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How Often are You ‘Not Seen’…

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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.
View Poll Results: How Often are You ‘Not Seen' by motorists
Never
7
10.94%
Seldom
22
34.38%
Occasionally
23
35.94%
Often
7
10.94%
All the time
5
7.81%
Voters: 64. You may not vote on this poll

How Often are You ‘Not Seen’…

Old 01-30-12, 11:03 AM
  #1  
AlmostTrick
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How Often are You ‘Not Seen’…

by motorists while riding your bike on the road?

How common of a problem is this for you? Do you take any measures to prevent it from happening? How much do these measures help?

Discuss.
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Old 01-30-12, 11:28 AM
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Happens once or twice a week. I'll be approaching a two way stop (no stop sign for me) and see the driver look both ways while staring straight through me. They will pull into the intersection and then slam on the brakes when I yell at them. I wear a high visibility jacket and have good lights so it is obviously a matter of motorists only looking for cars. If you are not looking for bike, you will not see bikes.
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Old 01-30-12, 11:50 AM
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I too wear high vis vest and tend to wear orange or yellow when I ride. I also have very good lighting. But the roads I commute on (the ONLY roads available) are high speed multi-lane arterial roads... and motorists are already "battling" each other... the last thing they are going to do is take an extra moment to actually look for cyclists.

The pic below shows my usual commute setup.



In spite of what I wear, I still often have to avoid motorists that are shortcutting the rules of the road, or look right through me or, are distracted by cell phones and the like. I ride in a very vehicular manner and signal boldly. (this BTW is why I call BS on vehicular cycling... I see the failure mechanisms daily, and often have to react to my NOT being treated as a driver of a vehicle).

Time and time again I have seen the look in a motorist's eyes as they suddenly really do realize that I am "right there."
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Old 01-30-12, 12:50 PM
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On the streets of Copenhagen, I'd guess on average once a week. Typically outside of rush hours. As this is almost allways in intersections, the cars are moving relatively slowly, so I rarely have a dangerous situation. But it's true: it's not so much a matter of the drivers failing to judge the situation rightly - they're just staring right through you. It's a truly bizarre phenomenon, not least here, of all places.

I don't think it ever happened to me on a rural road, but then, the bulk of my cycling is in urban areas/suburbs.

Slightly off topic but: I don't think I've ever been "doored". Been close, or felt I was close, a couple times, that's all.
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Old 01-30-12, 12:53 PM
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I always act like I'm not seen. This is ingrained since I also ride a motorcycle.
I find if I just know I'm hard to see and act appropriately I don't get surprised nearly as often.
Sometimes drivers look "right through me" and I know, even with eye contact, they don't really see me.
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Old 01-30-12, 01:18 PM
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I wear a goldenrod yellow coat, and have my bike covered in reflective tape... Works Really good for any after dark riding, but DAMN! I'm still invisible in daylight. I now ride with a NiteRider MiNewt 600 Cordless in flash mode for my daytime rides, and it set on low (with a MiNewt X2 on flash) at night.
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Old 01-30-12, 01:33 PM
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I can't tell, when a motorist doesn't see me. Because for all I know, a motorist may have seen me. But chose to pull some moronic asinine move despite the fact.
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Old 01-30-12, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
I too wear high vis vest and tend to wear orange or yellow when I ride. I also have very good lighting. But the roads I commute on (the ONLY roads available) are high speed multi-lane arterial roads... and motorists are already "battling" each other... the last thing they are going to do is take an extra moment to actually look for cyclists.

The pic below shows my usual commute setup.



In spite of what I wear, I still often have to avoid motorists that are shortcutting the rules of the road, or look right through me or, are distracted by cell phones and the like. I ride in a very vehicular manner and signal boldly. (this BTW is why I call BS on vehicular cycling... I see the failure mechanisms daily, and often have to react to my NOT being treated as a driver of a vehicle).

