Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

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Punx0r   100 GW

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Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by Punx0r » Nov 07 2014 7:59am

A bit of research conducting on how a cyclist's choice of clothing affects the distance at which cars overtake during daytime riding:

http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/2013/11/26/o ... -cyclists/

Conclusion: No matter how much hi-vis you wear, it makes bugger all difference, unless drivers think you are a police officer.

Also, for the test location, the distance cars pass at has reduced by a third since 1979.

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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by The fingers » Nov 07 2014 9:45am

I wear a flouro green reflective vest and ankle bands day and night. I don't feel any safer but I believe I'm more visible, especially in overcast, foggy, and low light conditions.
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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by Ykick » Nov 07 2014 9:53am

Punx0r wrote:A bit of research conducting on how a cyclist's choice of clothing affects the distance at which cars overtake during daytime riding:

http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/2013/11/26/o ... -cyclists/

Conclusion: No matter how much hi-vis you wear, it makes bugger all difference, unless drivers think you are a police officer.

Also, for the test location, the distance cars pass at has reduced by a third since 1979.
My experience riding faired, upright street motorcycles for a long, long time collaborates this finding. While CHP style looks a bit dorky, drivers tend to be much more wary and careful.

Air horns will get Oscar's attention/respect too. Something about "self-preservation" kicks in if/when Mr Grope believes he's just about to be creamed by an 18 wheeler....
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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by MadRhino » Nov 07 2014 10:19am

I noticed that:

1: Safest is to ride equal or faster than cars, take the lane and not let them overtake you.

2: Safest clothes to ride are leathers, safety glasses, riding gloves and boots.

3: Ebike power is wonderful :wink:
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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by Eclectic » Nov 07 2014 1:28pm

I don’t have a citation for the statistics but I believe that accidents per million vehicle miles is significantly higher for motorcycles than bicycles.

From my experience riding motorcycles and now ebikes, cage drivers are most dangerous when they think they don’t see you, when their subconscious filters you out. My goal with wearing hi-vis stuff is to get drivers to see me with their conscious mind. I may not be able to influence what decision a driver will make but a least I can force a driver to make a conscious decision and not just filter me out.
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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by r3volved » Nov 07 2014 1:37pm

I generally just go out and drive fairly offensively by taking the lane and maintaining the speed of traffic.

I would't go out in the jungle expecting the tigers to change their habits for my safety...I don't 'expect' any different in the urban jungle.

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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by cal3thousand » Nov 07 2014 6:31pm

I don't expect that high vis clothing will help with the 1-2 percent of jerks that don't care.

But it should, and does, help with those that would give space if the cyclist were visible.

I'm not saying that the solution to safer biking is on the shoulders of the cyclist, but it does help the drivers identify a biker in dark or low visibility situations.

I still feel that all able bodied drivers should have to ride a bike for a couple miles in traffic before being allowed to take the driver's test. I know it would be very difficult to administer, but it would help people. Call it the "bike a mile in someone else's shoes" portion of the test.
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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by tomjasz » Nov 07 2014 6:35pm

Modulating lights. Worked on my scooter, seems to work on the EBike too.
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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by melodious » Nov 07 2014 7:11pm

I tend to wear high viz clothing for daytime riding. Makes me feel safer even though according to your link we aren't. 30 mph just isn't fast enough in many situations, and we still appear to be slow movers in a cager's eyes. Although, I'd rather be going 30 mph with traffic than a 15-20 mph "tree stump".

At night I turn on the LED monkeylights on the spokes. This summer I set them to blue & red. I've noticed I get more respect and space from cars since this move.
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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by Joseph C. » Nov 07 2014 7:27pm

Strong lights used day and night are better than any type of clothing. Towing a trailer helps to dramatically reduce close overtaking too.

Ultimately, all of these issues will become a thing of the past when self-driving cars enter the mainstream and when all vehicles 'talk' to one another.

The thing about law-abiding motorists is that they are a lot like Santa Claus - they don't exist.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, will do something stupid at least once when driving car that breaks the law, whether its not indicating, going over the speed limit, not looking, not allowing sufficient braking distance... You're rolling the die as to whether that something stupid costs someone their life or not.

The only way to eliminate the risk is to have self-driving cars - which will also have safety features that will prevent motorists doing something stupid when driving the car manually. A few short years from now there will be no such thing as a vehicle surprising another vehicle around a blind bend. All vehicles will know where they are in relation to one another and they will also know the length and width of everything or if the vehicle is towing a trailer.

It will also be trivial to have small devices on bikes that will give the cyclist's speed and position while identifying itself as a bicycle to other vehicles.

For now all we can do is roll the die and try and stack the odds as best we can in our favour.
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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by amberwolf » Nov 07 2014 10:42pm

I used to be a big proponent of hi-viz clothing/etc.


But for years I've been almost exclusively riding CrazyBike2, which has a semirecumbent seat that hides almost all of my body/clothing from behind, and because of that I stopped wearing the dayglo vests and stuff--it was just more to put on and make me hot, so....

