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Old 06-14-2008, 12:06 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
2,657 posts, read 5,020,370 times
Reputation: 4183

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I posted this as part of a discussion on a state board, thought it might be handy to see in this forum

Bicycle Helmets and Visibility

Quote:
"Get Horizontal"

by B. Jan Hoffman

43% of all motorcycle accidents occur as a result of an oncoming vehicle turning across the path of a rider. Drivers simply fail to recognize the motorcyclist's right of way. Their typical lament is "I just didn't see him". You might lament "How the hell is that possible, you were looking right at me, you zoned-out space cadet!"

Some motorcyclists may feel that drivers deliberately choose not to see us. They feel that drivers resent us because of our agility, acceleration, or designer leathers. Others suspect that some car drivers must be anally retentive psychopaths who compensate for their fear of flying by driving to kill.

In the urban rain forests of LA or New York, that may be true. But elsewhere, most drivers really don't see motorcycles. Well yes, their eyes see us, but the image doesn't register in the brain. Why is that?

Some intelligent doctor types have postulated that the brain is an organ which rejects, rather than gathers information. They believe that if all the information collected by the senses were to register, the brain would experience sensory overload and blow its fuses.

For example, all the billboards, signs and other visual messages along the road can't possibly register in the brains of car drivers. That would cause sensory overload. To prevent that, the brain tends to organize the world into systems; those which are important to the activity at hand, and those which aren't. The car driver's brain has learned to exclude the non-essentials, and to focus only on those objects which are a threat to survival. On the road, those objects are predominantly other cars. Because cars are much wider than they are tall, the brain systematizes threats as objects characterized by horizontal lines.

Things characterized by vertical lines are eliminated from consciousness as non-threatening, extraneous information. Trees, lamp standards, sign posts, bridge abutments, buildings; none of these vertical objects are liable to jump out in front of the driver to threaten his existence.

Along comes a motorcycle. The driver's eyes give it a quick visual scan and the brain determines that this too is a vertical object. No threat. No further focus required. Zone out. Continue replay of last nights debauchery.
The next thing you know, the driver turns left across your lane even though you can see him looking right at you!

In my early days of riding, an experienced rider hammered at me ceaselessly with the message that "You are invisible out there!" All I heard him say was "Be careful". I didn't understand at the time that he was saying "To most car drivers, you are literally invisible."

Anyone with experience on a bike knows that he was right. Many a novice rider has departed the corporal world because he rode his bike the way he drove his car; as if he could actually be seen.

My advice is, if you don't want to be horizontal, look horizontal. How do we do that? One way is to use running lights. Many Japanese bikes have orange running lights up front integrated into the signal light housing. That gives some sense of horizontal perspective to car drivers. Some Harleys have a pair of white driving lights alongside of the headlight. That's more effective due to the increased candlepower.

I've often lamented the lack of stock running lights on unfaired airheads. A single headlight does not give a sense of perspective, and therefore tends to disappear into the background. I replaced the stock signal lights on the front of my Roadster with 4" round signal/running lights. They immediately and dramatically improved the etiquette of the other users of the road. Some Airheads have disparaged the aesthetics of my "police" lights. I find the impromptu installation of a Buick grill even less attractive.

I've also converted the rear signal lights to signal/running lights. As with the additional front lights, they made an immediate improvement in the etiquette of other road users.

I realized the importance of rear running lights when I was following a friend home from Barley Therapy one dark evening. To my surprise, rather than focusing on his GS tail light and spacing myself accordingly, I soon found myself gauging my distance from the rear end of the car ahead of him.
His pathetic little taillight simply dissolved into the brighter lights of the car, and his bike effectively disappeared.

If this can happen to me, you can be sure it will happen to car drivers, who are not attuned to motorcycles.

So, get horizontal. Convert your signal lights into signal/running lights. If you are going to apply reflective tape to your bike, jacket or helmet, make horizontal or diagonal lines rather than vertical ones.

Most of all, negotiate our streets and highways as if you are invisible.
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Old 06-14-2008, 01:58 AM
 
Location: Victoria, BC.
24,933 posts, read 18,513,598 times
Reputation: 9889
Yeah, I know very well what you mean. Even though I rode with the invisibility belief I still ended up crashing through the back window of a car that ran a stop sign. I was riding a Honda Interstate, light up like an xmas tree, made eye contact with her, or so I thought. She still didn't see me. No chance to stop or avoid her, so the best I could do was try and lay the bike down and take the hit with my wheels. I didn't quite make it, and ended up hanging out her back window.

At that point she panicked, hit the gas instead of the brake, and hit an oil tanker truck on the other side of the intersection, the whole time with me hanging out her back window. Of course when she hit the truck I kept going. My bike was totaled, as well as her car, and $2,000 damage done to the truck.

