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VeloNews: The Science of Being Seen... Now What?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

VeloNews: The Science of Being Seen... Now What?

Old 10-24-18, 07:02 AM
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Zaskar
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VeloNews: The Science of Being Seen... Now What?

VeloNews recently published a good article on the science of being seen. The link is below. But, the punchline is:
- Lights are very important during the day too
- Flashing lights are much better than steady
- Irregular flashing is better than not

And the one that got me thinking...
- Biomotion is a big, under-leveraged area for lights for cyclists.

I've been doing most of the stuff right - high-vis kit, 850 lumen headlight, 50 lumen taillight... during the day - same lights with the headlight on strobe mode. Now I'm thinking I should consider something on my shoes/pedals... some 50ish lumen blinky. But, I don't want to become "that guy" - all decked out in strobes, reflectors, and dayglow... but the research makes it clear - the movement (lower legs for us) is by far the most effective. Humans are hunters - our eyes catch movement.

So... any recommendations for really nice, carbon, Ti ankle/lights?

https://www.velonews.com/2018/10/bik...ng-seen_472689
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Old 10-24-18, 07:27 AM
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tagaproject6
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"Our eyes catch movement" indeed. The ones that get you are those whose eyes are somewhere else.
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Old 10-24-18, 07:35 AM
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Just remember, as you travel down the rabbit hole of hi-viz and strobing lights-- roadside construction workers still get hit all the time, and they're in full reflective hi-viz, in marked construction zones.

I think in most cases of car vs. bike, it's not that the driver couldn't see the cyclist, it's that they didn't see the cyclist. I don't know how we could "undistract" them.

By the by, there was a study in Britain (I think) 3-4 years ago that showed bright shoes or a light clipped to the shoe was the most noticeable of all things a cyclist can do. A fluorescent windbreaker made virtually no difference compared to a plain colored one.

So get a Blackburn 2Fer. Clip it to your traffic-side sock. 18 grams.
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Old 10-24-18, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Zaskar View Post
VeloNews recently published a good article on the science of being seen.
I stopped when I reached the part about sponsored content.
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Old 10-24-18, 08:30 AM
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Dan333SP
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But can it be done stylishly?
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Old 10-24-18, 08:35 AM
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It isn't that many motorists /don't see/, it's that many motorists /* don't LOOK */, and there is nothing you can do that will make them look. Simply, it's bad driving behaviour.

I think the best you can hope for is to capture the event in HD video.
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Old 10-24-18, 09:21 AM
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My wife got me one of these. I wear it on my ankle on my pre-dawn rides. Combined with reflective kit and front and rear lights it's probably overkill but why not. It weighs almost nothing and is fairly bright for night time use. Battery is good for about 8 hours but you can get a dozen on Amazon for about 8 bucks.

It's called slaplit or some such silly name.

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Old 10-24-18, 10:52 AM
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Reflective ankle bands are effective and dirt cheap.

https://www.nathansports.com/reflective-ankleband-pair


Originally Posted by Zaskar View Post
- Flashing lights are much better than steady
Running both flashing and steady are better than either.


-Tim-
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Old 10-24-18, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by tagaproject6 View Post
"Our eyes catch movement" indeed. The ones that get you are those whose eyes are somewhere else.
This is because motorists are like fish - they notice movement that is out of the ordinary: A bright yellow helmet bobbing above parked cars as they exit a driveway; a headlight or lamp that moves back and forth horizontally, etc. (This is why the third brake light was so effective on cars when they were first introduced. They were unusual, and caught your attention. But now everyone is used to them, and I'm pretty sure that their effectiveness has diminished over the last three decades.)

But back to bikes. This is my theory of being safe on city streets - With a headlamp on, I will look directly at cross-traffic and shake my head. Otherwise, your puny little light just gets lost among all the other light sources on the road. A shaking light will get noticed, and usually stumps them long enough as they try to figure out what you are, that you can get by them before they realize it and try to make that right turn. (The corollary to this is eye contact. If I don't see your head swivel in my direction, or we don't make definite eye contact, I'm assuming you don't see me.)

