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Touring Road Safety

Old 12-10-06, 02:42 PM
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Touring Road Safety

What kind of reflective materials are people using on their bikes, and where can I get them? Got Pictures of them in use?

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Old 12-10-06, 05:04 PM
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I have these on the wheel stays: 3M reflective strips e.g. https://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FREF

However, drivers expect passive reflectors on bikes, so I now run a ( very ) active safety system: a Dinotte 3W tail-light in flash/strobe mode, even during daylight.DiNotte_Lighting_Ultra_Tail_Light

Nothing else has had such a noticeable effect on drivers behaviour :-)
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Old 12-10-06, 05:09 PM
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My Schwalbe tyres have reflective whitewalls, my MEC jacket has Scotchlite reflective

strips,

my helmet has a head and tail light, my Arkel panniers have reflective material all over. Motorists stop at traffic lights to tell me how well they can see me.
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Old 12-11-06, 02:05 AM
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Here is a photo of our reflective triangles. I also wear an orange reflective vest...the kind roadworkers use.
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Old 12-11-06, 07:31 AM
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In addition to pannier-attached reflective panels, (Ortlieb red fronts & Karrimor purple rears & bar bag: all non-black), I used a Vistalite rear LED in flashing mode (I always use it in normal mode here in England though!). Clothing: I didn't have anything specifically fluorescent for above-the-waist wear but my leggings (actually Ron Hill Tracksters) had reflective & fluorescent features, usually worn late on in the day. Waterproof jacket (Montane Air) has small reflective dots on it and got a reasonable colour (red-ish) that prevents me blending in with the trees & roadway I got some 3M reflective adhesive tape (red) and attached strips to the rear of my Bell Image helmet some years ago and they are fine. When I got the bike (new from Silverdale Cyclery, WA) it came with pedal reflectors (one came off during the trip). I also used to stuff the leggings into the Delta Cargo Net II on the rear rack so the fluorescent panels were visible as extra. I survived the PCH in May, often riding at night
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Old 12-11-06, 07:52 AM
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For day, wear as much blaze orange as possible. Reflective tape and the yellow/gold color is not effective. IMHO, lights work only in the sunshine if they are very bright (expensive) and angled to hit dirivers square in the retinas.

For night - if you are forced to ride at night - you must have good lights front (white) and rear (red) - as many as possible and blinking as much as possible. These are also useful on rainy days, inside tunnnels, and even in the deep shade on sunning days. The only reflective tape worth a damn is the 3M silver reflective tape - the kind firemen use. It is very expensive, but obviously worth it if it saves your life. The best place for tape is on your ankles.
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Old 12-11-06, 09:12 AM
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In normal traffic bikes are really pretty visible. At night, unlit bikes are almost completely invisible. A lot of really bright colours and stuff, in accordance with the art of allowing, are really just asking to be hit. People drive towards what they see in their primary vision and avoid what they have in the secondary vision. I wear black during the day if it's bright enough, and temp allowing.

I don't like touring at night under most conditions because I really don't feel I can see the ground well enough to react, unless the road is great or urban. I agree with all the stuff about what reflects well and what lights to have on. You can get nice little metal caps for schrader valves at Walmart with LEDs in them, don't seem to shake up the wheels or anything. The way you are most likely to be killed is if you don't have enough forward lighting and you get t-boned by a car at an intersection (assuming there are any). Getting hit from behind on a clear night, with any lights or reflectors at work, is an incredible longshot.
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Old 12-11-06, 09:54 AM
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[QUOTE=Peterpan1]In normal traffic bikes are really pretty visible. At night, unlit bikes are almost completely invisible. A lot of really bright colours and stuff, in accordance with the art of allowing, are really just asking to be hit. People drive towards what they see in their primary vision and avoid what they have in the secondary vision. I wear black during the day if it's bright enough, and temp allowing.
QUOTE]

I really have to disagree with this. The more bright colors you wear, especially higher on your body, the better. Car drivers are looking for other cars, and bikes are just small. The more visible you are the better.

I got hit wearing all black, at noon on a bright sunny day, riding my fully loaded (4 panniers) bike with a bright red 1 1/2 foot long stuff sack on the back. The whole rig was almost as big as motorcycle. The driver didn't see me. (I don't wear all black any more.)