Time and time again I have seen the look in a motorist's eyes as they suddenly really do realize that I am "right there."
My experiences have been similar, but I don't believe that that VC thing is an either-or choice. Instead, it's situational. There are situations where riding VC probably does reduce the rate of people "not seeing" you, and there are situations where that benefit is outweighed by other hazards. You just have to maintain situational awareness at all times, regardless of what technique you use to ride, because NO riding style is a magic talisman that is going to make all motorists notice you and treat you competently and with respect. No high-vis clothing is going to do that either, despite what we might like to believe. It's certainly better than not wearing it, but we still live in an imperfect world where a lot of motorists simply suck at driving and/or are distracted.

I see the "looking without seeing" thing about once a week, too. It's one reason I watch both the front wheels of vehicles AND where their drivers' eyes are, and also make liberal use of hand gestures. The extended arm with palm facing out in a "stop gesture" is often effective in situations where I'm not sure whether the person has seen me, and you usually will see them notice and react when you use it, in my experience (although you should also be ready to take evasive action in case they don't).
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Old 01-30-12, 02:04 PM
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The most often occurrence of "not being seen" is at an intersection waiting to cross.

I generally wear a high-vis top and hat. Red blinky AND a really wonderful xenon white strobe in the rear. I run the same white xenon strobe in the front and have a blue flashing "Bike Glow" on the frame for evening/night riding so I am visible from the side. And yes, I do have a Airzounds horn for when I know the person hasn't looked my way - gets their attention
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Old 01-30-12, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mnemia View Post
My experiences have been similar, but I don't believe that that VC thing is an either-or choice. Instead, it's situational. There are situations where riding VC probably does reduce the rate of people "not seeing" you, and there are situations where that benefit is outweighed by other hazards. You just have to maintain situational awareness at all times, regardless of what technique you use to ride, because NO riding style is a magic talisman that is going to make all motorists notice you and treat you competently and with respect. No high-vis clothing is going to do that either, despite what we might like to believe. It's certainly better than not wearing it, but we still live in an imperfect world where a lot of motorists simply suck at driving and/or are distracted.

I see the "looking without seeing" thing about once a week, too. It's one reason I watch both the front wheels of vehicles AND where their drivers' eyes are, and also make liberal use of hand gestures. The extended arm with palm facing out in a "stop gesture" is often effective in situations where I'm not sure whether the person has seen me, and you usually will see them notice and react when you use it, in my experience (although you should also be ready to take evasive action in case they don't).
VC is not an either or choice, as I have no other choice... If I was able to choose some other "choice" it would be to not ride on high speed arterial roads acting like the driver of a vehicle in the hopes I will be treated as one... the solutions I see are to either provide suitable alternatives, or to traffic calm the existing roads so that they serve more than just motorists with the current (share the road) simplistic nod to peds and cyclists. Of course there are those that will say "it cannot be done," but I know this to be false as the funding for such changes is typically devoted to more interstate roadway that again are designed (at on and off ramps) without cyclists in mind, and in other areas of this same town I do see traffic calming designs being implemented.

It takes the will to make such changes, and sadly such will usually only follows after several deaths. The most irritating aspect is that while traffic calming can be implemented, funds are instead used for highway improvement... and cycling and pedestrian facilities remain woefully low on the funding and planning areas.

BTW the signaling you mention is what I consider bold signaling... more than just your basic turn signals, but stop gestures, and pointing gestures that indicate where I want to go and what motorists should do... some of which is accepted, other signals staunchly ignored (motorists acting as if you simply do not matter). And of course always planning for an "out."

But if expect more people to cycle, the comfort level for cyclists without some 30 years experience has to be better... lest they never achieve those years of experience.

Also BTW I believe all cyclists should be expected to ride in a VC manner... but should not be "forced" to do so in the presence of high speed motor traffic... VC works fine at 25-30MPH, but the effectiveness diminishes as the speed differential increases. (this is clearly illustrated by the "need" to do ped left turns)
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Old 01-30-12, 03:33 PM
  #11  
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Dinotte daytime visabilty flashers, amber front, red rear. Best cycling $$ ever spent
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Old 01-30-12, 06:30 PM
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Very rarely. Only time I remember that I'm sure of was when a guy was looking for tjhe doctors office, not looking at the road at all.

