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Nighttime visibility concern - please help troubleshoot

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Nighttime visibility concern - please help troubleshoot

Old 12-05-17, 10:48 PM
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rachel120
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Nighttime visibility concern - please help troubleshoot

Riding home tonight, I was stopped at a red light and a guy pulled up in the lane next to me. He said "I didn't see you." Whoa, scary, I called back "Is my light not working?" He said, "It's working but I didn't see you, I almost ran into you." (Weird, since no set of headlights got that close in my mirror.)

At the first place I could stop, I started checking everything. My rear blinky light was indeed blinking brightly. My rear helmet light was blinking brightly. I checked my backpack, the reflective strips were still attached. Since my bike light is equal lumens to a car's low beams I held my backpack in front of it. The reflective strips dazzled like a disco ball and the orange strips for day time also were attention grabbing. Since I'm short and my seat is low, I went back about 8 feet, then looked at the back of my bike. The light was clearly visible when I was standing straight, no bending at all, my eyes about 2 feet above the light.

Near home I take a shortcut across a sidewalk and it has a bit of a hump to it. So I left my bike in a low area and checked the rear light visibility about 20 feet away with my eyes 3-4 feet above the light, still clearly visible.

So what is it I'm missing? Why wouldn't I be visible to traffic from behind?
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Old 12-06-17, 12:23 AM
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The error is on the driver, not you.
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Old 12-06-17, 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
Riding home tonight, I was stopped at a red light and a guy pulled up in the lane next to me. He said "I didn't see you." Whoa, scary, I called back "Is my light not working?" He said, "It's working but I didn't see you, I almost ran into you." (Weird, since no set of headlights got that close in my mirror.)

At the first place I could stop, I started checking everything. My rear blinky light was indeed blinking brightly. My rear helmet light was blinking brightly. I checked my backpack, the reflective strips were still attached. Since my bike light is equal lumens to a car's low beams I held my backpack in front of it. The reflective strips dazzled like a disco ball and the orange strips for day time also were attention grabbing. Since I'm short and my seat is low, I went back about 8 feet, then looked at the back of my bike. The light was clearly visible when I was standing straight, no bending at all, my eyes about 2 feet above the light.

Near home I take a shortcut across a sidewalk and it has a bit of a hump to it. So I left my bike in a low area and checked the rear light visibility about 20 feet away with my eyes 3-4 feet above the light, still clearly visible.

So what is it I'm missing? Why wouldn't I be visible to traffic from behind?
That sounds like the driver wasn't paying attention.
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Old 12-06-17, 03:12 AM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
The error is on the driver, not you.
This.

People don't learn to look for things that are outside their expectations. This is why they run into reasonably visible stationary objects all the time.

Seems like every few months we have someone plow right into a cow at speed on a straight section of road with mile-plus sight lines because their brain basically said "cows don't go in the road so that one must not really be there." I can sort of understand it at night with Angus on fresh asphalt, since the eyes are the only thing that shows up well, (last time I rolled up on that, I didn't figure out what it was until maybe 50 yards away, but I'd spotted something shiny well before that and slowed down to ~30mph) but I've seen the aftermath of a pure white Charolais hit in broad daylight in a spot where it would have been fully visible from the top of a hill a half mile back.
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Old 12-06-17, 05:33 AM
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Have a friend drive up behind you and report back. Better yet, have 'em run video. It sounds to me like you have the visibility thing covered.
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Old 12-06-17, 05:50 AM
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It isn't just cyclists that drivers don't see
Drivers keep hitting large rock in suburban Calgary parking lot - Calgary - CBC News
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Old 12-06-17, 06:33 AM
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Since you had two rear lights and assorted reflective materials is it possible the driver was being sarcastic with his comment?
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Old 12-06-17, 07:18 AM
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Is this a regular occurrence? If this happened more than once then I'd be worried. If this is an isolated incident, then it's probably the driver being distracted and not paying his full attention to the traffic.
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Old 12-06-17, 07:21 AM
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is it possible the driver was being sarcastic
hard to tell from here..