She was really shook up when she saw me on the pavement because she was worried that she had killed me...The first thing she said was "I didn't see you"

I was pretty bruised up, and a foot peg went completely through my leg between the bone and calf muscle....Do you know how big an Interstate foot peg is?
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Old 06-14-2008, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Nashville, TN
624 posts, read 2,850,816 times
Reputation: 331
It's because they don't LOOK. I see it all the time, most drivers just GLANCE at their surroundings and of course it's easy to see a larger car in that small time looking, but MUCH harder to see a smaller vehicle,bike, cycle. And after reading the article I will say that even though it might be normal for the brain to "tune out" certain things...there are really only a small amount of things important to watch for on the roads: the paved portions where vehicles might be, lights, and other cars...beyond that I don't buy the I didn't see them excuse. You look in the damn lane and if there is something there that will hit you or you'll hit, you don't pull out in front of it or into it! has been easy for me while driving for 20 years.
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Old 06-14-2008, 10:33 AM
 
Location: WA
4,066 posts, read 13,366,092 times
Reputation: 2949
I was seriously injured when a truck turned into my path. Unfortunately it is not going to change so I stopped riding on the street and eventually gave up riding altogether. Even with running lights you are not as visable and what would be just bent bodywork in a car can be tragic on a bike.
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Old 06-14-2008, 10:55 AM
 
Location: Obama playing field
716 posts, read 1,400,113 times
Reputation: 362
Idiots can just barely keep themselves from ramming other vehicles by having their heads stuck up their a$$ what chance do cyclist or bikes have?
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Old 06-14-2008, 10:59 AM
 
Location: NH. NY. SC. next move, my ground condo
3,541 posts, read 9,076,797 times
Reputation: 4448
Unhappy scarist moment on my bike

You want to here something really stupid. last week i was passing a car on my bike and next thing i know i have a car passing me in the brake down lane on my left , so i'm between two cars. man, i almost **** my pants, i didn't know what to do. i had my wife on the back. also i have a big bike a goldwing aspencade. there was like two feet on either side of me. i thought man, we are going to crash. and i could see a car coming at us. i didn't know if the guy passing me was going to keep going or what. so i just kept pace with the guy i was passing just to be safe. and can you beleave the guy kept passing and then i continued passing. my heart felt like it was going to explode. then the guy turns down a side road 2 miles up the road we were traveling and then he gives me the finger. can you beleave that ? i wouldn't be able to if i wasn't there. why this guy couldn't see my big bike in broad daylight is behond me. that had to have been the scariest ride i have ever had. just wanted to share why cars and bikes don't mix well. some drivers just don't give a crap about motorcycles.
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Old 06-14-2008, 11:12 AM
 
Location: Obama playing field
716 posts, read 1,400,113 times
Reputation: 362
Compared to roads in europe, they are far wider here and yet on a little piece of road (euroland) they can fit both a car/bike lane alongside one another, why cant they come up with the same innitiative here?, on a MORE CONSISTANT LEVEL??

If it were made much safer, im sure there'll be more motorbike/cycle users out there.

This calls for the environmentalist, bikers, cyclists to put pressure on their local administrations to put forward an initiative that would make it more appealing to use the alternatives instead of a car.
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Old 06-14-2008, 11:19 AM
 
43,195 posts, read 47,049,205 times
Reputation: 13682
That and the fact thet bike tires don't put much rubber on the road to stop well or do bikes offer any protection ;that I sold my motorcycle. Afterall they are not exactly the size of a car. I also see alot of bikers zooming in between lane passing cars;doubt the cars see them.
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Old 06-14-2008, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Obama playing field
716 posts, read 1,400,113 times
Reputation: 362
Well, ofcourse their not going to be seen, how can they? half of the time they got their stupid celfones shoved in their heads and most dont even bother to scan or be made aware of whats around them??

Take for example just yesterday, me and suv turned left from the lights and next thing you know, as im straightening up it starts veering into my lane and ofcourse the natural instinct would be to brake, boy was i mad. I zoomed off to go in front of thir idiot and lo and behold, another stupid woman driver with her celfone. I cut her up and sharp brake in front of her, did she p!$$ herself!!
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Old 06-14-2008, 01:10 PM
 
Location: NH. NY. SC. next move, my ground condo
3,541 posts, read 9,076,797 times
Reputation: 4448
Question what are they thinkin, or maybe their not

Quote:
Originally Posted by GracieJJ View Post
Well, ofcourse their not going to be seen, how can they? half of the time they got their stupid celfones shoved in their heads and most dont even bother to scan or be made aware of whats around them??

Take for example just yesterday, me and suv turned left from the lights and next thing you know, as im straightening up it starts veering into my lane and ofcourse the natural instinct would be to brake, boy was i mad. I zoomed off to go in front of thir idiot and lo and behold, another stupid woman driver with her celfone. I cut her up and sharp brake in front of her, did she p!$$ herself!!

YA, i know. they drive like their sitting in their officechair. not paying any attention to what's around them. laugh ing on the cell phone smokin a butt having a good ole time. some people make me wonder how the hell they even got their lisence to begin with. kinda makes you wonder, man. are they just handin them out at the dmv or what.
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