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  1. #1
    Senior Member 009jim's Avatar
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    New Australian study into night visibility misconceptions


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    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    First sentence: "Conspicuity limitations make bicycling at night dangerous." Right. I like how its the fault of the cyclists for "not being conspicuos enough" rather than the fault of the driver for plowing into him.


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    Additionally, occasional bicyclists judged themselves to be more visible than did frequent bicyclists.
    Perhaps that is part of why newbies seem to get hit more often than folks who have been around the block a time or two.

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    Interesting that retroreflective material on ankles / knees makes so much difference to the actual recognition distance. Ankle bands are usually the part of my 'dark' gear that I'm least likely to bother to put on. I guess that should change.

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    Senior Member JonnyHK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earl Grey View Post
    Interesting that retroreflective material on ankles / knees makes so much difference to the actual recognition distance. Ankle bands are usually the part of my 'dark' gear that I'm least likely to bother to put on. I guess that should change.

    There was an earlier Australian study on this - something to do with the movement. A static reflector could be some boring road furniture, but something pumping up and down seems to trigger a better response.

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    IMO, nothing new, different, or in the least surprising in the abstract. More interesting would be a study on what compels many riders to be so obtuse about this.

  7. #7
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
    First sentence: "Conspicuity limitations make bicycling at night dangerous." Right. I like how its the fault of the cyclists for "not being conspicuos enough" rather than the fault of the driver for plowing into him.

    I can tell you never have really objectively seen how difficult it is see a cyclist at night with dark clothes and no lights/reflectors. And in my experience many people who ride like that also tend to ride ride unpredicatably. So you take an invisible person who does a dumb move and a driver (or another cyclist) has reduced time to react.
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  8. #8
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    Yeah, that's what surprised me - the original set of 'acquisition distances' (which as JonnyHK says, are from an earlier study). 20m for dark clothing and no reflectives. Even with a 20mph closure rate (15mph bike and 35mph car) that's only a couple of seconds. The ankle/knee reflectors triple that distance (40 to 120m) vs just a reflective vest.

  9. #9
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    This holds up with my personal experiences.

    I saw a cyclist with ankle reflectors and the up-down motion made it immediately obvious that there was a cyclist way before I could actually see the rider or the bike.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Of course most states require bikes ridden at night to have pedal and spoke reflectors, specifically because the motion makes them much more conspicuous.

  11. #11
    Mmm hm! agent pombero's Avatar
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    Another article on this topic from the same authors

    Wood, J. M., Tyrrell, R. A., Marszalek, R., Lacherez, P., Carberry, T., & Chu, B. S. (March 01, 2012). Using reflective clothing to enhance the conspicuity of bicyclists at night. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 45, 726-730.

    This article shows that young drivers are able to recognize a cyclist before the elderly (who shouldn't be driving IMO past 60). See the attachment Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 10.48.08 AM.pngand Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 10.51.51 AM.png

    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Of course most states require bikes ridden at night to have pedal and spoke reflectors, specifically because the motion makes them much more conspicuous.
    No pedal reflectors on my M520s, but I did the next best thing: I used Reflexite REF-DB Retroreflective Daybright Tape along the length of the crankarms, both sides, so that a solid line of reflective tape is seen while pedaling. I also put the tape throughout the span of both planet bike fenders + parts of the rear rack. It is very reflective! I've had several motorists complement how bright I am in the back (also probably due to the three hotshots).

    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    IMO, nothing new, different, or in the least surprising in the abstract. More interesting would be a study on what compels many riders to be so obtuse about this.
    Those studies are called Looked But Failed To See (LBFTS) errors in the literature. There has been a lot of research on this topic.

    Arnaud Koustana´, Emmanuelle Boloix, Pierre Van Elslande, Claude Bastien, Statistical analysis of “looked-but-failed-to-see” accidents: Highlighting the involvement of two distinct mechanisms, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 40, Issue 2, March 2008, Pages 461-469, ISSN 0001-4575, 10.1016/j.aap.2007.08.001.