I wear a Parka with broad reflective stripes , safety gear not bike clothing, + dynohub lights.




.....
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Old 12-06-17, 07:39 AM
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He said "I didn't see you." Whoa, scary, I called back "Is my light not working?" He said, "It's working but I didn't see you, I almost ran into you."

Your next line should have been, "If you can't see me, perhaps you should hand over your keys and call some one to come pick you up...I suggest the police, because either your eyesight is too poor for driving at night, or you are in some way impaired....oh, by the way, you are on helmet cam."

Kudos on the rear helmet and bike lights and the reflective strips on the backpack...that's how I roll (plus a reflective strip on my bikes with fenders).
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Old 12-06-17, 07:57 AM
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Classic SMIDSY (aka Sorry mate I didn't see you) - usually used in the aftermath of a collision. No real cure, I'm afraid.
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Old 12-06-17, 12:40 PM
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Thank you everyone, I never even thought about it being driver distraction.

@KD5NRH A cow? Wow, that is waaaay not paying attention to the road ahead of you.

@AlmostTrick I'm going to do that, that's a good tip.

@alcjphil Seeing how that rock is in the median, I'm not sure if not seeing the cow or driving over both rock and median is the more outrageous example of being blind to your surroundings.

@prathmann Maybe he was. I've been on FMLA and yesterday was my first day back to work and I was tired, so I didn't even think of that possibility.

@mcours2006 He's the only one who has ever said that.

@BobbyG Yeah, I wish I had thought of that retort. I'll save that if it ever happens again.
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Old 12-06-17, 01:07 PM
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The author of "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)" has several stories about inattention blindness... including classic tales of drivers plowing right into large garbage trucks in broad daylight, and police cars with full emergency lighting turned on.

The fact is, all too often, drivers are not paying attention, drive too fast for the conditions, and tend to apply power when they should be slowing down and evaluating.

No doubt rachel120, you were quite visible, had the driver actually been looking, rather than simply staring out the window.
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Old 12-06-17, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
https://www.google.com/maps/@32.2252...7i13312!8i6656

Used to be a similar sized rock, painted bright yellow and with several reflectors epoxied to it, protecting the guy wires on that pole. I lived across the street from it for a while, and it was common to watch a car being dragged off the rock after hitting it fast enough to be almost centered on it. Guess the new owner of the complex decided to go to the lower concrete block.
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Old 12-06-17, 10:06 PM
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You might want to consider wearing reflective ankle bands. They add movement to your array of lights. I always wear a pair on my nighttime commute. I also just purchased and started wearing a NoxGear Tracer 360 illuminated harness. Saw someone wearing one while out walking her dog at night and was gobsmacked by its visibility.
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Old 12-07-17, 03:52 PM
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It's amazing what drivers don't see:
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Old 12-07-17, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by dh024 View Post
It's amazing what drivers don't see:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDnIsY8Tkj4
No words.

The sad part is that I have seen a couple of other videos where an accident happened the same way as this guy was saying - they were looking at the cop car and not the road ahead.
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Old 12-07-17, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Jerrys88 View Post
You might want to consider wearing reflective ankle bands. They add movement to your array of lights. I always wear a pair on my nighttime commute. I also just purchased and started wearing a NoxGear Tracer 360 illuminated harness. Saw someone wearing one while out walking her dog at night and was gobsmacked by its visibility.
+1 I used to take this a step further. I wore an active light on my ankle for a couple of decades (until my bony body said "enough!"). It was very obvious that it registered with drivers. It worked when drivers didn't even know what a night ridden bicycle was. (You laugh but the late '60s around Boston was a very different era.) It still works better than any flasher because 1) the motion is unlike anything anyone sees anywhere else and 2) it is a steady light, so the ability to judge the distance and closing speed is there.