My friend got hit by a cop last weekend, the cop didn't see her. She was wearing our club kit (which I refuse to wear), which is dark blue.

Just for giggles, when you are riding with your friends some time, drop back and look at them from a few hundred feet away. Who can you see? The person in black / dark blue? The person in that ugly viz yellow vest? The sky-blue jacket? What if there are trees on the side of the road, do they blend in? I hate wearing bright colors, but I do it anyway on the bike.

For daytime riding, bright colored tops - yellow, orange, red, hot pink - are the most visible. Pay extra attention to your cold-weather/wet-weather gear. The visibility will be much reduced if it's raining, foggy or overcast, so you need to really do the best you can for those conditions. For night, you need reflective materials and lights.

I've never before heard of primary and secondary vision. What does that mean? What is the "art of allowing"?

No disrespect intended, just strong disagreement.
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Old 12-11-06, 10:16 AM
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Even with blinkies and headlights, you can never have enough reflective material.
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Old 12-11-06, 10:54 AM
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I bought a bag of "conspicuity tape" from a NAPA auto parts store and cut it up to put on my bikes. This is the stuff that they put on big trucks and trailers, it's very durable and reflects extremely well. I put the silver on my crank arms and on the rims between the spokes. I cut the red into long thin strips and wrapped them barber pole style around the rack tubing.

I also use a Busch & Mueller halogen headlight powered by a Shimano hub generator and a Petzl Tikka XP headlamp for headlights, and a Cateye TL-1000 taillight with a Planet Bike Superflash blinkie on the back of my helmet. After all that, someone ran a stop sign and almost clobbered me a few nights ago. His excuse was "I really didn't see you". I asked him to please open his eyes.
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Old 12-11-06, 11:58 AM
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Valygrl is irrefutably correct. As a driver of an 18 wheeler in dense urban environs, day and night, I say there is no substitue for bright clothing, reflective tape, and lights that blink - not solid. I believe that humans use the same visual tools for driving and hunting, and we are the best hunters in exisitance. Most of that skill involves spotting movement - the flicker of an ear or tail, the turn of the head, or lifting of a hoof.

In motor traffic, everything often flows the same way so we get visually complacent and develope tunnel-vision. The brain actually shuts down the peripheral vision somewhat, and we tend to let the traffic signals do our driving for us. Also, drivers are distracted by music, cell phone, or whatever else.

Wearing black, dark blue, or any of the natural hues is baiting the bull. Red is ok in daylight, but is one of the first colors to gray-out at dusk or at night. My advice is to select colors that are not found in nature. Those being: blaze orange, that lime-type green, or bright warning yellow as a last choice. Any reflective sew-ins or stripping is good.

Headlights are most visable as a bicycle if they flash, but not flicker too fast. Why? Because they can appear to be a flickering reflection off a wet street or large puddle, appearing as a distant light off a business or far off car. Set 'em to flash!

Everyone knows about red bilnkies - they work well, but should be angled ever so slightly up, say, 1 or 2 degrees. Check your batteries often.

3M or DOT (truck/trailer) tape rules. White reflects more light back to it's source than any other color at night. But, yellow reflects almost as much and has the added benefit of working better in daylight than white.
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Old 12-11-06, 01:03 PM
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Valygrl and Jcm make a lot of sense, I may start running my Petzl in flash mode. I have heard reports that it's harder to gauge the distance of a flashing light than a steady light, anyone know anything about this? I've also heard stories that drunk drivers will home in on a flashing light more than they will a steady light. Anyone heard about this?
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Old 12-11-06, 01:33 PM
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Yeah, I've heard that about the flashing lights too.

I try really hard not to ride at night, it's just too scary.
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Old 12-11-06, 02:01 PM
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I cycle home from work after dark every night, I've gotten pretty comfortable with it. I'm lucky enough to live in a fairly low crime area, and the police are really hard on drunk drivers so I'm not too worried about that. I don't think it's possible for a drunk driver to go more than a mile in this county without being stopped by a cop.
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Old 12-11-06, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
Yeah, I've heard that about the flashing lights too.

I try really hard not to ride at night, it's just too scary.
I disagree with that. At this time of year, a lot of my riding is done at night simply to avoid the heat. I have, in fact, ridden literally all night on occasions. People start drinking as soon as the bottle shop opens in this city, so a goodly number of them are going to be drunk in the middle of the day. The police don't seem to care if they drive drunk, and even if they did, the judges here are notoriously forgiving to drunks for some reason.

