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Old 11-19-04, 07:12 PM   #1
nycme
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Involved in cycle accident, I was the motorist

The worst thing that you could possibly imagine happened. My husband is a dedicated urban bicycle commuter. I was a bicycle commuter until I got a job that required an automobile. And as I was making a left turn I collided with a cyclist who was injured. The sun was behind him and there was intense glare and though I could see cars, I literally did not see the cyclist.

I feel so awful. I wonder if using a light during the daytime would make a difference in situations like this.
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Old 11-19-04, 07:21 PM   #2
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I hope things work out for both of you. As a bike rider, I am VERY focused on looking for bikes when I drive a vehicle. And, in my mega-traffic city, much of my focus must be on the Suburbans that run every light, at every intersection, at 40 mph or 50 mph. In the "clutter" of dozens of larger vehicles, a bike coming toward a driver has a very small profile, and can be hard to see among the various distractions.

As a rider, I make the assumption that I am invisible. I also assume that every driver is about to do whatever is most dangerous to me. So, I figure a car passing me from the back is about to make a right turn into my path. A car coming towards me is probably going to turn left into my path. A car coming from the side that has a stop sign or a red light is going to blow through the intersection.

By assuming the worst is about the happen, I have managed to avoid any problems with cars. (Not so lucky with curbs, potholes, trees - but doing okay with cars).
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Old 11-19-04, 07:32 PM   #3
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I hope the biker was not hurt and also hope things work out for the both of you.
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Old 11-19-04, 09:13 PM   #4
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[QUOTE=alanbikehouston]

"As a rider, I make the assumption that I am invisible. I also assume that every driver is about to do whatever is most dangerous to me. So, I figure a car passing me from the back is about to make a right turn into my path. A car coming towards me is probably going to turn left into my path. A car coming from the side that has a stop sign or a red light is going to blow through the intersection."

Me too, well put. Don't give them the chance of suprise, assume they are going to pull the worst move.
Often they do..and you're ready for it.

..and sadly a person who is MORE apt to be aware of cyclists has had an accident (yes it really sounds like one, I don't think of negligence as accidental.) showing that it is so very much up to ourselves to be aware, not 'believe' that simply adhearing to vehicular laws will keep us safe.

'Walk' signs do not exclude the possibility of a car swinging around the corner...look always.

Perhaps when the shock wears off you can contact the injured person and tell them you are a cyclist too and express your sorrows. it would also I imagine feel somewhat better knowing this about the person who has inflicted harm - that you have a common bond and sympathetic -rather than the cager with a grudge insisting it's the cyclists fault.

I feel for ya, difficult. Hope the cyclist recovers fully -you're no monster.

>peace jef.

Last edited by jeff williams; 11-19-04 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 11-19-04, 10:59 PM   #5
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Gonna take a pretty bright light to outshine the sun...

I get pretty steamed about auto driver behavior, and pretty mouthy about it as well. However, it helps to get the perspective from the other side. There are human beings in those cars, and they are not trying to do anything wrong or hurt anybody, for the most part. I'm so sorry that this accident happened to you. You seem like a good person and something like this could happen to anyone... good luck.
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Old 11-20-04, 07:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alanbikehouston

As a rider, I make the assumption that I am invisible. I also assume that every driver is about to do whatever is most dangerous to me. So, I figure a car passing me from the back is about to make a right turn into my path. A car coming towards me is probably going to turn left into my path. A car coming from the side that has a stop sign or a red light is going to blow through the intersection.
You sound like the MSA motorcycle safety course instructors. This is how I ride my bike and motorcycle. I attribute many years of riding both and never having an accident to this practice. Sometimes it makes me a little slower than others. But I find it worth it.

nycme,

I hope all turns out well.

