Saturday, September 11, 2010

Night Vision

After returning back from America I have started commuting again and intend to cycle as many days as I can during the winter.
However with dark mornings and nights, to accompany worsening weather conditions the risk through cycling increases dramatically.
During the summer drivers would expect to see cyclists on warm sunny days,but not around a bend in pitch black at six o clock in the morning in November !!!!!
It is a known fact that most accidents involving vehicles happen when the owner is within a mile of home. This is mainly because they know the area so well that they relax, subconsciously lowering their level of concentration.

For commuter drivers this is even worse.
Completing the same journey each day, drivers are often in auto pilot, knowing each bend, landmark and the exact times they arrive at certain points on their respective journeys.

If commuter drivers are delayed by natures forces ie: iced up windows and roads, condensation through damp weather it does not mean that their concentration level will increase.
It is often the opposite. They may become frustrated at the delay and often take risks to claw back time lost. They are even prepared to drive for a short time with limited visibility.
If a driver is trying to peer through a frosted porthole in the middle of his windscreen, whilst drinking coffee, sending messages on a blackberry and adjusting attire, the increased risk to cyclists tenfold.
As drivers become less aware of the presence of cyclists during the winter months, moaning about it does not keep you safe.
As I arrived at work the other morning I was greeted by chuckles at my illuminated arrival.
I currently have a fluorescent jacket, fluorescent rucksack, lights to front and read of helmet, lights to front of bike, rear lights on ruck sack and rear lights on back of bike.
The comments I received filled me with great satisfaction. 'You look like a Christmas Tree', 'They would certainly see you coming' ..........Its exactly what I wanted to hear.
A lot of truckers get very bad press from cyclists, not from me.
Generally they are professional drivers and without the ability to hold a Licence they can not earn a living. Although they may see cyclist as a hindrance to their urban progress, I genuinely believe that most are respectful and considerate.
The same can not always be said about cyclists in how they interact with such vehicles.
I think this is mainly due to ignorance and lack of perspective.
I have attached a film clip which may help.



Be safe out there

4 comments:

Steve A said...

Agree completely about the truckers. Some may well see cyclists as a hindrance, but even they are quick to spot one that rides well and safely, and behave especially considerately around them.

Just don't count on all that reflective kit to do more than make you feel better; instead trust to where and how you ride as your first line of defense.

John Romeo Alpha said...

The diagrams of the varied blind spots of different configurations of truck are excellent accompaniment for your point about cyclists attitudes: how many times do cyclists blame drivers when the cyclists themselves are in a spot where they can't possibly be seen? As pointed out in the video, making some kind of contact, connection, or communication with drivers, even a glance to establish an interim agreement, is key. Also I like the idea of ride-alongs to see what it's like from the other guy's POV.

Big Oak said...

I like all those lights. Be safe out there!

Red Bike said...

Great idea on the backpak / christmas lights.

I've found that putting a rear light on the back of my helmet / rucksack helps make me significantly more visable.