    Cale B. White, Jeff K. Caird, The blind date: The effects of change blindness, passenger conversation and gender on looked-but-failed-to-see (LBFTS) errors, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 42, Issue 6, November 2010, Pages 1822-1830, ISSN 0001-4575, 10.1016/j.aap.2010.05.003.

    Mai-Britt Herslund, Niels O J°rgensen, Looked-but-failed-to-see-errors in traffic, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 35, Issue 6, November 2003, Pages 885-891, ISSN 0001-4575, 10.1016/S0001-4575(02)00095-7.
    Last edited by agent pombero; 04-11-13 at 12:07 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonnyHK View Post
    There was an earlier Australian study on this - something to do with the movement. A static reflector could be some boring road furniture, but something pumping up and down seems to trigger a better response.
    At one point I did 4 double centuries, 2 of them back to back. The person who got me into that also taught me how to rig the bike, which included reflective tape on the wheels. The result was getting caught in the headlights made me look like a UFO. Definitely gets attention.

    Reflective tape if used well has one other huge advantage, it can be put on to provide reflection from all angles. Most reflectors and lights are only in front and behind.
    Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly.

  13. #13
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
    First sentence: "Conspicuity limitations make bicycling at night dangerous." Right. I like how its the fault of the cyclists for "not being conspicuos enough" rather than the fault of the driver for plowing into him.

    No one plowed into anyone.

    And it *is* the responsibility of cyclists to use appropriate lighting at night. The point of the article is to help bikers realize what works best to be seen. I think that is very useful information.

  14. #14
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    And it *is* the responsibility of cyclists to use appropriate lighting at night.
    And it is the responsibility of human beings not to kill, maim, or injure other human beings. "I did not see him" or "they came out of nowhere" are typically just excuses used by motorists who are operating a lethal machine in a dangerous manner. Not being able to see due to darkness (like heavy rain) is a terrific reason to slow the @#$% down. 20 mph is a perfectly sensible driving speed when you have limited visibility. The life of a single human being is worth far more than all of the minutes everyone saves by speeding in a 25 mph zone.

  15. #15
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    would like to see a study on drivers who buzz cyclists intentionally
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    Quote Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
    This article shows that young drivers are able to recognize a cyclist before the elderly (who shouldn't be driving IMO past 60).
    Bizarre.

    We don't know what the study means by "young" or "elderly" but it would seem that the peformance of 59 year-olds is very close to the performance of 60 year-olds.

    If you don't want 60 year-olds driving, do you want them to be riding bicycles?

    If you have a drivers license, are you planning on giving it up when you turn 60?

    If you had suggested that everybody qualify due to some sort of test, you might have a reasonable idea. But disqualifying people by simple age doesn't make sense.

    You also don't seem to realize that "young" drivers (20-24 year-olds) are involved in many more accidents (about 3.5 times as many) as 65-74 year-olds are.

    http://www.census.gov/compendia/stat...es/12s1114.pdf
    Last edited by njkayaker; 04-11-13 at 01:52 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alhedges View Post
    No one plowed into anyone.

    And it *is* the responsibility of cyclists to use appropriate lighting at night. The point of the article is to help bikers realize what works best to be seen. I think that is very useful information.
    If its actually that hard to see a cyclists without a leg band then they make cars have mandatory brighter head lights or night time speed limits that are much slower than day time speed limits. Why is it always the cyclists fault? "I'm sorry officer but even thought the cyclists followed all the rules and had the legally required red reflector on the back of his bike, I just couldnt see him because he didnt have an ankle strap! What was that guy thinking?!?!?!"

    Im not arguing that the information is not useful for those who do want to go above and beyond I am just saying that there seems to be more and more responsibility put on the cyclists for "gettin' outta the way of da cars" and not enough emphasis put on drivers who disregard the laws that are in place to keep us safe in the first place.

