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Ideas for checking for cars approaching from behind?

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Ideas for checking for cars approaching from behind?

Old 04-04-15, 04:50 PM
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Ideas for checking for cars approaching from behind?

If you’re road cycling double file (with someone side by side), any ideas on how to check for cars approaching from behind without having to constantly turn your head?
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Old 04-04-15, 04:52 PM
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Mirror.
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Old 04-04-15, 05:31 PM
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Duh?
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Old 04-04-15, 05:33 PM
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Ears?

If you can't hear an approaching car, the road probably is not suitable for riding a double paceline.
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Old 04-04-15, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by RR3 View Post
Ears?

If you can't hear an approaching car, the road probably is not suitable for riding a double paceline.
+1

Get used to the sound of approaching traffic behind you. With experience you'll often be able o not only that there's a car coming up, but also whether he's making an adjustment for you.

Also, I find it easier to ride in a predictable line, and allow the cars to adjust. I'll move right, or make another adjustment to create passing opportunities on narrow roads, but for he most part let drivers make the adjustments.
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Old 04-04-15, 07:14 PM
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Why would someone ever ride without a mirror? Seems totally daft.
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Old 04-04-15, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
Why would someone ever ride without a mirror? Seems totally daft.
So I guess that the vast majority of bicyclists are totally daft.

Nothing wrong with mirrors, but for my purposes, where I'm passed by hundreds of cars per hour, I can't make practical use of knowing that a car is coming up. By the time I can determine that he's not going around me, it's too late to make use of that info.

I'm aware that a mirror could be very handy when I ant to make a lane change to the left, but so far I have the ability to do that with a head turn. That may change with age, which is why I say so far.

Mirrors exist, use them if you want, don't if you don't.
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Old 04-04-15, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
+1

Get used to the sound of approaching traffic behind you. With experience you'll often be able o not only that there's a car coming up, but also whether he's making an adjustment for you.

Also, I find it easier to ride in a predictable line, and allow the cars to adjust. I'll move right, or make another adjustment to create passing opportunities on narrow roads, but for he most part let drivers make the adjustments.
This. Nicely said, FBinNY.
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Old 04-04-15, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
So I guess that the vast majority of bicyclists are totally daft.

Nothing wrong with mirrors, but for my purposes, where I'm passed by hundreds of cars per hour, I can't make practical use of knowing that a car is coming up. By the time I can determine that he's not going around me, it's too late to make use of that info.

I'm aware that a mirror could be very handy when I ant to make a lane change to the left, but so far I have the ability to do that with a head turn. That may change with age, which is why I say so far.

Mirrors exist, use them if you want, don't if you don't.
Motorists have three mirrors... perhaps if you want to "play" in their stomping grounds, you should consider at least one mirror. Advancing age will teach you the practicality of things as simple as a mirror.
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Old 04-04-15, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by RR3 View Post
Ears?

If you can't hear an approaching car, the road probably is not suitable for riding a double paceline.
+1
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Old 04-04-15, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Motorists have three mirrors... perhaps if you want to "play" in their stomping grounds, you should consider at least one mirror. Advancing age will teach you the practicality of things as simple as a mirror.
I do a lot of tandem riding. My captain uses a mirror and I don't. We alert each other to all hazards, most definitely including overtaking motor vehicles. Guess which one of us is always the first to warn of overtaking motorists and the relative risk involved (like if they are moving over or not)?

Mirrors are fine and I don't have a problem with people choosing to include them on their bikes. However, since we are not enclosed in a shell, we have access to much more sensory information about our surroundings that motorists don't have. To say we need them because motorists need them is simply not a very convincing argument. For people with compromised hearing and flexibility, they are probably a good idea. However, I hope the fear-mongers don't make such a ruckus that they become mandatory equipment.
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Old 04-04-15, 08:21 PM
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My commute runs through long sections with few issues from cross traffic of any sort, and plenty of 40+ mph overtaking action. Because of this, there is way more threat from behind me than in front of me. I monitor practically every last overtaker with my mirror. I find it very relaxing actually knowing for sure what's going on back there. I could never do as well of a monitoring job with ears or head turns alone.
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Old 04-04-15, 08:58 PM
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All of the above. Mirror(s), ears, being predictable as possible......
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Old 04-04-15, 09:01 PM
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At speeds over 10 mph I can't hear much of anything other the wind, and can't hear a car approaching from the rear in time to make any difference unless its the only vehicle on the road.

