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Thread: drunk drivers

  1. #1
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    drunk drivers

    I couldn't decide between posting in the general section or her. I figured most of the people that are riding when the bars close are long distance riders, so I landed here.

    So does anyone have any strategies for dealing with drunk drivers? My main thing is I can't decide what lighting strategy to use. A solid and a blinking light? Just a solid light? Anything else to keep myself from becoming an accidental target at 2:00 AM?
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

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    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    Honesty, I don't think it matters. You could be lit up like Times Square and a drunk will still be a danger to you and every other car on the road. Look at it this way---the bitter-enders who stick around to last call have probably been hitting the sauce hard for at least 4-5 hours. At 2 AM, usually the only people on the road are drunks, and people driving home from the swing shift who are drowsy and fighting to stay awake. Then there are the kids who've been making out with their dates in some secluded spot, and their minds are usually not on what's in the present moment.

    Still, more lights, the better off you'll be.

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    Randomhead
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    get reflective gear. Vest and ankle straps. A flashing and a solid light. Not much else you can do

    I have seen one person I thought was drunk in my randonneuring career. He gave us lots of room. Usually bar closing time goes by without any cars passing at all

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    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    use a mirror, watch cars like a hawk, and get ready to bail if necessary.

    control your speed on descents - nocturnal animals are probably a bigger danger.

    choose your routes carefully, if those decisions are in your hands, that is.

    I feel that steady lights are easier to track than blinking ones, although blinking lights are better at getting people's attention. Rural roads with drivers going at high speed favors the former, and urban settings with lots of light pollution require the latter.

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    A flashing light might in some cases catch people's attention, but it does disrupt a person's ability to track it and effectively gauge how far away it is and how fast it's traveling. It also REALLY, REALLY annoys some of your fellow cyclists (also, make sure that it's pointed back, not up into other cyclists' eyes).
    Pedal and/or ankle reflectors create attention-getting movement, but in addition they vaguely outline a human form, making you more immediately recognizable. Studies have shown that a few points of light or reflective material at the extremities show the motion of your body in a way that makes it immediately obvious what you are far more effectively than just a red light, which can resemble a stop light or signal or other incidental, ignorable roadside object. That's why events (and RUSA rules) require ankle bands and reflective vests or sashes that wrap around your body or go a substantial way toward wrapping around.

    Drunk drivers are certainly a hazard to watch out for, but even given the possibility, I have no doubt that riding in a remote area in the middle of the night when there's hardly any traffic carries less risk of getting hit by a car than riding in a moderately trafficked area during the day. Drunks are dangerous, but so are drivers who are texting and talking on the phone.

  6. #6
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    get reflective gear. Vest and ankle straps.
    I should have mentioned I'll be on my trike. But my flag has reflective strips on them, as well as my headrest and panniers.

    On an upright bike, I would already be riding with that. Maybe I need a mannequin on my rack with a vest on
    Last edited by chandltp; 05-02-13 at 11:38 AM.
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

  7. #7
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coluber42 View Post
    That's why events (and RUSA rules) require ankle bands and reflective vests or sashes that wrap around your body or go a substantial way toward wrapping around.
    A curious question.. are recumbents allowed in those events? Both of those measures seem ineffective in that scenario.
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

  8. #8
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Sounds like I'll run my blinking light and my solid light (which is a dyno light so it's always on).
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

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    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    A curious question.. are recumbents allowed in those events? Both of those measures seem ineffective in that scenario.
    Yes, recumbents are fine for RUSA brevets.

    Ineffective? Less effective, yes. Completely ineffective? no - there are still lots of other angles / vantage points from which the anklebands and vest are visible - just not from behind very much.

    I recommend supplemental reflectives on the back of your machine to substitute for a lack of rearward visibility of the reflectives on your vest.

    an article I wrote: http://www.recumbentjournal.com/view...e-cycling.html

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    Randomhead
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    what kind of trike are we talking about? But as Steamer said, reflective gear is effective from many angles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coluber42 View Post
    A flashing light might in some cases catch people's attention, but it does disrupt a person's ability to track it and effectively gauge how far away it is and how fast it's traveling.
    The supposed problems with tracking flashing lights is overrated, especially when you concider that rear lights are mostly seen from behind (where they don't move across the visual field.

    The benefit of flashing is that it makes these small lights easier to see from a farther distance (giving more time to drivers to realize there is something ahead).