When I wasn't riding that one, I was riding a trike that has a similar seat, and similar occlusion. (Delta Tripper)


Now, both of these have at least motorcycle-class lighting used day/night, plus downlighting that makes them "bigger" at night by lighting up the road around them.

Then I have a standard orange SMV sign attached to the back of each (actually just one I move between them, but...).

Then I have reflective tape (yellow/black on sides and front, as well as white strips on front-facing surfaces; red/white on back and red strips on rear-facing surfaces) on CrazyBike2. The back of CB2 presently looks like some of the signs indicating things you ought not to run into if you value your vehicle and life, and probably help more than any clothing would. ;)

Delta Tripper has less solid surfaces to attach that stuff to, so it only has a few bits of white facing front, and red facing rear.

Both of them are also significantly larger than a typical bicycle, and are thus more visible on their own.


So, while I'm not depending on clothing for visibility, I do still make sure I'm visible.


Then, I ride to make sure I am seen, *and* I also assume that I am invisible, because there *are* still the occasional people (drivers, pedestrians, cyclists) that "didn't see me" even under conditions where they'd've had to have their eyes removed to not see me. But while their eyes almsot certainly saw me, their brain probably wasn't paying attention to any of that.


I always make sure I have somewhere to go if the traffic around me does something stupid, and if it gets crowded enough I'll pick a different route rather than risk it. I also make sure that I'm watching all the pedestrians and other sidewalk traffic, and driveways, and ensure I have somewhere to go when THEY do soemthing stupid, like step out right in front of me.

I also make sure I'm not actually where I coudl hit them if they did--I don't ride in the bike lane (or area if it's unmarked) itself if there's a chance of something popping out into it, car or bike or pedestrian. I ride in the middle of the regular lane instead, so I can dodge left or right as needed (since these things usually happen with essentially zero time for braking, even at only 15MPH, and I typically cruise at 18-just under 20MPH.


This also helps me avoid doorings, cuz that's something else that's a common problem--bike lanes striped rigth up to the doors of parked cars.

It comes down to: If there's a risk, I don't ride there.

If I *have* to ride there, I'll do everything I can to not be there when the risk is bad, or ride slower or whatever to give more reaction time, etc.



Being visible helps, but only if others are paying attention. If a person can hit (or step out in front of) a huge city bus because they "didn't see it" under conditions that make that extremely unlikely, then they probably weren't paying attention to their surroundings. And that's a pretty common condition for poeple in general, whether walking, riding, or driving.



One thing I will say about clothing/etc for visibility: In my experiences over the years, I have noticed that when I or others were riding regular bikes, and our clothes and hat or helmet (if any) matched our bike color, we were noticed more than if we had disparate colors on everything.

Dayglo colors were noticed more than regular ones, but any solid color scheme that wasn't the same as the background, or all black/dark grey/etc., worked pretty well vs mismatched colros on things.

It also worked better if your rims/spokes/hubs were also colored the same as the bike.


Basically, it made you look "bigger" as a single larger object to the first glance of the eye, vs several smaller less-consequential objects of different colors.



A month or so ago, I finally painted CrazyBike2 all one color (other than the reflective areas and teh brown seat mesh), and it is MUCH more visible than when it was a bunch of different colors. Even though now it's frame is exposed and "hollow" between the tubes, vs it being covered wtih coroplast and pictures and stuff that "filled" those spaces, it still looks "bigger" now. I'm sure the red coloration has something to do with it, but I think I could've used almost any solid color and it would have helped.


More people notice it, more people comment on it, and more people pay attention to it.

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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by John in CR » Nov 08 2014 7:23am

MadRhino wrote:I noticed that:
1: Safest is to ride equal or faster than cars, take the lane and not let them overtake you....
I agree 100%. Turn the tables on cars and make them the slow moving objects (relative to you) and they are quite easily avoided with loads of free space available for a bike to fit comfortably. While in some situations I snug up close behind a car in front just off one of it's rear corners to use it as a blocking back to make it impossible for other cars to tackle me, I typically use acceleration and speed to open up huge amounts of space as cushion. They can't hit me if I don't let them get within 100 yards of me.

Lateral motion greatly improves visibility. For traffic entering or crossing from a side I change position in the lane, not only to get to an optimum position to be able to avoid them if they pull out, but it also functions as a wave to them "here I am coming toward you with the right of way" and it makes it easier for them to judge your speed. For cars behind you, lateral motion makes you seem less predictable, and they will subconsciously give you more space or wait for a more appropriate time to overtake you. Slow riding ebikers should try it and see how much more space cars give you. When you hear a car coming from behind, before it gets too close move out into the lane 2 or 3 feet and then back to your original position, and watch the cars squeeze over to the centerline to give you as wide a berth as possible. For the drivers paying attention like they should, it makes them want to stay well away from you, and for those who aren't, the lateral movement will help alert them to your presence.

The worst place to ride is like a cyclist, at a slow speed in a straight line over at the very edge of the road. That's where the all the road debris ends up. It leads drivers to overestimate the space available. It leaves you the least room to avoid cars trying to hit you. Cars pass much closer to you. It makes your speed harder to judge, and last but not least, it makes you practically invisible to motorists, because they're looking at what's coming down the middle of each lane, not out at the edges of the road.