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Old 11-20-04, 07:26 AM   #7
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You ever watched that movie where the guy races around on his motorcycle at night with no lights on and the guy asks why he does that and he says it's cause everyone thinks he's invisible anyway.
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Old 11-20-04, 08:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mars
it helps to get the perspective from the other side. There are human beings in those cars, and they are not trying to do anything wrong or hurt anybody, for the most part. I'm so sorry that this accident happened to you. You seem like a good person and something like this could happen to anyone... good luck.
A couple thoughts....

I believe illuminated head and tail lights are essential when riding at or near dawn or dusk. Never assume that that just because there is enough light to see the road that you can be seen.

The "other side of the story" (which is seldom available) is something we always need to be mindful of. I have and will continue to stress the need to gather all available facts before drawing conclusions or forming opinions regarding accidents (or anything else) as reported in the media.

Motorists and cyclists must both take prudent actions to prevent collisions and, even when then do, sometimes accidents still happen. The best we can hope for is law enforcement officers who are properly trained to be mindful and attentive to cyclists rights at the accident scene so that unbiased and factual evidence can be collected to ascertain what really happened, why, and assign fault per the law. Moreover, that the district attorney/solicitor/prosecutors office will follow through when appropriate. Only then is justice served.

Last edited by livngood; 11-20-04 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 11-20-04, 09:30 AM   #9
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It will take you a while to get over it but it will eventually fade. It's a good suggestion that you try and contact the bicyclist involved, it will make you both feel better. When I am driving my car on residential streets or anywhere besides the freeway I am always aware of cyclist and the unpredictable things they do too, like not always stopping at stops signs (I'm guilty of that but only on 4 ways stops and I slow down enough to look both ways). With the circumstances you described it was probably impossible to avoid it, though that doesn't make you feel any better. Hope all turns out well for both of you.
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Old 11-20-04, 11:52 AM   #10
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Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I plan to visit him in the hospital and hopefully he will agree to see me.

I wasn't cited by the bike cop who first responded but he recommended I get special anti-glare sunglasses. does anybody know what these are and where can I buy them?
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Old 11-20-04, 12:37 PM   #11
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Most sunglass stores and Opticans should sell them. They are regular sunglasses with a special coating which reduces not eliminates glare.
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Old 11-20-04, 09:48 PM   #12
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A very bright flashing headlight can help in certain dusk situations, indeed. That has been my experience. My front headlight (15 watt) is flashing all the way home, all the time.
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Old 11-20-04, 10:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycme
I feel so awful. I wonder if using a light during the daytime would make a difference in situations like this.
If the sun was behind him then I think a light would actually produce the opposite effect of reducing his silhouette thus making him even more difficult to see. The effect was demonstrated during WW2 in an experimental project called Yehudi which focused on mounting lights on the the body and wings of divebombers to give them extra time when diving out of the sun to hit subs who were at the time able to submerge quicker than the attackers could mount an effective attack. The lights would help to mask their visual presence and thus reduce the detection range/time for the sub crew to react. Similar experiments were conducted decades later during the 1960s in a project called Compass Ghost to try and reduce the silhouette of the large F4 Phantom by strategically placing lights on it. The study found that they could reduce the detection range by as much as 30%. At one time, during the Have Blue project which was the project that led to the development of the F117 Nighthawk stealth fighter, an active lighting scheme was also planned. Everytime people talk about DRLs and using lights to increase their visibility, I have to point out that what you're trying to achieve is contrast and silhouette enhancement. Casting light may not always achieve this goal.
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Last edited by khuon; 11-20-04 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 11-21-04, 03:25 PM   #14
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I was hit from behind as I climb a small hill. The sun was at the top of the hill and I'm sure that the van that hit me could not see me.

That was about six years ago. Anytime I ride when the sun is getting low in the sky I think about that accident and often adjust my route because of the sun.

