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Vehicular Cycling (VC) No other subject has polarized the A&S members like VC has. Here's a place to share, debate, and educate.

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Old 01-10-09, 12:42 PM   #1
morganw
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Stay out of the shadows!

Street view of situation

Cyclist heading East on Valley Green towards intersection with Bandley riding on the shoulder while I was heading West, preparing to turn South onto Bandley.

The VC advocates are right: even as a cyclist, when I'm driving, I look where I expect cars to be. There were shadows in the shoulder and the cyclist was wearing grey/neutral colors. I did see him, slowed & prepared to stop & the cyclist turned onto Bandly anyway, but it really drove home the point that staying out in the middle of the lane when there's no car traffic trying to pass is a good idea.
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Old 01-14-09, 07:11 PM   #2
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I stay off the black tiles....

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Old 01-14-09, 07:21 PM   #3
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I run blinkies front and back, day and night. It seems to help.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 01-15-09, 07:25 AM   #4
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I saw a good demonstration of setting sun glare yesterday... a cyclist was just ahead and slightly to the right of our car yesterday as my wife drove. I was the passenger. That cyclist disappeared in the glare of the sun. He was simply not there. There was no silhouette or anything. I could see easily how a motorist could miss this cyclist while both drove into the sun.

The cyclist was wearing a bright yellow jacket and that didn't help. Perhaps a blinkie on the back might have made the difference.

At any rate, I could really see a problem with taking the lane while riding into the sun. You CAN really disappear.

Keep this in mind the next time you are heading into a morning or evening low sun.
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Old 01-18-09, 10:04 AM   #5
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I saw a good demonstration of setting sun glare yesterday... a cyclist was just ahead and slightly to the right of our car yesterday as my wife drove. I was the passenger. That cyclist disappeared in the glare of the sun. He was simply not there.

The cyclist was wearing a bright yellow jacket and that didn't help. Perhaps a blinkie on the back might have made the difference.
Maybe if he wore a black outfit he would've made a stronger silhouette...

Anyway, yeah, situations like these are why I run lights during the day, especially a headlight. Sun glare isn't so much of a problem in my neighborhood, but background clutter is, and the more I can look like a moving object, the better.
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Old 01-18-09, 10:16 AM   #6
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Maybe if he wore a black outfit he would've made a stronger silhouette...

Anyway, yeah, situations like these are why I run lights during the day, especially a headlight. Sun glare isn't so much of a problem in my neighborhood, but background clutter is, and the more I can look like a moving object, the better.
I doubt black would have helped... and further along this path, south on an intersecting road, is an area lined with trees and thus the very shadows mentioned earlier in this thread. I have seen cyclists vanish in the shadows too.

I have to fully agree with your daylight lights under these adverse lighting conditions... perhaps that would have been the solution for glare too... it may have been enough to "break" the glare situation and make the cyclist stand out.
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Old 01-18-09, 02:30 PM   #7
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... it really drove home the point that staying out in the middle of the lane when there's no car traffic trying to pass is a good idea.
Why not further left?

The notion that smack in the middle of the lane is the optimal position for a bicyclist is very interesting. First of all it's not true. The constant recitation of this 'middle of the lane' stuff tells us that the VC-ists, for all their bleating to the contrary, are more concerned with the cars behind them than those who might cross in front of them.
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Old 01-23-09, 03:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
I saw a good demonstration of setting sun glare yesterday... a cyclist was just ahead and slightly to the right of our car yesterday as my wife drove. I was the passenger. That cyclist disappeared in the glare of the sun. He was simply not there. There was no silhouette or anything. I could see easily how a motorist could miss this cyclist while both drove into the sun.

The cyclist was wearing a bright yellow jacket and that didn't help. Perhaps a blinkie on the back might have made the difference.

At any rate, I could really see a problem with taking the lane while riding into the sun. You CAN really disappear.

Keep this in mind the next time you are heading into a morning or evening low sun.
Under these circumstances, full cars and even trucks can "disappear" in the sun's glare. I remember driving directly west in California a long time ago, with the sun coming right down on the straight roadway. I decided it was not safe to drive, found a restaurant, and had a piece of pie. Afte half an hour, the sun was down and I started out again. This can be an extremely dangerous situation, not only for cyclists, but for all users of the roadway. In these circumstances, riding in the middle of the roadway may not help at all, and could result in a direct hit, rather than a glancing blow.