The only difference at night is that there will be fewer of them around (which may or may not be a good thing -- I'm still undecided on that one). With some lights and a decent reflective vest, visibility won't be a problem. The 5-LED tail lights available these days are pretty bright, and visible from a good distance. If I'm worried about an inordinate number of drunks on the road I'll simply use the light on constant mode. Also I spent the dollars last year to acquire an E6 headlight powered by a Schmidt hub dynamo, which has been mistaken for a car headlight by many who have seen it. Apart from that, I rely on my own ability to spot trouble (some might call it cynicism) which has got me out of trouble more times than anything else.
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Old 12-11-06, 03:16 PM
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DavidRay,
I do not claim to have any real expertise riding at night but thought I could add a different perspective.

Around home I don't ride at night. On tour I do not ride in the evening after dark, ever. But, I do begin riding early before sunrise. I always wear either a HiVis yellow or all white shirt. I do not have lights on my bike and I have removed all of the reflectors that the government says have to be on there when you buy it.

Only twice have I tried to ride when it was really dark in the morning. Both times there was a full moon, I was on a lonely southwestern U.S. highway, and I stopped and pulled off the road if a car approached. The riding experience was very interesting. I read a comment by Machka about her sensations in the dark on big hills and I had much the same experience. Going up the big hills was okay, just follow the white line. Going down was a different story. The white line was not visible far enough in front of me to feel like enjoying the downhills as we all usually do. I went downhill about the same pace as I did the uphills. Since I couldn't see what the next few miles looked like it was hard to pace myself. In both instances I was glad when the sky became light and the day began.

If I were to make a practice of riding at night I would have to get some lights for sure. But since I have the option when on tour, those are things that I am not adding to my stuff.
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Old 12-11-06, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by markf
Valygrl and Jcm make a lot of sense, I may start running my Petzl in flash mode. I have heard reports that it's harder to gauge the distance of a flashing light than a steady light, anyone know anything about this? I've also heard stories that drunk drivers will home in on a flashing light more than they will a steady light. Anyone heard about this?
Run it in flash mode. A steady light is harder to gage for motion AND distance. Ever gone fishing on a large body of water before first light? You cannot tell the distance of solid nav lights for diddley-squat. You have to concentrate to do this. At the wheel, we don't have the time luxury. Flash 'em, but don't flicker. A flashing light provides a dotted line to the source. A solid is just like a million other lights out there.

On the subject of drunks, and other non-drunks, homing in on lights. Yes, it's a fact. I used to be a volunteer firefighter for four years. Lots of traffic accidents at night. We got extensive training about that very subject. People do fixate on lights, flashing or not - even emergency vehicles get hit. It's rare, but it happens.
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Old 12-11-06, 04:05 PM
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Chris, I think you are right to suggest that there are a lot of local factors at play. Law enforcement and nature of roads. Like is there a proper space on the road. Obviously if a rider is riding in the space vehicles normally use then it would help if the V. see him before they hit him.

On the other hand, if you are off the road, but the cars are still zipping past you, often the cyclist is worried unreasonably about the cars. It's as if the cars are being reduced in lane size by a bunch of construction markers. Does the motorist look at the signs or fix a bead on the center of the road ahead and by driving down the center miss all the signs? What the motorist looks at is where he is going, and the eye always focuses on the area of highest light. So good luck. The thing is when there is no problem the motorists all go way over, out of your way, but if they top a rise and you are on one side and a humongous truck is on the other, what happens then they are really emotionally invested on avoiding both sides, you have the most light, they are going to go for you. Be realistic if being visible was all that mattered they wouldn't ever hit a bright cyclist.

" really have to disagree with this. The more bright colors you wear, especially higher on your body, the better. Car drivers are looking for other cars, and bikes are just small. The more visible you are the better."

Valygrl, car drivers are not looking for other cars at all, they are plowing through their zone whipping past each other at 100mph or more. They do not miss only those cars that are fluorescent orange with flashing lights, those vehicles are trying to affect flow negatively. This is the environment you are trying to be a part of. There is an irrational fear of cars among cyclists as though drivers wanted nothing more than to hit something weighing 200 pounds with pointy bits and a good lawyer. Drivers are absolute masters at avoiding collisions, are naturally on the look-out for everything, that might hit their cars. It is a well known fact that within a short period of time the average driver develops a feel for his car as though it were and extension of his body.