Head checks and a mirror are the only thing I rely on, hearing is helpful, but not dependable.
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Old 04-04-15, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
My commute runs through long sections with few issues from cross traffic of any sort, and plenty of 40+ mph overtaking action. Because of this, there is way more threat from behind me than in front of me. I monitor practically every last overtaker with my mirror. I find it very relaxing actually knowing for sure what's going on back there. I could never do as well of a monitoring job with ears or head turns alone.
My commute for 7 years was similar except that the speed limit was 55mph. My ears were used for listening to music or audiobooks, my mirror kept me well informed of the status of all approaching traffic from the rear far before hearing them would do any good.
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Old 04-04-15, 09:05 PM
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Listen and look in my eyeglass mounted rear view Take-A-Look mirror.
No need to look over my shoulder.
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Old 04-04-15, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Motorists have three mirrors... perhaps if you want to "play" in their stomping grounds, you should consider at least one mirror. Advancing age will teach you the practicality of things as simple as a mirror.
I added a "so far" to my don't use a mirror post, so if things change, I might too. OTOH- I'm comfortable relying on the same methods that have served me so well for almost 50 years and over 100,000 miles on every kind of road from NYC avenues to narrow 2 lane mountain roads.

In any case, my experience is that the greatest dangers aren't from cars approaching from behind, but unpredictable traffic at intersections.

Either way, I don't advocate for or against mirrors. Everyone should be comfortable making their own decision, free of unsolicited friendly advice from those who think they know better.

Last edited by FBinNY; 04-04-15 at 09:19 PM.
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Old 04-04-15, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
My commute for 7 years was similar except that the speed limit was 55mph. My ears were used for listening to music or audiobooks, my mirror kept me well informed of the status of all approaching traffic from the rear far before hearing them would do any good.
Exactly. Some of my roads have 55+ motor traffic too... 40 is pretty much the minimum actual speed here. The point is that I'm constantly being overtaken... Sometimes by large groups of tailgating motorists at high speed. Your ears tell you nothing in this situation... might as well listen to your earbuds.

Last edited by AlmostTrick; 04-04-15 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 04-04-15, 10:48 PM
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I use my ears to catch the traffic coming from behind. My concern for the future is that more and more cars will be hybrid or electric, thus will be a lot quieter. I was riding in the neighbourhood the other day and although it was a quiet day on an almost empty road, I missed the sound of the Prius coming from behind. Not that it was any danger to me, as the car slowly and safely passed me, but it got me wondering whether I should buy a mirror soon.
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Old 04-04-15, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by daihard View Post
I use my ears to catch the traffic coming from behind.
Me too, and this works wonderfully when only dealing with the occasional car. But what if you are being passed by dozens of cars that are following each other very close, and all you hear is car noise? Do your ears catch the rare car that is about to run you over or clip you in this situation?

Ears are great tools, but I prefer to verify with my eyes.
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Old 04-05-15, 08:30 AM
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Ears are unreliable. Wind noise in the ears, nearer cars/trucks and other sounds can drown out the sound of cars approaching from behind. If there is a car beside you, you won't be able to hear if another is further behind and approaching. Also the nature of the road surface and vehicles tires can greatly effect the amount of sound they make. Mirrors are 100% reliable within their field of view, which is large and steerable for eyeglass or helmet mounted mirrors.
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Old 04-05-15, 08:38 AM
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Most ride riders don't know how to use a mirror. That is why they ride in groups.

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Old 04-05-15, 08:50 AM
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I am partially deaf, so a mirror for me, safety first.
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Old 04-05-15, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Motorists have three mirrors... perhaps if you want to "play" in their stomping grounds, you should consider at least one mirror. Advancing age will teach you the practicality of things as simple as a mirror.
+100
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Old 04-05-15, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
Me too, and this works wonderfully when only dealing with the occasional car. But what if you are being passed by dozens of cars that are following each other very close, and all you hear is car noise? Do your ears catch the rare car that is about to run you over or clip you in this situation?

Ears are great tools, but I prefer to verify with my eyes.
I use both ears and eyes... The routes I have commuted have so much traffic that ears alone are not enough. But they do add information to me that I consider vital. These days somewhat silent cars exist in the form of electric vehicles... they make tire noise, but with a background of motor vehicles, the electric cars are nearly silent.

I use the mirror to look for gaps in traffic... and to check for traffic from a distance (that I hear on quiet roads). When making a turn or lane change, I check the mirror first... is there a potential gap? But before I actually turn or lane change, I turn my head and do an over the shoulder check. Mirrors are good, but nothing beats that full head check to ensure that there isn't some driver trying to fill your "potential gap" from some other lane.

Using all my senses, and being in the environment, makes me as keenly aware of traffic as I can be.

BTW there is no "perfect mirror." They all have limited view angles, and if you are not comfortable using a particular mirror, you won't trust it. I don't like helmet mirrors... so I use a handle bar mirror. Other cyclists have other solutions. Try different mirrors until you find something that works for you... don't "give up" just because the first try just doesn't seem to work for you.

Using a mirror means not having to "constantly move your head... " But, always, always, before moving into the potential path of others... do a head check.

Last edited by genec; 04-05-15 at 10:36 AM.
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