    So, if cyclists are not very visible to cars why do cyclists have to change their behavior and not drivers?

  18. #18
    Mister Bleak! mconlonx's Avatar
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    If you're doing 25 mph downhill in the dark on your bike, how much reaction time do you think you have, how much distance do you think you'd need to ID a pedestrian dressed all in black, walking along the side of the road? Think you'd have enough time to not plow into them...?

    If you hit them, is it the fault of the walker wearing dark, or the cyclist running them down?
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus regarding mconlonx View Post
    You, I don't generally think of you as clueless. You're kind of ok.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

  19. #19
    Senior Member JerrySTL's Avatar
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    I have enough lights, reflectors, bright clothing, etc., that cars often pass me extremely slow. You can tell there's "some WTF is that?" going on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
    If its actually that hard to see a cyclists without a leg band then they make cars have mandatory brighter head lights or night time speed limits that are much slower than day time speed limits. Why is it always the cyclists fault? "I'm sorry officer but even thought the cyclists followed all the rules and had the legally required red reflector on the back of his bike, I just couldnt see him because he didnt have an ankle strap! What was that guy thinking?!?!?!"

    Im not arguing that the information is not useful for those who do want to go above and beyond I am just saying that there seems to be more and more responsibility put on the cyclists for "gettin' outta the way of da cars" and not enough emphasis put on drivers who disregard the laws that are in place to keep us safe in the first place.

    So, if cyclists are not very visible to cars why do cyclists have to change their behavior and not drivers?
    Car drivers are required to make sure their own cars are visible (by having working lights).

    Given how easy/cheap/effective it is to be more visible as a cyclist, it's not very smart to choose not be more visible.

    The goal is to avoid collisions. Why would you, as a cyclist, rationally choose to rely on drivers changing their behavior?

  21. #21
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Did they test rear pointed lights or only front?

    from abstract: "the bicycle had a light mounted on the handlebars which was either static, flashing or off."

  22. #22
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
    If you're doing 25 mph downhill in the dark on your bike, how much reaction time do you think you have, how much distance do you think you'd need to ID a pedestrian dressed all in black, walking along the side of the road? Think you'd have enough time to not plow into them...?

    If you hit them, is it the fault of the walker wearing dark, or the cyclist running them down?
    Try the same question changing the cyclist to a motorist... and leave the pedestrian in dark clothing.

    See things get a bit strange as soon as you throw a motorist into the equation... as apparently they can be in "accidents" where there is no fault assigned.

  23. #23
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
    the elderly (who shouldn't be driving IMO past 60).
    Which explains once again how much to value your opinion.

  24. #24
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    Bizarre.
    You also don't seem to realize that "young" drivers (20-24 year-olds) are involved in many more accidents (about 3.5 times as many) as 65-74 year-olds are.
    The poster who made the bizarre comment don't need no stinkin' stats to justify his bizarre (to be kind) opinions; unless he can find some, somewhere that somehow supports his wackadoodle opinions.

  25. #25
    Mister Bleak! mconlonx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Try the same question changing the cyclist to a motorist... and leave the pedestrian in dark clothing.

    See things get a bit strange as soon as you throw a motorist into the equation... as apparently they can be in "accidents" where there is no fault assigned.
    Things aren't strange -- ped still has a good chance of getting hit because they are doing nothing to mitigate walking ninja in the dark.

    Cars are specifically required to run lights at some time period stated in law around sunset or dusk. Motorcyclists in the USA have to run daytime running lights. Many cyclists are legally required to run lights when it's dark out.

    Maybe lights should be mandatory on bikes, and while we're at it, require daytime use for conspicuity like motorcyclists and many cars.

    If a cyclist is riding in the dark without lights where nighttime use of lights is required of cyclists and gets hit by a driver with their car, who is more at fault?
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus regarding mconlonx View Post
    You, I don't generally think of you as clueless. You're kind of ok.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

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