John

Last edited by John C. Ratliff; 01-23-09 at 03:56 PM. Reason: add a few sentences about riding techniques with the sun glare directly down the roadway.
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Old 01-23-09, 05:09 PM   #9
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Under these circumstances, full cars and even trucks can "disappear" in the sun's glare. I remember driving directly west in California a long time ago, with the sun coming right down on the straight roadway. I decided it was not safe to drive, found a restaurant, and had a piece of pie. Afte half an hour, the sun was down and I started out again. This can be an extremely dangerous situation, not only for cyclists, but for all users of the roadway. In these circumstances, riding in the middle of the roadway may not help at all, and could result in a direct hit, rather than a glancing blow.

John
I could believe it... I was really appalled at how effectively the cyclist disappeared... and considered that taking the lane in such a situation would indeed be really bad.

Right then I vowed that if ever I was lowering my own helmet visor to block the sun, to keep in mind that motorists could not see me. The sad thing is I was considering using that road (into the sun) as my commute route.
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Old 01-23-09, 05:28 PM   #10
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I could believe it... I was really appalled at how effectively the cyclist disappeared... and considered that taking the lane in such a situation would indeed be really bad.

Right then I vowed that if ever I was lowering my own helmet visor to block the sun, to keep in mind that motorists could not see me. The sad thing is I was considering using that road (into the sun) as my commute route.
The good thing is that you have an excuse to stay back for Happy Hour.
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Old 01-23-09, 05:31 PM   #11
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The good thing is that you have an excuse to stay back for Happy Hour.
Or go the other route.... which is too bad, cause the "into the sun route" goes right by the ocean and a beautiful view.
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Old 01-23-09, 09:14 PM   #12
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The notion that smack in the middle of the lane is the optimal position for a bicyclist is very interesting.
Particularly when motorcycle training courses discourage riding in this location.
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Old 01-24-09, 03:58 AM   #13
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Particularly when motorcycle training courses discourage riding in this location.
That's mostly because the middle of the lane is slicker from leaking engine oil. Doesn't have much to do with visibility.
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Old 01-24-09, 08:39 AM   #14
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That's mostly because the middle of the lane is slicker from leaking engine oil. Doesn't have much to do with visibility.
I would think a cyclist lying on the road after a crash would be harder to see.
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Old 01-24-09, 09:12 AM   #15
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Sure, but the idea is to not crash in the first place. And, like I said, the reasoning given to motorcyclists to stay out of the center of the lane has nothing to do with extra visibility. It's because car & truck engines are routinely over the center, making it where they tend to drip oil. Hitting the brakes on greasy pavement just doesn't work so well.
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Old 01-24-09, 01:57 PM   #16
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The other issue with the central part of a lane is pavement bulges due to heavy vehicles, particularly in the curb lane where cyclists and heavy vehicles travel the most.

I'm not saying I don't sometimes use the centre of the lane... but often it ends up as an oily dome of pavement. Which generally precludes using it as a safe road position regardless of the stated purpose.
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Old 01-28-09, 08:29 PM   #17
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Aside from the pavement issues, I'd like to concentrate an the actual problem of why the bicyclist, or a car, can disappear in the circumstances of looking directly into the sun. Here's a photo I took of a glass with sunlight coming right in on it:


Now look at much the same photo, but with the camera exposing to the white light where the sun hits the glass:

Because the sensor on the camera was right on the brightest spot in this scene, the camera "stopped down" the lens, or closed the aperture opening down to make the exposure. Notice that the water spill behind the glass has virtually disappeared.

We do the same thing with our eyes. It is a physiological response to bright light, and we cannot keep it from happening if we allow the eye to "see" extremely bright lights. This happens when looking into a sunset, or an extremely bright light.

The extremely bright light is another cause, and for bicyclists and that is car headlights. The new, blue, LED lights are extremely bright, and will allow someone to see out to a quarter mile. But in doing that, they also will blind oncoming drivers and bicyclists.

This effect has been known for years, but nobody tells people how to avoid this loss of night vision. My Dad showed me how when I was learning how to drive, in about 1960. When an oncoming car is coming at you, do not look right at it. The bright spot of the headlights will therefore not focus on the folvea of the lens (the center, very sensitive, area). It will focus to the side, and spare the center the extreme brightness. It is this brightness which washes out the cones, and therefore the person looses vision from those cells for a period of time (this is our night vision, or black and white vision). If we can keep the center from being exposed, we will retain this vision. But if we cannot, we loose it for seconds to minutes, depending upon the brightness. My Dad taught me to look to the right side of the roadway (in the USA), away from these lights, to retain the ability to see just after the car passes.

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu...n/rodcone.html

John

Last edited by John C. Ratliff; 01-28-09 at 08:53 PM. Reason: add a sentence about the water spill
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