OK, the art of allowing. That was somewhat in jest. There is a human potential theory that has some validity or observed application. The big idea is anything you wish for, absolutely anything, is instantly made available to you, but you can't pick it up until you are in alignment with it. The go with the flow thing. The paradox is that if you say I don't want to be hit by a car you are sending out the right request, but focusing on the car hit thing, so you are out of alignment with the delivery of the result you want, and you are fighting going with the flow. This results in getting hit by a car. How is it that you would be not in the flow with it? Well a person who had acheived the desired state would not be thinking about the bad stuff. Thinking about the bad stuff and attracting the bad stuff are the same resonance. Making yourself a multi light billboard of fear is like damming the river.

I have no idea whether this is in any way true, right through to absolutely true and manipulable. But haven't we all seen it? Say for example the a large country decides there were 20 terrorist who were a problem and focuses all it's energy on getting rid of all terrorist (or drugs, imigrants, whatever). Maybe this brings a flood of the stuff being resisted. Not a policy judgment, a flow issue (allegedly). It's the Robert Duvall Character in Apocalypse. Does he say I hope "I never get hit". No he says he loves the smell of napalm, he is in alignment with his war god, and the bombs fall everywhere else but on him. So it's a mater of being part of the flow or being the most out of touch, afraid, demonstrably fighting the current object out there. How many people go out on a cycling tour thinking of nothing other than being hit by the car coming up behind them. What a huge efort to keep going against the flow for a transcontinental.

Or Jim Fixx dies of a heart attack, or the leading safety expert for the ride across the US gets hit by a cop and killed.

That would be the theory...

All examples are reflexive and unresearched, and do not apply to the real people.

Last edited by NoReg; 12-11-06 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 12-11-06, 08:12 PM
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If you have fenders on your bike, go to Pep Boys and buy some reflective tape to put on it. When I come down my stairs at night, with no lights on, I can see the reflection of the streetlight coming in the window and striking the tape.
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Old 12-11-06, 08:49 PM
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OOPs someone asked about periferal vision. Most of my stuff is years out of date on that. But in the good old days periferal vision (non-bino) was where one picked up motion. So one fighter pilot/top fisherman guy I met used to scan the water for prey , looking for signs of movement in p. vision and then one would target with bino vision. Where you direct bino vision is where you go. So if you have a tight fit on the road, between the guy passing you and the opposing traffic, if he looks at you he will tend to move towards you, but he can also see you in his p. vision.

Obviously all kinds of things can happen he can consciously see you at a great distance, never really see you. Mostly you are relying on unconscious behaviour. Like driving a car at night when one is hurtling along at great speed without ability to see very far. With oncoming trafic sometimes hardly seeing beyond the hood of the car. You're just trusting it is all going to turn out OK.
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Old 12-11-06, 08:55 PM
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Looking an I think the best idea from what I see if have one of those reflective triangles on the rack and yellow AND white tape on the sides, red and yellow tape on the back rack and where the wheel mounts.
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Old 12-12-06, 03:22 AM
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Here we are getting ready to cycle out of the train station in Bangkok at 4:00am.

I wear the reflective vest every day here in Southeast Asia. I believe it gives us a greater amount of respect from the drivers as the police wear a similar style.

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Old 12-12-06, 07:49 AM
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No matter how many lights, bright colors or reflectors you have, "ride like you are invisible". That simply means assume that drivers are not going to see you, and be proactive to prevent becoming a statistic.
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Old 12-12-06, 09:48 AM
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My bike has reflective sidewalls, and I use blinky lights on the front and back. I believe my panniers, and the occasional jacket, also have reflective materials. I also don't ride much at night on tour.

I agree that bright colors and reflective triangles will make you much more obvious, but I'm not too worried about it. I use a white helmet and wear reasonably visible clothing, and that seems to do the trick. I just don't think you have to look like a Christmas tree to be safe on the roads.
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Old 12-18-06, 07:05 AM
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I got some grey tape,I dont think it is doing the job
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