them, they may suddenly start a lane change into the same lane when you're pretty much there.

    But people just appear from behind large vehicles.

    You can just ninja-flash in my path of travel, with the time between being visible and being fatally in my way being however long it takes you to traverse 12 inches of distance. This is a situation I can't fix, except by driving ridiculously slow all the time on roads intended for faster moving traffic.

    People cannot afford me to zone out for 2-3 seconds when they decide to get between my 2800 pound vehicle and wherever it's about to be in 1 second.

    Quote Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
    I wrote the town about it, asking ( politely ) "What the heck are you thinking?", but never got a response back.
    Actually, what you need to do is find the district representative for that area and show up at his house. This is easily done. Sam Calagione did that to have a silly Delaware law changed so he could own a brew pub (you couldn't both produce and sell liquor in the same facility). Started banging on peoples' doors and talking to them.

    If they tell you to go away, you can call a local news agency and tell them the district rep told you to go away when you explained a severe safety issue to them, and that people will probably eventually die for this. Let the circus run itself from there.
    Last edited by bluefoxicy; 05-19-11 at 02:21 PM.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beezaur View Post
    This is under "normal" night driving conditions. No fog, no rain, no annoying street lights. Just lack of Sun.

    My own philosophy is I don't try to deal with what people ought to do but rather what they are likely to do.

    The human brain is a funny thing. We like to think we go through the world reacting to our senses, and that those senses pick up what really is there pretty accurately.

    The truth is a little disconcerting.

    Our brains operate on a real-time imagined perception of what is there. When things go along as we expect them to, all of this is seamless and we don't notice. But when something unexpected occurs, it takes white a while for the brain to first destroy the faulty imagined perception, reprocess the real sensory inputs, and finally make sense of what really is going on. This is how magic tricks work, and is frequently the subject of psychological research. For example:



    So on the one hand it is the driver's responsibility to be attentive, on the other hand it is the rider's responsibility to work within real human performance capabilities.
    Maybe what we need are daytime and nighttime speed limits. Or as has been suggested in the past lowering the speed to 20 -35MPH so that drivers have more time to react to the unexpected.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    Maybe what we need are daytime and nighttime speed limits. Or as has been suggested in the past lowering the speed to 20 -35MPH so that drivers have more time to react to the unexpected.
    I'm more of an advocate of higher speed limits-- on lower foot-traffic road and highways. Residential areas have always been 25mph here, and it needs to stay that way; we don't need 30-40mph traffic going past your house. Of course, most stuff that's not highway is already pretty decent here: the big commercial area roads are 35mph, the big middle-of-nowhere roads are 45mph. Highways are like 50-55 here though, and that should be 65-70; there are no pedestrians and no bicycles allowed on highways, so hitting those things is not a problem.

    The bigger problem isn't speed; it's attentiveness. I always cite German traffic law, which I'll again point to a useful summary here: http://www.gettingaroundgermany.info/regeln.shtml

    Under German traffic laws, the default speed in Urban areas is 50kph or about 30mph. Outside urban areas, it's trickier: 100kph (60mph) for cars and motorcycles, 80kph (50mph) for bigger things like trucks and buses or cars pulling trailers, and 60kph (about 37mph) for double-trailer trucks or any truck bigger than 7.5 metric ton. Which makes sense: get in a 7.5 metric ton truck and try to stop it from 60mph once, it's not great; the motorcycle stops from 60mph a lot faster.

    Germany also has "traffic calming zones" where you must maintain the lowest speed possible: 7kph or about 5mph. Children can play in the street here. You are expected to not hit things.

    But this is all speed control...well, mostly. "Traffic calming zones" are less about speed than the more important aspect of German traffic law: the large amount of responsibility placed on a driver. You cannot hit things with your car.

    "I didn't see him" isn't an excuse. Why didn't you see a bicyclist in the road? You should have seen him. You should have seen a pedestrian. Your foot should be off the accelerator if there are children or old people near the road at all, and you should be prepared to stop; this is a requirement, and if you hit them it is your fault even if they run out in front of you and hurl themselves at your car.

    European countries in general have the best driving laws, and I think America is way far behind. If we cut the speed limits down to 20mph, we'll have bicyclists getting killed by cars rolling over them at 20mph. They still won't see you at 20mph--not until we start structuring our driver's education better and start holding drivers accountable for their actions. We've stripped that down so badly in this country, especially with that whole liability insurance thing: your insurance goes up, at worst, for causing a traffic incident. We call it an "accident" and absolve you from responsibility, just assigning "fault" or "blame" or whatever you want to call it. This needs to go away.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluefoxicy View Post
    It frightens me that it takes you 150 feet at 50mph to hit your brakes, when I've done 40-0 panic stops in half a car length without ABS in the rain due to idiot running a red light. I actually got out of my vehicle after that one. I was halfway over the stop line at the intersection. I think I was like 20 at the time? I wanted to know how fast I stopped, I knew I hit the brakes just after I entered the intersection.
    Approximately 7 feet to stop your car from 40MPH? Ummm, no you didn't. That's a physical impossibility without turning yourself into goo on the windshield. There are a large number of calculators on the web that help you calculate stopping distances. It would generally take at *least* 120 feet.

