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  1. #1
    Senior Member Cadillac's Avatar
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    Are 'bents safe on the highway?

    On another post someone was concerned that his wife did not want him riding his 'bent because of being taunted by others.

    The concern that I have had expressed to me was that of safety on the highway.
    Because a 'bent is lower to the ground (great for aerodynamic advantage), it becomes harder for automobiles to see. I am told that it is almost mandatory for a 'bent to ride with a flag/streamer for the safety factor.

    I am considering getting a Catrike Road or possibly the new Catrike Black Cat, but they are particularly low to the ground.
    "Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
    The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
    But then begins a journey in my head,
    To work my mind, when body's work's expired"
    -- Shakespeare Sonnet XXVII
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  2. #2
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    HI,

    I have ridden the Redmount for about 2 yrs I have NEVER had any car pass close enough to hit with my arm - they tend to treat you like a slow moving tractor and they really skirt round. I think probably the biggest problem I have is that I get to a high speed (37.5mph - is my fastest so far) and I really resent slowing down at roundabouts and junctions, whizzing between cars going round the roundabout is FAR more dangerous than being low down.

    I also have a flourescent jacket over the back of the seat - this flaps a bit and draws attention.

    It is strange but once you ride one on the road - you lose that sense of risk + on my trike I have two great mirrors and I can see cars coming behind much easier than a bike...

    Hope this allays your concerns a little.

    Jonoffun

  3. #3
    meb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadillac
    On another post someone was concerned that his wife did not want him riding his 'bent because of being taunted by others.

    The concern that I have had expressed to me was that of safety on the highway.
    Because a 'bent is lower to the ground (great for aerodynamic advantage), it becomes harder for automobiles to see. I am told that it is almost mandatory for a 'bent to ride with a flag/streamer for the safety factor.

    I am considering getting a Catrike Road or possibly the new Catrike Black Cat, but they are particularly low to the ground.
    Some people have been discussing water noodles for trike visibility.

    My Corsa trike has an explicit warning label against street use, I try and stay on trails-but my tike is lower than a Catrike Speed.

    This is ultimate in dual purpose high visibility propulsion equipment:

    http://paulworden.freeservers.com/Safety Sail.htm

  4. #4
    sch
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    Trikes are a little different because they are equivalent to two bikes side by side and
    keeping the right sided wheel on the pavement takes a little more attention when it is
    on the rear and invisible compared to riding on the white painted line with a two
    wheeler. Busy highways take a bit of nerve because cars may not have L sided clearance to go around. Bents don't seem less visible to cars when traffic is low,
    but a lot of cars at speed on busier roads may well not see you til too late, sort of like
    being in a peloton that goes by a small pothole-you don't see it til it is too late and if you are back a ways you may not have heard the verbal warning or seen the pointing hand. The 3d or 5th car may not see why cars ahead a dodging around. On the other hand it is easy to keep to a straight line with a trike. Steve
    Last edited by sch; 10-10-04 at 09:19 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Cadillac's Avatar
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    A Catrike is a tadpole -- i.e., two wheels up front and one in the rear. Its width is 30 inches (760mm), so on shouldered roads it does not take up much more space than a two-wheeler (DF or bent) at 20 inches (500mm). So while there might be a problem with a trike that has two wheels in the back in not knowing where the left rear wheel is in relation to the road; a Catrike's left wheel is always in sight. The real problem with a tadpole design is in avoiding potholes and debris with the front two wheels and forgetting that the middle rear wheel might hit them.

    However, the point remains, as you have pointed out, that several vehicles in a row might cause one of them to fail to see a low-riding 'bent (whether trike or bike). Yet in relation to a DF (which may have a similar problem), is a 'bent less safe than a DF? Does a flag or streamer obviate that danger factor?
    "Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
    The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
    But then begins a journey in my head,
    To work my mind, when body's work's expired"
    -- Shakespeare Sonnet XXVII
    Click here to visit Motorera.com

  6. #6
    Addicted to Tinkering NuTz4BiKeZ's Avatar
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    I ride a lot on highways (New Zealand highways) and have found that on my bents and trike cars do tend to give me more space than when riding my road or mtb bikes.
    I figure being low isnt the problem so much because drivers manage to see lines painted on the road, I think the key is to be predictable and try to ride where drivers would expect to encounter traffic ie I don't hug the shoulder of the road, I ride partially in the lane but do move over when the car is approaching.
    Flags, vests etc are good although I go with some Hi vis tape on my seat backs and bags.... Mirrors are a must.

    Remember we are traffic so I try to act like it
    A friend would bail you out of jail... A good friend sits there beside you and says "Damn that was fun"

    Backyard Bents
    My Cycling Blog

  7. #7
    Senior Member bentbaggerlen's Avatar
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    Yep, found the same thing riding our Troika tandem, cars would give us lots of room when they pass. I was worried that some would drive off the other side of the road sometimes. Same with the two wheeld recumbent tandems.

    Do not ride under cars at stop signs or lights, or pass slower moving cars on the left. And dont ride in their blind spots... if they even bother to use the rear view mirror.
    Bentbaggerlen
    "When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking." - Arthur Conan Doyle

  8. #8
    Jazz from Hell glomarduck's Avatar
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    I saw two hpv's in central park moving way too fast for bikes ( and totally dangerous for pedestrians seeing how the two riders were not showing very good bike handling skills at the high speed) and almost at the level of cars in speed but way to little. You guys I think are in some weird limbo between bikes and cars.
    I carried it around with me for days and days.. playing little games like not looking at it for a whole day and then.. looking at it. to see if I still liked it. I DID!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadillac
    On another post someone was concerned that his wife did not want him riding his 'bent because of being taunted by others.
    What?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Cadillac's Avatar
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    The reference is to Recumbents and bad image where the discussion was about the bad image that recumbents have.
    "Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
    The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
    But then begins a journey in my head,
    To work my mind, when body's work's expired"
    -- Shakespeare Sonnet XXVII
    Click here to visit Motorera.com

  11. #11
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    Taunted by others? I've never been taunted by other cyclists on my Linear and only ever got a negative comment on it once, when pulling a trailer through a down-market town with high unemployment where anyone not in a ten year old car is strange and unusual.

    Almost everyone I meet on my 'bent smiles and most of them say they like my bike too!

    Safe on the highway with cars - I find cars pay more attention to it than they do my racer or MTB - on the recumbent you are AT eye-level with a car driver, not above it as you are on a "normal
    " bike" and certainly not below it.

    Just get out and ride it! And shout "Hey, blue (or whatever colour) car, get out the way!" when they do something stupid. It's part of car driving, passing Dumb 101.

  12. #12
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    Cadillac,
    I have an EZ Sport bent and I have a bike flag attached to the seat to increase my visibility. I think the flag is most important just in case I get caught in a row of cars, where the cars three or four back may not know I'm there without the flag. Even without the flag I have never felt that cars couldn't see me. In fact, I usually hear them slowing down as they come up on me. I'm still a fairly new recumbent rider, and I feel a little more vulnerable on the recumbent than with my regular bikes, but I think that's a mind-thing. I've read where recumbents may be actually more noticeable because they are more of a rarity on the road and catch the driver's attention, whereas a regular bike may get "tuned out" by a driver.

  13. #13
    Honorable Member beowoulfe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadillac
    I am considering getting a Catrike Road or possibly the new Catrike Black Cat, but they are particularly low to the ground.
    I ride a Greenspeed GTO and have nearly 3K miles of loaded touring. I've had less problem on the trike than I ever did on a wedgie.
    Greenspeed GTO 1027

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