So, to me, it's not just movement, It has to be movement that is not where or what motorists expect to see. This is probably why the ankle things are helpful - a 20-inch moving circle a foot above the ground makes is noticeable. Something up at your shoulder can look like a headlight or a brake light on a car, or a street or house light, in the nanosecond that a motorist takes to check for traffic.

Edit: The article stresses "biomotion" - highlighting your body’s moving parts - which I think kind of supports what I'm saying. I just translate this to my handlebars, where a quick shimmie can frequently get their attention. Also, this article seems to be mainly about how to see approaching cyclists or overtaking them. I don't worry much about that on my streets. I'm more worried about cross-traffic or lane changes.

Last edited by Chinghis; 10-24-18 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 10-24-18, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP View Post
But can it be done stylishly?
thank you!
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Old 10-24-18, 12:50 PM
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I started putting a steady light clipped to my calf/ankle area, in addition t the flashing one on the seat post and the steady one on the back of my helmet...I guess I'm 'that guy'. Can't say one way or another if it's more effective. The last time I was hit from behind by an intoxicated driver in the early morning dark I was also wearing such a light along with the others. But it's probably better than none.
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Old 10-24-18, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Just remember, as you travel down the rabbit hole of hi-viz and strobing lights-- roadside construction workers still get hit all the time, and they're in full reflective hi-viz, in marked construction zones.
As do cops and ambulances parked with their lights on. It's called " moth effect".
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Old 10-24-18, 02:24 PM
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It sounds like there’s a lot of conflation going on in the replies, and perhaps even a desire for a “silver bullet” solution, but the fact is that the road is a complicated place, and drivers are working on many different levels, from being physically impaired to distracted, to highly attentive, and most often, somewhere in between. The best we can do as cyclists is never going to be enough to prevent every accident, but we can prevent some.

Many of the reported findings of the Trek/Clemson study are not new ideas— brighter lights and flashes are more conspicuous? Duh!— but their explanation of why biomotion works so well is kind of interesting: humans have increased perceptual sensitivity to human movement.

For many decades, the smart money has been on pedal reflectors, reflective ankle straps, and hi-viz shoes and socks as being highly perceptible because they immediately reveal motion allowing the identification of the source as a cyclist. That is to say, “biomotion” is easily identifiable and assimilated into understanding.

I know that I myself have often seen bright lights down the road but not been able to understand what I was seeing for some period of time, unable to determine the source, whether it was moving, it’s location on the road. Uncertainty like that leads to consideration of multiple possibilities and reduces predictability...in addition to taking time to process, thus delaying reaction.

For the study to say humans perceive humans more readily seems to suggest some initial “filtering” as well, perhaps even to the extent that equally bright and distant light sources are more likely to be perceived if one reveals biomotion. I think that’s fascinating and love to hear if that is the case, and to what extent, if at all, they looked at the impact of identifying the light source as a cyclist.

Anyway, I’d be delighted to have shoes with integrated, rechargeable LEDs, front and rear ones, please.

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Old 10-24-18, 03:04 PM
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I have a flashing armband, I actually got it issued when I was in the army. It's very bright.

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Old 10-24-18, 03:24 PM
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I have a Dinotte tail light and also a good headlight.
I think if a motorist doesn't see that they will not see me no matter what I have.
They just aren't looking.
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Old 10-24-18, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by popeye View Post
As do cops and ambulances parked with their lights on. It's called " moth effect".
maybe
https://www.visualexpert.com/Resources/motheffect.html
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Old 10-24-18, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post

"Flashing lights, such as hazard lights, caution lights on work vehicles, and emergencylights on police, fire, and ambulance vehicles all may contribute to longer approachingdriver fixations.Drivers tend to steer toward the direction of their gaze,
and longer fixations increase the probability of steering toward a roadside vehicle"