    Edit: Convenient table of average stopping distances: http://www.jmu.edu/safetyplan/vehicl...distance.shtml
    Last edited by mulveyr; 05-19-11 at 03:08 PM.
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  19. #19
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    There is something about this crash that I am curious about. That is this:

    Other than wearing dark clothes and not having lights/reflectors was he riding legally, or is it being suggested that he just swerved into the motorists path? Also what was the lighting situation like? Were there street lights on the road? What about the moon, was it out and providing illumination?

    I've seen ninja's out on the road and in most cases there is enough ambient light present to recognize that there is something in front of you from a reasonable distance.

    I agree with you that I feel bad for this driver, I also feel bad for the cyclists family. As, as has been said in the past the cyclists actions have impacted two families, his own and that of the person who hit him.
    I agree DC. Did you also notice part of the article where it mentions "Police want hear from a truck driver thought to have told other truck drivers of a cyclist riding near where the fatal crash took place." It seems someone might have saw him.

    Also, the article did not mention anything about reflectors just that "Mr Mayers was wearing dark clothing and had no lights on his bike, police said." I couldn't find out any information about when lights became required. This is what I found regarding Lighting Regulations . There were provisions since 1989, but has been amended many times including 2009 (it looks like this section were written by Chris Juden 2011-02-03 ). There was also mention about using a different standard soon as far as requirements.
    Last edited by exile; 05-19-11 at 03:27 PM.
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  20. #20
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    Now that he's possibly put a thought into the head of some other cyclist who may have been riding like that, or provided a link to a story that someone might use to convince someone else riding in this way to at least use a light or a $4 reflective vest, and therefore possibly used this guy's death to prevent others, I'd say he would be justified in feeling better if he wants to.

    IMO the purpose of forums like this is to share information, particularly information on staying safe. Cautionary tales are an effective means of doing so.
    And if you believe that the OP's message will "put a [NEW] thought into the head of some other cyclist" or change the actions of a single cyclist anywhere in the world I can only assume you also believe in the tooth fairy.

    He is only preaching to those who already KNOW how much smarter they are than all those "other" incompetent cyclists.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post

    He is only preaching to those who already KNOW how much smarter they are than all those "other" incompetent cyclists.
    And to the lurkers googling this stuff and landing here.
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  22. #22
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluefoxicy View Post
    And to the lurkers googling this stuff and landing here.
    Even the lurkers who are unaware that riding without lights makes one harder to see? They must be as numerous as the smokers who never heard the warnings about the health hazards of smoking.

    Both groups choose to do their thing and face the potential consequences. I seriously doubt that wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth postings from anonymous do-gooders has ANY positive effect on such behaviour.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
    Approximately 7 feet to stop your car from 40MPH? Ummm, no you didn't. That's a physical impossibility without turning yourself into goo on the windshield.
    Are you sure? Because some guy was demonstrating seat belts a few years back by being a living crash test dummy, and one test was hitting a tree at 40mph. He stopped a lot faster than 7 feet, and had a lot of bruising from his seat belt, including bruised ribs.

    I have a mass of 60kg. 40mph is 17m/s. 2 meters at that is 0.11 seconds, which would compute to 153m/s^2 acceleration or 17g; but because the time to go 2 meters actually slightly more than doubles (since I'm doing a lot of continuous negative acceleration relative to my vector of travel), there's a peak of about 7g, which is perfectly fine. I mean hell, the best braking distance on record is 124mph to 0 in 213 feet, which is slightly less than what you quoted for a 50mph stop.

    At worst, I would have passed out due to G-LOC... from 1/4 of 1 second of high G at the most, right on the threshold where most normal people run the risk of passing out. To suggest that I'd be pasty goo is ridiculous.

    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Even the lurkers who are unaware that riding without lights makes one harder to see? They must be as numerous as the smokers who never heard the warnings about the health hazards of smoking.

    Both groups choose to do their thing and face the potential consequences. I seriously doubt that wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth postings from anonymous do-gooders has ANY positive effect on such behaviour.
    You think so? I can see other bicycles just fine when I'm riding my bike; invisible ninja cyclists don't exist. Now work the logic out from there and you'll quickly conclude that lights are patently useless, especially when you tack on the fact that cars have headlights so they can see you, right?

    So it makes sense to go out in all black on a black bike. It's common sense: people can see me, and cars even have lights to help them see me, so cars can obviously see me. I mean, I can see them, so they must be able to see me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    Maybe what we need are daytime and nighttime speed limits. Or as has been suggested in the past lowering the speed to 20 -35MPH so that drivers have more time to react to the unexpected.
    Most people I know would solve that particular problem by declaring cycling at night illegal.

    I am a mass of sparkling and blinking flourescence riding in the dark. Too many years as a volunteer firefighter and EMT to not be as careful.

  25. #25
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    Maybe what we need are daytime and nighttime speed limits. Or as has been suggested in the past lowering the speed to 20 -35MPH so that drivers have more time to react to the unexpected.
    A cyclist who is not a total idiot and is lit up is MORE visible at night than he/she will be in many daylight conditions.

    The problem is not the lack of reduced nighttime speed limits, the problem is dealing with stupid.

    Don in Austin

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