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  1. #1
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    Blind in Left eye...still commute?

    A couple of people at work are interested in commuting. One guy is blind in the left eye and is wondering how well he'd do in traffic. Too dangerous on the streets??? Anyone out there commuting who's vision impaired? Got any advice I could pass along to him?

  2. #2
    coitus non circum. Mars's Avatar
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    Can he drive a car? I know that having one eye will interfere with depth perception, but maybe he has learned to adapt.

  3. #3
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    I'm not vision impared, but if he used a mirror on his handlebars, would that help?

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  4. #4
    Senior Member TrevorInSoCal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vrkelley
    A couple of people at work are interested in commuting. One guy is blind in the left eye and is wondering how well he'd do in traffic. Too dangerous on the streets??? Anyone out there commuting who's vision impaired? Got any advice I could pass along to him?
    How long has he been partially-blind? I'm guessing not for very long, or it probably wouldn't even have occured to him that it would be an issue.

    I've been blind in my right eye since it was removed, along with a cancerous tumor, at age two. It's never slowed me down, that I can tell anyway. I mountain-bike, bicycle-commute, road-bike, snowboard, motorcycle, etc. etc. It does present some issues, but he should be able to adjust to it, just like he's had to adjust to everything else.

    Tell him to go for it and just be sure to pay extra-careful attention to the blind side. I tend to err on the side of caution when approaching intersections and do one extra head-check *just in case*.

    FWIW I'm still not totally comfortable in a crowded pack during roadie training-rides. Another guy I ride with is also blind in one eye and has been riding and racing on the road much longer than I, he's helped me out with a few tips here and there. Mainly stuff that applies to pack-riding though (listen for passing riders on your blind side, watch shadows, etc.), and not commuting. I suspect my tentativeness in packs is due more to the fact that I've only been riding in groups on the road for 4 or 5 years (as opposed to mtn. biking for 15), than it is to vision impairment.

    Of course if he lost his vision later in life it might be more of an issue. For me it's just always been that way, so it's not so much of an adjustment, as it is just the way things are...

    -Trevor

  5. #5
    Just riding andygates's Avatar
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    My housemate's been blind since childhood in one eye. She gets along just fine: she just needs to use tricks that us binocular riders don't, like bobbing her head to judge parallax for distance, and looking way far over one shoulder. It's perfectly doable.

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    Is this guy a rider who wants to commute or a newbie who wants to start riding?
    I would guess that a busy commute is no place for a one-eyed person to learn. I see lots of two-eyed people in London learning to ride during their commute and they are a hazard to themselves. There is a lot to be said for a couple of lessons or a buddy system until the rider knows how to handle themselves in traffic.

  7. #7
    Volvo (Latin: I roll)
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    Even though my right eye is not totally blind, it is extremely impaired. Tell your friend to learn how to listen and catalogue traffic sounds. Compensate for the narrowed field of vision by looking further ahead, then learn how to anticipate developing hazards up ahead. Most of all, tell him to relax, he'll be ok.

    Just a couple of footnotes here:

    My right ear is more sensitive than my left ear, possibly to compensate for my impaired vision on that side.

    I rely heavily on all three of my car mirrors when driving. Yet, I don't feel the need for mirrors on my bike. Probably because I can hear what's going on around me. As I am writing this I realize that I'd be very uncomfortable riding a bike if I was deaf.

  8. #8
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    My girlfriend doesn't see too well out of 1 eye and you can tell sometimes she judges distances and perspectives wrong but for the most part, she just adjusts and in some situations, slows down to be more careful. But it works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    Is this guy a rider who wants to commute or a newbie who wants to start riding?
    I would guess that a busy commute is no place for a one-eyed person to learn. I see lots of two-eyed people in London learning to ride during their commute and they are a hazard to themselves. There is a lot to be said for a couple of lessons or a buddy system until the rider knows how to handle themselves in traffic.
    This is a very good point. I don't think I would "learn" to ride in traffic, but if I'd been riding awhile and wanted to start riding in traffic I think it would be fine. (I don't have any impairment BTW.) Also, if it's a "new" blindness or "old" one would make a difference as others have stated.
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  10. #10
    cut my gas use in half Jessica's Avatar
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    I don't think you would be uncomfortable if you were deaf, after you adjusted to it. I have known people with each disability, and they learned to adapt. Certainly if you can drive (it is legal, just have to learn how to be careful for your own abilities, just like the ablebodied), you can bike.

    Of course, I would always recommend to anyone who wanted to START commuting, to learn what you can, here and from books and from other commuters. Why reinvent the wheel??
    And I am sure there are other choices I haven't thought of, yet...

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    I'm blind in one eye, as it seems quite a few of us are. I've been blind in my left eye since high school. I commute through busy Washington DC 24 miles round-trip. My left ear is better than my right, I guess for compensation. I do not use a mirror because I really need to focus on what's in front of me when I'm going forward, not what's behind me. I'm careful merging to the left, but my ears are pretty good, so I don't generally have a problem.

    vrkelley, check your PMs.

  12. #12
    Rebel Thousandaire Ya Tu Sabes's Avatar
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    FWIW, some scientist colleagues of my wife who have done work studying how the brain processes spatial information tell me that when people lose sight in one eye, their brains adapt (after some time) to form complete, three-dimensional maps of the space around them by combining the information from different views taken from slightly different angles (hence the head bobbing that one-eyed people sometimes do, as mentioned above). Apparently, the difference in depth perception is negligible so long as there is movement.

  13. #13
    Volvo (Latin: I roll)
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperBoy
    Compensate for the narrowed field of vision by looking further ahead...
    Just an addendum to my previous comment: start out with a bike (comfort/hybrid) that offers a more upright seating position rather than a bike that is meant for a more streamlined position. It will encourage you to look further ahead rather than right in front of you and you will also be able to more easily see over objects like parked cars and bushes on street corners. It works for me.