    That is, the purpose of a rear light isn't for tracking. It's to be noticed as a cyclist. The earlier, the better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coluber42 View Post
    It also REALLY, REALLY annoys some of your fellow cyclists (also, make sure that it's pointed back, not up into other cyclists' eyes).
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coluber42 View Post
    Pedal and/or ankle reflectors create attention-getting movement, but in addition they vaguely outline a human form, making you more immediately recognizable. Studies have shown that a few points of light or reflective material at the extremities show the motion of your body in a way that makes it immediately obvious what you are far more effectively than just a red light, which can resemble a stop light or signal or other incidental, ignorable roadside object. That's why events (and RUSA rules) require ankle bands and reflective vests or sashes that wrap around your body or go a substantial way toward wrapping around.
    The reflecting ankle straps are a big help but they might be noticed later than a flashing light source.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    A curious question.. are recumbents allowed in those events? Both of those measures seem ineffective in that scenario.
    Recumbents are allowed on all/most randonneuring events.

    And many recumbent riders put reflective material on the back of the seat.

  13. #13
    Senior Member 009jim's Avatar
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    Get real high power lights that literally blind the drivers. That's got to be safer. More is better!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 009jim View Post
    Get real high power lights that literally blind the drivers. That's got to be safer. More is better!
    No.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
    use a mirror, watch cars like a hawk, and get ready to bail if necessary.

    control your speed on descents - nocturnal animals are probably a bigger danger.

    choose your routes carefully, if those decisions are in your hands, that is.

    I feel that steady lights are easier to track than blinking ones, although blinking lights are better at getting people's attention. Rural roads with drivers going at high speed favors the former, and urban settings with lots of light pollution require the latter.
    Even more so, use your ears. You can tell a lot about how a car is being driven behind you on rural roads just by listening to it. Speed based on engine speed and wind noise, or in corners how the tyres sound can tell you a lot about how the driver is behaving. I've got off a road on more than one occasion when things did not sound right.

    A flashing light does cause issues with tracking. But another issue is that many riders seem oblivious that their lights can be obscured by parts of the bike -- if mounted down on the seat stay, it can disappear behind the tyre from certain angles. Others can be obscured by a rack bag. Some end up pointing downward. And there are those that simply run low on batteries without the rider realising.

    Why not a combination of one flashing light and one fixed-beam light? Redundancy is the name of the lighting game in randonneering, and switching on two lights can alleviate concerns about visibility.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    +1 on using your ears.

    I have, on occasion, turned off all my lights and moved quietly into the ditch to let a vehicle go by without noticing me.

  17. #17
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    what kind of trike are we talking about? But as Steamer said, reflective gear is effective from many angles.
    ICE Sprint RS

    There is some reflective strips on the seat, but mostly are hidden by the panniers. I added some reflective strips around the neck rest too.
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

  18. #18
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I have, on occasion, turned off all my lights and moved quietly into the ditch to let a vehicle go by without noticing me.
    I'm not sure I could get my lights off an into a ditch fast enough.
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    I'm not sure I could get my lights off an into a ditch fast enough.
    You can hear cars from some distance off on a quiet night ... and it's just a matter of stopping, moving aside, clicking off the front light and clicking off the rear light, then standing with your least reflective side facing the oncoming vehicle.

    Or another option is just stopping and laying the bicycle down in the ditch and crouching ... even with lights still on, the grass in the ditch will make them less noticable.

  20. #20
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    laying the bicycle down in the ditch
    That's really hard with a trike.
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

  21. #21
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    You can hear cars from some distance off on a quiet night
    I don't know if I would get anywhere if I stopped for every car.. but there may be less traffic at 2:00 AM than I anticipate.
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    I don't know if I would get anywhere if I stopped for every car.. but there may be less traffic at 2:00 AM than I anticipate.
    First, you wouldn't have to "hide" for every car. You can hear what the cars are doing ... there's a difference between driving normally, and "hooning". And on a quiet road in the middle of the night, that difference is quite evident. In all my night riding, I think I've been compelled to "hide" maybe 2 or 3 times.

    Second, the amount of traffic depends entirely upon where your route is. I've done rides where there have been a grand total of about 3 vehicles between midnight and 6 am. I've done other rides where there have been a fairly steady stream of vehicles throughout the night (mostly semi-trucks).

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    Randomhead
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    so what is your criteria for hiding in the ditch?

  24. #24
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    so what is your criteria for hiding in the ditch?
    Sounds of "hooning".

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