Advocacy & Safety - Visibility
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Driving home last night, 6 PM, was overtaking cyclist who braved the 22 degree NJ weather. He was lite up like an emergency vehicle and very visible to me but he was almost crushed by a car turning left accross his path. He stopped safely but when I had an opportunity to pass the cyclist it was clear his two front lights provided little to nothing to indicate he was there, unlike the multiple rear red blinkys. It was easy to see how he could have become lost in the glare of car headlights behind him. In this case my car might have been the problem, because it looked like the driver fixated on me rather than the cyclist entering the intersection.
What is the best lighting setup to be seen from the front? Can a following car assist a cyclist in any way to prevent this type of accident?
01-03-08, 11:43 AM
There are bright front lights available. I use a 10W HID, there are high powered LED ones too. Low powered blinky type front lights do nothing.
As to the situation, it is unclear why the left cross occurred if you were driving thru intersection as well - perhaps you were further back at the time (it reads like you passed him twice ??). Mostly other vehicles can help provide the visual reason to prevent/reduce a left cross - so if you were very close to or passing the cyclist, the driver is less likely to pull in front of both of you.
01-03-08, 12:12 PM
Front white blinkie is the thing that sticks out the most to me when I see an oncoming cyclist.
I think you need a combination of lights... a good headlight to see and be seen and something unusual so that motorists look twice... So add to good bright headlight a couple of front flashing blinkies and maybe those cell phone yackers might just take a second look.
Frankly when it is near dusk, I put my niterider 12W headlight on flash mode... I don't need the light to see at that point, but I want to be SEEN.
Sorry for the confusion, I was overtaking the cyclist and very impressed with the light setup from behind. There was no way he could be missed.
I was still several car lengths back when the left cross happened to the cyclist and I was stunned that he wasn't seen. After I passed I was able to look in the mirror and for the most part the cyclist was lost in the glare of the cars behind. His front lights were lost in the sea of headlights. After seeing that I started to look in the opposite lane to see if this could happen again. Yesterday evening there were two cyclist on the other side that were all be invisible because the (to me) brighter headlights of the traffic creates blind spots.
I know I have to watch more carefully, I hope other drivers do as well.
01-04-08, 11:43 AM
Any idea what type of front light they had?
I've noted locally a lot of cyclists go nuts with rear lights and skimp on the front with a tiny LED blinkie. Seems to be a fear of the rear vs. the reality of much of the potential hazard being from the front.
01-04-08, 12:28 PM
I've noticed a lot of cyclists in my area like to point their lights directly at the ground just ahead of their front tire, plus they like to wear dark non reflective clothing. I followed one such cyclist one night a few weeks ago, when I first saw him was by the reflective tape on the back of his clipless shoes, no other reflectors, or rear lights where being used, plus he was wearing an all black spandex/helmet outfit. I followed him at a fairly safe distance to at least help cover his backside for as long as my route and his were the same.
01-04-08, 12:36 PM
I've noticed a lot of cyclists in my area like to point their lights directly at the ground just ahead of their front tire, plus they like to wear dark non reflective clothing.
Yes, and rear lights too making a red blob on the ground 5-10' behind the cyclist. I point my front and rear lights basically parallel to ground so the focus of the beam is at eye level of a driver in a typical motor vehicle 200' away.
I sometimes ride with folks who have brighter lights (13W HID with better reflector vs. my 10W HID), but they point them in a spot 10' ahead of them. Everyone else comments how my light is the brightest and they know when I am behind.
Even with a 10W HID aimed nearly parallel to ground with the beam reflector I have it still provides some light on from the tire forward. I find having a hot spot on the ground 15' ahead while letting you see immediate (so immediate as to give little time to react) hazards a bit better makes it harder to see a wider distance range of hazards due to eye burn out from hot spot.
As to clothing. It was hard to find a base layer and clothing in light colors - especially white. I guess not many cyclists want a long sleeve white wool jersey. Too bad arm warmers only come in black.
01-04-08, 01:08 PM
This is my front headlight:
I rarely use the high beam, since the low beam is 15W. I have never been not noticed and left crossed in the 5-6 years I've had his light, but lane position is also important (to be where oncoming motorists expect traffic to be).
In the situation in the OP, since the overtaking motorist (the OP) was still a few car lengths back, I (the cyclist) would have been further left, about where a motorcyclist would approach, enter and cross this intersection.
01-04-08, 01:32 PM
In addition to lane position and a handlebar mounted headlight, this is one reason that I like a helmet light. If there's any question that a driver might not see me I can shine it right in their eyes.
What works best for me is a front white blinkie combined with a helmet mounted HID light. If it looks like a turning motorist does not notice me, a quick scan of the HID light across the motorist gets them to stop before they become too dangerous.
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