  14. #14
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    "I don't think you would be uncomfortable if you were deaf, after you adjusted to it."

    I am partially deaf-- completely in one ear, with about 60-70% hearing in the other. It doesn't bother me a bit commuting, but then, I have been this way since birth.
    "It's always darkest right before it goes completely black"

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    Seņor Member Tom_The_Bikeman's Avatar
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    I'm partially blind in my right eye, I've got about a 25% loss of vision in the lower left quadrant of my right eye.

    Basically, if you're acustomed to it, it's not really that much of a problem. I'd recommend glasses, but that's pretty much a no-brainer, right? <g>

    take care,
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  16. #16
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    He can drive and his vision is gradually fading in the left eye.

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    Is this guy a rider who wants to commute or a newbie who wants to start riding?
    I would guess that a busy commute is no place for a one-eyed person to learn. I see lots of two-eyed people in London learning to ride during their commute and they are a hazard to themselves. There is a lot to be said for a couple of lessons or a buddy system until the rider knows how to handle themselves in traffic.
    Well 2 years ago, we both talked about our commuting route. Then the other day, he saw the cycling shoes and mentioned that he doesn't ride or exercise unless he *has* to. Big surprise to me because he's got a pretty nice mountain bike and he's moved closer to the office.

    He had to cover the left eye for our entire meeting apparently to focus out of the right eye. With 5 people discussing stuff in a conference room it was pretty hard for him. I wondered because he has to cover one eye it'd be pretty hard to bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vrkelley
    He can drive and his vision is gradually fading in the left eye.



    Well 2 years ago, we both talked about our commuting route. Then the other day, he saw the cycling shoes and mentioned that he doesn't ride or exercise unless he *has* to. Big surprise to me because he's got a pretty nice mountain bike and he's moved closer to the office.

    He had to cover the left eye for our entire meeting apparently to focus out of the right eye. With 5 people discussing stuff in a conference room it was pretty hard for him. I wondered because he has to cover one eye it'd be pretty hard to bike.
    Sounds like the best advice in this thread is from the people who have similar vision issues. I'm curious about your last comment though about covering his eye in a meeting. Meeting in a conference room like that were you using a computer/projector? Does he have to cover one eye in other situations too? Especially more farsighted scenarios? I'm not sure if focusing problems in a conference room would necessarily be indicative of how good his sight would be outdoors in a commute situation. How's his other eye? How's his night vision?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimhens714
    Sounds like the best advice in this thread is from the people who have similar vision issues. I'm curious about your last comment though about covering his eye in a meeting. Meeting in a conference room like that were you using a computer/projector? Does he have to cover one eye in other situations too? Especially more farsighted scenarios? I'm not sure if focusing problems in a conference room would necessarily be indicative of how good his sight would be outdoors in a commute situation. How's his other eye? How's his night vision?
    I have no idea how his night vision is but he does not wear any short of eye glasses. As for the covering of the eye, he does it pretty consistently and while sitting in front of the computer, the left eye does not "participate".

    The question was posed, because if enouraged, I think he'd ride. But I don't want to encourage someone if it'd put the person in jepardy out in traffic. He does drive a car so would he automatically be able to cycle then?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrevorInSoCal
    Of course if he lost his vision later in life it might be more of an issue. For me it's just always been that way, so it's not so much of an adjustment, as it is just the way things are...

    -Trevor
    I don't know the details but the eye looks damaged and he's covered that eye since I've known him.

  20. #20
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    If he wants to ride a bike, he should start out slowly and get used to it. He'll have to find his own comfort level. Becoming blind in one eye (or two, I suppose) can make a person depressed. Exercise helps a person feel better about themselves.

    He should be wearing glasses to protect his good eye; that is a no-brainer as Tom-the-Bikeman said. I don't ride at night because I'm not comfortable with it.

    Hopefully he'll find a way to exercise. When I first lost my vision in my left eye, I had to stop playing sports (soccer and basketball) because of surgery, etc. But I picked them up again, and cycling, too. I've gotten pretty good at focusing on what I CAN do. It's easy to get caught in the trap of only thinking about your loss, and it takes courage and discipline and strength to overcome that.

  21. #21
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimhens714
    Sounds like the best advice in this thread is from the people who have similar vision issues. I'm curious about your last comment though about covering his eye in a meeting. Meeting in a conference room like that were you using a computer/projector? Does he have to cover one eye in other situations too? Especially more farsighted scenarios? I'm not sure if focusing problems in a conference room would necessarily be indicative of how good his sight would be outdoors in a commute situation. How's his other eye? How's his night vision?
    I have limited vision in one eye and will often cover the less accurate. More comfortable than closing one.
    Having less or no vision in one eye, depth perception is a mental calculation.
    Long distance focus is not affected by lower sight in one eye, closer focus involving depth I could see.
    Having partial vision in one eye can hinder (blur) hence the covering. I do it sometimes focusing data or film projectors.

    I do have limited vision in my damaged eye, cannot advise as to if it's safe....personal choice.
    I have enough that it's fine to ride. I'm lucky.

  22. #22
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperBoy
    My right ear is more sensitive than my left ear, possibly to compensate for my impaired vision on that side.

    I rely heavily on all three of my car mirrors when driving. Yet, I don't feel the need for mirrors on my bike. Probably because I can hear what's going on around me. As I am writing this I realize that I'd be very uncomfortable riding a bike if I was deaf.
    Interesting, I do rely on hearing to a great degree on the road, and a lot of head turning.
    Not often a car is behind me and i'm not aware, I never wear ear covers or audio headsets.
    Roadies sneak up on me sometimes, not cars.

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