The guy that hit me was a highway patrolman who was off duty. He paid to fix my bike and paid my hospital bills.
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Old 11-21-04, 04:30 PM   #15
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As I was coming home from work on this rainy day, I decided to push it a little coming down a slight incline. I put the bike in the big gear, and was approaching 100 rpm (what Sheldon Brown said should be 34 mph with my gearing), and a car attempts a u-turn in front of me. The car saw me and gave me a kind of half-way creeping stop in the middle of the intersection. That was after I had slammed on the grippers and slowed way down. I do not trust anyone in a car, even if I know they must see me.
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Old 11-21-04, 07:47 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycme
Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I plan to visit him in the hospital and hopefully he will agree to see me.

I wasn't cited by the bike cop who first responded but he recommended I get special anti-glare sunglasses. does anybody know what these are and where can I buy them?

Probably polarized lens. How long since you'd washed the inside of your windshield? Even with new materials, a film builds up on the glass and causes the glare. When I drive home to visit the folks, I wash my windshield on the inside at least once, if not twice a day. Driving east and west you will have the sun in your eyes either in the morning or evening.
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Old 11-21-04, 10:04 PM   #17
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I know of accidents that happen between cars because of the sun glare. Many accidents happen because of the sun. I remember a cyclist telling me that he rear ended a car because he was unable to see with the sun in his eyes. He was okay but his bike was trashed. And once I was out aon a ride with my friend and rear-ended him because he was signalling and the sun was in my eyes and I couldn't see. Sun is a big cause of accidents, and at least you feel bad about it! It sounds like it was just that, an accident. SOmetimes, no matter how careful you are, there are things like blind spots and slick spots and bad intersections that cause accidents.
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Old 11-22-04, 02:47 PM   #18
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One other effect I experienced a few years ago from sun glare is the reverse color image on your retina (Green). I topped a hill one Fall day when the late afternoon sun was almost, but not quite, aligned with the traffic signal. The roads were also wet from a recent shower and there was tremendous glare. The light appeared green to me but was actually red. Unfortunately the city transit bus to my right had the green & attempted a left turn which ended in a near head on collision. Nobody hurt but my car was totaled. Don
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Old 11-22-04, 03:10 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by wabbit
I know of accidents that happen between cars because of the sun glare. Many accidents happen because of the sun. I remember a cyclist telling me that he rear ended a car because he was unable to see with the sun in his eyes. He was okay but his bike was trashed. And once I was out aon a ride with my friend and rear-ended him because he was signalling and the sun was in my eyes and I couldn't see. Sun is a big cause of accidents, and at least you feel bad about it! It sounds like it was just that, an accident. SOmetimes, no matter how careful you are, there are things like blind spots and slick spots and bad intersections that cause accidents.
If the sun is causing reduced visibilty and an incident occurs, this does not mean it was unavoidable, only that the precautions were not taken to address the poor visibility. If conditions require it (sun glare, snow, rain, etc.) then one should drive at the appropriate speed and level of caution needed to both see as well as avoid any hazards. If this means traveling at 15mph or pulling over and stopping (like in a severe storm) then that is what is needed.

This can be difficult in practice - we have all been in situations where one is driving and one does not have a 100% clear view of everything on/near the road due to sun or rain, etc. Risk weighted decisions are made, how likely is an obstical vs. need to drive 10mph, etc.

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Old 11-22-04, 03:53 PM   #20
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The sun is really bad this time of year in particular in Virginia and similiar Lat/Long areas of the globe. I often time just leave later from work because I know that the one road I go down is directly in the sun from 5:15 to about 5:30. It just aint worth it. Keeping a clean wind shield will help quite a bit too.
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Old 11-22-04, 06:36 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycme
The worst thing that you could possibly imagine happened. My husband is a dedicated urban bicycle commuter. I was a bicycle commuter until I got a job that required an automobile. And as I was making a left turn I collided with a cyclist who was injured. The sun was behind him and there was intense glare and though I could see cars, I literally did not see the cyclist.

I feel so awful. I wonder if using a light during the daytime would make a difference in situations like this.
We bicyclists need to be fully aware of our invisibility when we are cloaked by the sun. Lights, sound devices and plain-and-simple extreme caution will help (on both sides.)

I hope all turns out ok.
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