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Mirrors and taking the lane

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Mirrors and taking the lane

Old 08-28-01, 07:56 AM
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rslatkin
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Mirrors and taking the lane

I've read a lot of discussion about whether having a mirror on a bike is a good idea. Some people argue that it's dangerous because people might not think they need to look over their shoulder before changing lanes, etc. I like having a mirror so that I can see when there is a break in traffic coming up, and then I look over my shoulder before moving over. That way I can save my neck-craning for when it is most useful.

My commute takes me up a steep (for me) longish (again, for me) hill on a four lane road. The lane is wide enough to share with cars, especially since I'm going pretty slowly and so are most of the cars. This morning as I was grinding up the hill, I saw a large commercial truck coming up behind me in my mirror. I knew the lane wasn't big enough to share with the truck, so I looked back and then moved left a bit. It was scary, and I'm not sure I did a great job of riding in a straight line, but the truck driver got the idea and slowed down until he could move partially into the next lane to pass me. He was probably delayed about 30 seconds, and he did a great job of not passing me too closely. My other option was to pull into a driveway until he passed, and I might have done that if it had been a two lane road.

I think mirrors and Effective Cycling are great!
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Old 08-28-01, 09:03 AM
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Gus Riley
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rslatkin,

I agree with your position concerning mirrors on the bike. I use one always, its the type mounted on my glasses. On our tandem, my better-half has one on her handlebars (so we have "double coverage" of what's behind us.

I spent a year in South Korea and rode a bunch of miles there. In the city my mirror was very useful, in that I could keep constant attention to what was going on in front of me (Believe me you had to!) and watch behind for trucks, taxis and buses. This difinitly helped me in being assertive enough to take a lane when I felt I needed to (Like to pass stopped taxis and buses) while still being part of traffic flow.

Conversley, none of my riding mates used a mirror. When in the city they were constantly doing the head swivel and losing time and distance to me. As I was able to constantly check traffic in front and behind and smoothly pull into traffic and take the lane they were slower to do so and not nearly as smooth. Smooth predictability was a must in Korea! You have to understand that although the Korean drivers see a lot of bicyles, they don't have them in traffic with the flow of traffic normally.

A mirror allows me to see traffic moving over (making room for me) long before they pass me. It's a comfort to see this, es[especially when it is a semi traveling at 60 mph.

Although it doesn't happen too often, when a driver decides there is room to pass me/us despite oncoming traffic, with the mirror I can see it and do one of two things: Take my/our lane (while keeping a wary eye on the idiot, so I/we can bail out if needed) or move further to the right and duck side mirrors ETC.

I have to mention that my year of riding in Korea was a great pleasure. There was no road rage and the drivers were courtious.
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Old 08-28-01, 09:16 AM
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RainmanP
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Exactly!

I use the mirror as an early warning system to constantly monitor what is going on behind me in order to spot just the kind of situation you describe and have time to take appropriate action such as taking the lane. I know that legally we have a right to the lane all the time, but as a courtesy I use the shoulder or parking lane if they are in good shape so as not to slow traffic.
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Old 08-28-01, 01:11 PM
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I much prefer having a mirror. It saves me from looking over my shoulder when I'm not going to move over. Or, it saves me from looking when I can tell in the mirror that there is traffic.

I prefer handlebar mounts. This seems to be a strong personal thing, so anyone thinking of trying a mirror should go with their instincts.

Jonathan
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Old 08-28-01, 02:50 PM
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Chris L
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I used to have a mirror, but believe it or not, I didn't find it that helpful. It was a handle-bar mounted one, but it always seemed to be adjusted and never quite highlighted the area I wanted to see. I used to just look over my shoulder anyway, and let my ears tell me if there's a big truck behind me our something.

The mirror broke off a while ago, and I haven't bothered to replace it since.

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Old 08-28-01, 04:39 PM
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I always use a glasses mounted mirror. I break off the mounting part and tape the main shaft to my glasses with electrical tape. This leaves just the one ball joint to adjust that holds the mirror. This keeps the mirror from moving around too much. It helps me relate to traffic much better and also see if a car or cyclists is seaking up on me. I really have had more problems with stupid cyclists than I have motorists. Now that I am riding fairly fast the passing cyclists problem has all but vanished! hehehhe dont let me get away with that one!! *LOL*

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