September 25, 2009 at 6:09 pm #3464jcwhiteParticipant
Here’s an observation, and a quesion. Everyone is in agreement that one of the most dangerous aspects of riding a motorcycle is not being seen by other road users. I was talking to one of my clients at one point – when he learned I had just gotten a bike – and he imparted a story. He rode most of his ‘career’ wearing a black jacket, and had someone cut him off (due to their not noticing him) at least once a month, if not every two weeks. A few years ago he got a one-piece high-vis jumpsuit, and apparently it almost never happens anymore. I’ve only been riding for a few months now – but I’ve never had someone not see me. I wear a bright high-vis yellow jacket and a bright yellow helmet. I’ve had people cut me off before, but I’ve always been quite sure they know I’m there as they do so (one guy made full eye contact before pulling out).
What sort of gear do you folks wear, and how often do people not see you?September 25, 2009 at 7:49 pm #22526briderdtParticipant
I was talking with a co-worker who also rides, and we were talking about traffic and such. I mentioned that, in some 11 months of riding, I haven’t even had a close call. His response: Well, you ride a bright yellow bike and carry a flame orange backpack.September 25, 2009 at 8:42 pm #22527eonParticipant
I have no facts to back this up but it stands to reason you are more visible wearing retina burning outfits over black leather. The observations above seem to confirm this. Bright or white helmets are regarded as being an important aid to being seen. Something to do with being the highest point on you.
Be careful over the eye contact thing. Common advice is to ignore it. People can look straight at you but are in fact looking past you. You think they have seen you, you relax your guard and then bang, “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you” (google smidsy). Part of the problem is you have a small horizontal profile and you are moving directly towards them so you are not moving across their horizontal field of view. Our eyes&brain are wired to pick up movement so they literally do not see you despite looking straight at you. A quick weave in your lane can help them see you as you are now moving across their horizontal field of view. I read somewhere that advanced car driving classes have you roll forward at an intersection to force this movement.
Also, camouflage works by breaking up the outline of an object so you want an anti-camouflage jacket. In some ways a black leather jacket would be better on a sunny day than a jacket with many colors and stripes.
Lots of things to consider. I’m all for being more visible but at the end of the day you should still ride as if you are invisible.September 25, 2009 at 10:43 pm #22532eternal05Participant
Hi-vis clothing is great, but you always have to ride like nobody sees you. Do everything you can to be seen (but NOT distracting), but at the end of the day, you will get ignored when it counts most. Be ready to react, and try to anticipate the worst things that any driver in your vicinity (i.e. within range of you in the next 3 seconds) might do and prepare an escape plan.September 26, 2009 at 2:49 am #22529RabParticipant
Clothing? Yes, Hi-Viz is good if a little “Mr. Safety” looking. Personally, I’m past caring if I look “cool” or not and have one of these for Winter commuting:
I did detect a snicker once from a Harley rider who works with me, but better to look stupid than dead I reckon; others apparently disagree with me on that one though.
On my last bike I had a headlamp modulator on my main beam and that really used to do a great job when lane-splitting. Many cars (probably initially thinking I was a cop) would make a wide-berth for me when they saw me coming. It was like Moses parting the Red Sea Woe betide any motorcyclist lane-splitting in the next lane though!!
BTW: If you’re going to lane-split (legal or not), please do so in the leftmost lane (in LHD countries); it’s much safer for all concerned (as much as lane-splitting is ever “safe”).
That said though, I eventually took the headlamp flasher off as on more than a couple of occasions, I had the distinct impression that people would pull out in front of me as they thought I’d signalled to them to come out (even though it would be flashing constantly, multiple times a second). On the other hand, maybe they were just plonkers. Whatever !
I had one of these (below) on my last bike too. It seems to work well and being separate from your stop light should be legal anywhere I would have thought:
How you position yourself in the lane can also help greatly with visibility and never ride 9 feet behind a van or truck (or any vehicle come to that) like I see so many doing. For one thing, no-one can see you and for another, you can’t see anything of what’s happening on the road in front of the van or truck. In my newbie days, I came within inches of a rear-end collision on a number of occasions when the van in front suddenly stomped on the brakes.
I just never saw it coming.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say for now.September 27, 2009 at 12:37 am #22541SpoolParticipant
Here’s an interesting article on “being seen” or not, a lot of interesting info in it.September 27, 2009 at 12:48 am #22542
yup…. a lot of riders I know in the cruiser world know of this type idea and have known for a long time. Some even go further by off setting the lights to stray from the “known” patterns to get the brain to focus on it trying to figure out what the heck makes that light pattern. For example the same 4″ running lights on the highway bars much lower. I have also seen a new after market deal that has running/signal/brake light combo that has the illumination just above the side mirrors.September 27, 2009 at 3:34 am #22543zgotzillaParticipant
Very important subject. With the advent of helmet lights (LEDs activated by motion) it would be interesting to see if someone could create a string of these and tie them to handlebars to create a bit more unusual illumination to draw attention to a cycle.September 27, 2009 at 3:44 am #22545
With that as Sangria and others have found out you have to be careful with Local laws. It would be considered a forward facing light and the candle watt, color would be severely limited.September 30, 2009 at 3:47 pm #22607rbParticipant
I wear all black (helmet, smoke visor, jacket, gloves, pants) and have only had one incident, however, I always position myself where I can be seen especially in intersections. The one person that did pull out on me simply didn’t look at all. I could have been driving a dump truck and they still wouldn’t have seen me.
I am of the opinion that the “I didn’t seem them” excuse is complete BS. It’s an excuse for simply not looking when they should have or not waiting until there was sufficient clearance to pull out or turn. People turn left/pull out in front of other full sized cars and trucks all of the time and use the same exact excuse. Then you have the super aggressive drivers that just don’t care. They will cut you off on purpose just so they can get to work 5 seconds faster. I believe if people were being completely honest, the reasons for accidents would be more along the lines of “I didn’t look before I pulled out” or “I thought I could squeeze through but didn’t make it” or “I’m attempting a new land speed record from my house to work and really don’t care about anyone else on the road.”
All of that being said, if you feel safer in fluorescent green and yellow then more power to you. I have seen many recommendations on this but I have never seen a study that proves wearing brightly colored clothing reduces your risk of an accident. I have also wondered if individuals that choose to wear brightly colored clothing are generally more safety conscious riders overall and are therefore less likely to be involved in an accident.
Edit: I don’t ride at night so that would be a different story all together and something I didn’t take into account.September 30, 2009 at 7:52 pm #22611
Eh I ride at night…. fluoro’s, hi viz does you no good in the dark. Everything I own….mostly black has reflective piping on it.October 1, 2009 at 3:14 am #22614owlieParticipant
I’m just not buyin’ that the Hawaiian shirt on a guy riding a bike in Florida is going to turn that many heads. Now, a skilled rider in a Hawaiian shirt with a cute little dog on the back of his ride, I can buy that.October 3, 2009 at 5:52 pm #22662
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