Another study
"The "moth effect" is a myth in one sense and reality in another. The idea that drivers may steer off the road when they fixate flashing lights is likely correct, but they are not drawn to the lights like moths to a flame. Rather, they inadvertently steer rightward, which may or may not take them into collision with the roadside vehicle. Even normal, alert drivers in daylight conditions may steer in the direction of eye position during periods of intense fixation, although factors reducing attentional capacity increase the probability. The cause is likely error in judging heading under eccentric fixation when optic flow cues are minimal and when attentional focus prevents sensing of the need to correct the error. Although bright lights and fascination are not required, of course, it is impossible to rule out these factors in some accidents."

You pays your money and you takes your chances. I miss out on sending the rider
behind me into convulsions from the strobe but oh well.

Last edited by popeye; 10-24-18 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 10-24-18, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Zaskar View Post
And the one that got me thinking...
- Biomotion is a big, under-leveraged area for lights for cyclists.
Originally Posted by tagaproject6 View Post
"Our eyes catch movement" indeed. The ones that get you are those whose eyes are somewhere else.
Can't find it now, but some study told the importance of continuing to pedal, and quickly, when going thru intersections. Not for speed, but rather to show motorists that you weren't slowing down or intending to turn or stop. IOW or as an example: you're heading toward an intersection and you have a green light. Keep pedaling with a good cadence, even if you're soft-pedaling. Motorists have a much different impression of a bicyclist's intent if their legs are moving furiously vs. the same bicyclist coasting with no pedaling, even if both are moving at the same speed. Coasting thru may lead to the motorist coming from the right may 'going for' that right turn on the red as you come into the intersection, incorrectly thinking they have the time to do so.
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Old 10-24-18, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP View Post
But can it be done stylishly?
Fortunately Style Man is still only a Bicycling Magazine thing...I hope.
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Old 10-24-18, 09:23 PM
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Trek is all concerned about bikers getting run over, yet they still make murdered out black bikes? Huh?
They can start by going back to natural stainless spokes, lighter colored plus some white bikes.
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Old 10-24-18, 11:06 PM
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Hi vis socks/shoes FTW.
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Old 10-24-18, 11:28 PM
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Best thing I've seen to enhance nighttime visibility is LED wheel lights especially viewed from the side where conventional head/tail lights are dramatically less visible to vehicles. Even from ahead or behind, spinning wheel lights are very noticeable, without being blindingly bright.

I was so impressed by what I saw other cyclists using around town and in casual group rides I got 'em for my hybrids' rear wheels. I'll add an LED light to my road bike's rear wheel when I can find one lightweight enough.

Beyond that, ditto hi-vis wherever the body moves -- shoes, socks, leg warmers, etc. Helmets to a lesser extent. Really pops when I see it on other cyclists at a distance in daylight. Static hi-vis, such as jerseys, may not pop out quite as effectively but it still doesn't hurt.
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Old 10-24-18, 11:38 PM
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Seems vehicles give some more room with this reflector on the left ankle. I use it in conjunction with good front & rear lights.


https://www.rei.com/product/543017/j...band-15-inches
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Old 10-24-18, 11:55 PM
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Flashing should always be over a steady illumination. On-Off is visually confusing, masking motion and distance. Ankle lights that flash mask the biomotion, defeating their purpose. Wheel lights and reflectors fall into the realm of biomotion, but very clearly communicate speed and direction.

The most compelling part of the research is the 30% reduction in collisions with a daytime light. Simply being seen at a distance is only assumed to have a benifit.
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Old 10-25-18, 06:57 AM
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In case push comes to shove and you're hit by a car and end up in court... being able to prove you were taking prudent safety precautions, obeying the law and even taking it one step further by demonstrating that you were using a helmet, daytime running lights, riding in the bike lane, would all work in your favor. Not to mention that it just makes good sense.
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