Ben
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Old 12-07-17, 07:51 PM
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I like the light on the ankle idea too and have worn it on a few occasions. I don't have a 'proper' mount for that particular location so I use an old iPod arm band and a cheap $5 tail light taped with clear tape on it.

The other problem is that when I'm using panniers that light becomes all but useless as the bags block it from behind.
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Old 12-07-17, 08:10 PM
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I'll look into the ankle lights. There's two more things I've been putting off since I have a beer budget, not a champagne budget, spoke lights and some kind of reflective bands for my left arm. About six weeks ago I realized while signaling a right turn that at 11:30 at night no one could see me signaling.
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Old 12-07-17, 08:24 PM
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when I hear blinky I want to suggest a strobe. I've seen so many rear bike lights that are worthless. I use two rear strobes with one on the left drop bar. I think they really do the trick. the drop bar light has helped prevent cars from cutting back in front of me too early. it's a reminder I'm still there even tho they may have passed the rear strobe. if you're convinced your rear light is adequate, maybe adding a second will help. isn't it interesting that first responders such as ambulances & fire engines typically have more than one light

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Old 12-07-17, 08:56 PM
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I have given lights at night a lot of thought lately. I put my driver's hat on and started really paying attention to other cyclists when I'm in my car driving at dark. There's a cyclist who rides like the OP when I take my son to school in the early morning before light. As a cyclist I "see" the rider but as a motorist all I see is a small blinking red light and some reflective strips. Yes it's bright but it's small and if reality it doesn't stand out 'that' much. If there was something else to catch my eye and make me pay closer attention to the cyclist what could that be?

I'm thinking a bright blue flashing light with a red one would definitely make me take notice as a motorist. I'm currently looking for a bright flashing blue light for my bike. Once I find one I'm going to set both up on a post near my house and drive by with my car to see if it makes a difference. My guess is yes it will. The fact that police cars use blue and red flashing lights could make me a target (for bad guys) just as well as an avoidance (for good guys) has crossed my mind; however, I'm going to try it never the less. A green light may be just as effective without making me a target for the bad guys so I'm going to try that also.

I also think that red lights attached to each ankle going up and down would also make me take closer notice also.
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Old 12-07-17, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by drlogik View Post
I have given lights at night a lot of thought lately. I put my driver's hat on and started really paying attention to other cyclists when I'm in my car driving at dark. There's a cyclist who rides like the OP when I take my son to school in the early morning before light. As a cyclist I "see" the rider but as a motorist all I see is a small blinking red light and some reflective strips. Yes it's bright but it's small and if reality it doesn't stand out 'that' much. If there was something else to catch my eye and make me pay closer attention to the cyclist what could that be?

I'm thinking a bright blue flashing light with a red one would definitely make me take notice as a motorist. I'm currently looking for a bright flashing blue light for my bike. Once I find one I'm going to set both up on a post near my house and drive by with my car to see if it makes a difference. My guess is yes it will. The fact that police cars use blue and red flashing lights could make me a target (for bad guys) just as well as an avoidance (for good guys) has crossed my mind; however, I'm going to try it never the less. A green light may be just as effective without making me a target for the bad guys so I'm going to try that also.
Check state laws first. In this state a bicycle using a blue light is illegal.
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Old 12-07-17, 09:19 PM
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Check state laws first. In this state a bicycle using a blue light is illegal.
Yes, that's a concern as well, hence the green light idea. I don't want to beat a dead horse but think about a stopped school bus. Red flashing lights, the sign swung out, etc. Given all that how many times have you seen a car drive right past? I have, a number of times. Heck, I almost did it twice in my years of driving. Both times my mind was wondering off about something else and not paying 100% attention to the road. Whenever there is something odd, something different I almost always take a second or third look. That's what I'm after. Something that is different that makes a motorist look twice.
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Old 12-07-17, 09:53 PM
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Good luck figuring something out. I have two lights, one on my head which probably is pretty random in movements, and my backpack is covered in the below duct tapes, and apparently I still wasn't seen. Maybe I should install a pole and a disco ball.
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