But then part of my jersey selection is to make sure anyone whoo hits me can't say they did not see me. They might say they were blinded by hte bright jersey, but not that they did not see me.
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Old 01-30-12, 06:45 PM
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Happened tonight. Coasting down a hill on a empty 4-lane street, after dark, at around 18 mph. Car pulling out of the Humane Society of Missouri parking lot rushes up to the street, and fails to notice me (strobing white light on the front, strobing red light on the back, both very bright), and pulls out right in front of me. I had to swerve, and she noticed me then and gave me an "I'm sorry!" wave. Perhaps the Humane Society should also teach bicycle/pedestrian awareness in addition to puppy/kitten awareness.

As always, it could have been worse. I saw her rushing up to the street and more or less figured she wouldn't see (i.e. not bother looking for) me, and starting planning my maneuver accordingly. I'd say 7/10 times someone doesn't look for me, I can predict it by watching their driving behavior immediately before. Rushing up to a stop or light, failing to look my direction, blabbing on the cell phone, etc. Typical behavior of a driver careless or oblivious to the ability of their vehicle to kill and injure others.

After tonight, I'm contemplating purchasing some lights to make my bike more visible from the side, rather than just the front or back.
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Old 01-30-12, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by DirtRoadRunner View Post
Happened tonight. Coasting down a hill on a empty 4-lane street, after dark, at around 18 mph. Car pulling out of the Humane Society of Missouri parking lot rushes up to the street, and fails to notice me (strobing white light on the front, strobing red light on the back, both very bright), and pulls out right in front of me. I had to swerve, and she noticed me then and gave me an "I'm sorry!" wave. Perhaps the Humane Society should also teach bicycle/pedestrian awareness in addition to puppy/kitten awareness.

As always, it could have been worse. I saw her rushing up to the street and more or less figured she wouldn't see (i.e. not bother looking for) me, and starting planning my maneuver accordingly. I'd say 7/10 times someone doesn't look for me, I can predict it by watching their driving behavior immediately before. Rushing up to a stop or light, failing to look my direction, blabbing on the cell phone, etc. Typical behavior of a driver careless or oblivious to the ability of their vehicle to kill and injure others.

After tonight, I'm contemplating purchasing some lights to make my bike more visible from the side, rather than just the front or back.
I like to "waggle" my headlights at those folks... get 'em right in the eyes. Of course if they pull up to the stop or light and you only have less than the width of the street before they pull out on you, you have very little escape room. I also use my AirZounds on these sort of folks.
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Old 01-30-12, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by DirtRoadRunner View Post
After tonight, I'm contemplating purchasing some lights to make my bike more visible from the side, rather than just the front or back.
That visibility will be subjective. Tonight, I was on a bike path(ugh) that runs parallel to a state road. I came to a road that connects to the southbound lanes of the state road. There was a car there waiting to enter the southbound traffic, blocking my path like he didn't have a care in the world. I moved my headlights up n' down and moved my handlebars side-to-side. Neither attempt got the motorist's attention. He just kept looking at the southbound traffic.

Either his peripheral vision was bad and/or, the motorist was just plain ignorant to bike/ped traffic(and no I am not giving him the benefit of the doubt).

So if you do get lights, you still have to watch out for motorized imbociles.
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Old 01-30-12, 09:19 PM
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If the sun's not shining, I have at least one light on; cloudy days get the rear blinkie, darkness gets two headlights added.

I also ride where the F I choose (since sidewalks are legal here -- if I don't feel like riding energetically, I'll stay out of the flow of idiots) -- I've ridden through people's yards to get where I need to go, usually this time of year, because snowplow drivers routinely bury sidewalks/MUPs, etc. BUT, when I ride on the road, I ride according to the laws (except I will blow a stop sign at an empty intersection). I will also call out any driver who disrespects my equal right to the roads....
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Old 01-30-12, 10:25 PM
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Except once about 4 years ago I have never seen a behavior by a motorist who was in a location for potential path interference that indicated to me I was not seen.
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Old 01-30-12, 10:41 PM
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Not very often, and the last incident was sometime last year. In trying to pull out of a business driveway and check for traffic, a motorist stuck the nose of her car out into the gutter bike lane I was in, all the while with her looking at traffic coming in the opposite direction.

Fortune was in my favor in that I was going slowly up hill, and the shocked look on her face was priceless when she finally turned to look in my direction and discover me sitting on my bike, just inches from her door.
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Old 01-30-12, 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
On the streets of Copenhagen, I'd guess on average once a week.
Once a week! Even on the mean streets of Oahu, I would rank my experience as no more than once a month.
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Old 01-31-12, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
Once a week! Even on the mean streets of Oahu, I would rank my experience as no more than once a month.
Judging from the reports above, Oahu must be a whole lot more peacefull and law abiding than the rest of the world, including the rest of the USA
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Old 01-31-12, 04:38 AM
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Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
Judging from the reports above, Oahu must be a whole lot more peacefull and law abiding than the rest of the world, including the rest of the USA
Or maybe the VC riding that you so ardently disparage, actually works. Florida is the only location that I had real concerns with drivers not paying attention. Using an HID light at night makes a big difference in getting the attention of drivers that may otherwise look right through a standard bike light.

Odd that you would think that people looking right through cyclist would be anti-peaceful or law abiding. How did you ever link those.

There is a difference between intentional harassment and looking through a cyclist.
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Old 01-31-12, 05:20 AM
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Yesterday, near the beginning of my ride, I was going through a construction zone, in the two-lane blacktop near my house. The northbound lane I was in, eventually widens to two lanes for a short distance to the intersection. As I was riding past the construction zone, a motorist stood on their car horn, just because I wouldn't get out of their way. While the parts where the street was dug up, have been filled in, it is worse than a speed bump, so riding over it is like going over rumble strips. The motorist gave up on getting me out of their way. So they just passed me in the oncoming lane.

So in that situation I know I was definitely seen.

On a four-lane state road as I was going northbound, a motorist started to pull out of a McDonalds location. But this time, even though I was 'taking the lane', I must have been transparent. Because he pulled out of the McDonalds parking lot and halfway into the lane. I had to quickly swerve to avoid him.
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Old 01-31-12, 05:29 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
Or maybe the VC riding that you so ardently disparage, actually works. Florida is the only location that I had real concerns with drivers not paying attention. Using an HID light at night makes a big difference in getting the attention of drivers that may otherwise look right through a standard bike light.

Odd that you would think that people looking right through cyclist would be anti-peaceful or law abiding. How did you ever link those.

There is a difference between intentional harassment and looking through a cyclist.
its a fools game to think riding in the travel lane prevents riders from being overlooked. happens regularly to motorcyclists, happens regularly to bicyclists - even while riding squarely in the lane
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Old 01-31-12, 05:35 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
Or maybe the VC riding that you so ardently disparage, actually works. Florida is the only location that I had real concerns with drivers not paying attention. Using an HID light at night makes a big difference in getting the attention of drivers that may otherwise look right through a standard bike light.

Odd that you would think that people looking right through cyclist would be anti-peaceful or law abiding. How did you ever link those.

There is a difference between intentional harassment and looking through a cyclist.
You're right, of course, if "peacefull and law abiding" is taken in the sense you take it.

However, you do seem to miss that Genec riding VC is confronted with not being seen as often as am I. I would guess that it will often happen at much higher speed than what can happen here.

In case you wish to discuss the VC vs bike infrastructure, please find someone else to have that conversation with. I'm sick and tired of people riding under conditions that statistically are four times as dangerous as they needed be, still telling us that bike infrastructure is dangerous.

Enough is enough.
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Old 01-31-12, 06:40 AM
  #25  
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Once in a while a driver acts in a way that leads me to believe I may not have been seen but it's always possible s/he either misjudged my speed or was evoking right of weight. This mostly happens when I am in a marked bike lane on a busy street. This does not lead me to conclude using bike lanes is dangerous but, rather, the farther right I ride and the greater the difference between my speed and motor traffic the more caution is appropriate at all intersections of any type.

For me, the basics are very simple:
  • If the lane is wide enough and other conditions appropriate, share it.
  • If the lane is too narrow or other conditions making sharing inappropriate, take it.
  • If there's a good bike lane, use it.
  • If there's a bad bike lane, report it and don't use it.
  • If a street/road seems too dangerous, stay off it.
  • Since you can't control other road users control yourself.
  • If you want to improve riding conditions, support at least one organization of your choice.
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