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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by dogman dan » Nov 08 2014 8:24am

There IS an effect of clothing on cycling safetly. High vis works when people look out the window of the car. When they don't, you are dead meat.

So the kind of driver that will kill you, will kill you whatever you are wearing. They also pull out in front of dump trucks, school busses, etc. In short, they drive like they are in Mexico.

But the "good" driver can still kill you, and being noticeable some how can help with them. No need to wear clothes that are not easy to see. Or not have noticeable stuff on it, in a case like crazy bike. Ineffective as it may be, it beats trying to be invisible.

As for cars passing you too close. This is a cultural thing, and it will vary in different cities, states, or countries. Here where I live, 90% of the bikes you see out on the street are ridden by bums. These bums get no road respect whatsoever, and people pass them so close it's nuts.

So the LAST thing I want to do is go riding looking like them. Jeans and a t shirt, or some old coat, gets my ear flicked by truck mirrors. Wearing my "looks like I can afford a lawyer" cycling high visibility stuff does get me more road room. IF THEY SEE ME AT ALL, that is. Sorry to say this AW, but both of us look like bums on our homemade longtails. I get much more road respect if I ride a normal bike and look wealthy.

I've toyed with the idea of putting a doll in a baby seat on my longtail. :wink:

As always, "ride like you are invisible".

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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by gogo » Nov 08 2014 11:05am

John in CR wrote: Lateral motion greatly improves visibility. For traffic entering or crossing from a side I change position in the lane, not only to get to an optimum position to be able to avoid them if they pull out, but it also functions as a wave to them "here I am coming toward you with the right of way" and it makes it easier for them to judge your speed. For cars behind you, lateral motion makes you seem less predictable, and they will subconsciously give you more space or wait for a more appropriate time to overtake you. Slow riding ebikers should try it and see how much more space cars give you. When you hear a car coming from behind, before it gets too close move out into the lane 2 or 3 feet and then back to your original position, and watch the cars squeeze over to the centerline to give you as wide a berth as possible. For the drivers paying attention like they should, it makes them want to stay well away from you, and for those who aren't, the lateral movement will help alert them to your presence.

The worst place to ride is like a cyclist, at a slow speed in a straight line over at the very edge of the road. That's where the all the road debris ends up. It leads drivers to overestimate the space available. It leaves you the least room to avoid cars trying to hit you. Cars pass much closer to you. It makes your speed harder to judge, and last but not least, it makes you practically invisible to motorists, because they're looking at what's coming down the middle of each lane, not out at the edges of the road.
Amen. Take the lane and alternate between the two tire tracks. It really does give information to their subconscious about your speed and establishes your claim to the full lane. Ride in the track that forces the passer 'wide' and then when they have committed fully to the adjacent lane, increase the clearance by taking the other tire track away from them so there's less chance they'll cut you off.

A hunting rifle holstered visibly at the ready seems to help, also.
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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by The fingers » Nov 08 2014 12:37pm

I don't think towing a calliope with a wide load banner being played by a chimpanzee would cause the cagers to pay attention; unless escorted by pilot cars, CHP cruisers, and perhaps a dozen motorcycle cops, and a helicopter overhead downlighting the entire area with a night sun spotlight broadcasting "bow the knee!" over the PA system. :twisted:
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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by John in CR » Nov 09 2014 12:57am

gogo wrote:
John in CR wrote: Lateral motion greatly improves visibility. For traffic entering or crossing from a side I change position in the lane, not only to get to an optimum position to be able to avoid them if they pull out, but it also functions as a wave to them "here I am coming toward you with the right of way" and it makes it easier for them to judge your speed. For cars behind you, lateral motion makes you seem less predictable, and they will subconsciously give you more space or wait for a more appropriate time to overtake you. Slow riding ebikers should try it and see how much more space cars give you. When you hear a car coming from behind, before it gets too close move out into the lane 2 or 3 feet and then back to your original position, and watch the cars squeeze over to the centerline to give you as wide a berth as possible. For the drivers paying attention like they should, it makes them want to stay well away from you, and for those who aren't, the lateral movement will help alert them to your presence.

The worst place to ride is like a cyclist, at a slow speed in a straight line over at the very edge of the road. That's where the all the road debris ends up. It leads drivers to overestimate the space available. It leaves you the least room to avoid cars trying to hit you. Cars pass much closer to you. It makes your speed harder to judge, and last but not least, it makes you practically invisible to motorists, because they're looking at what's coming down the middle of each lane, not out at the edges of the road.
Amen. Take the lane and alternate between the two tire tracks. It really does give information to their subconscious about your speed and establishes your claim to the full lane. Ride in the track that forces the passer 'wide' and then when they have committed fully to the adjacent lane, increase the clearance by taking the other tire track away from them so there's less chance they'll cut you off.

A hunting rifle holstered visibly at the ready seems to help, also.
I don't trust the cagers as far as I can throw them, so on the very rare occasions that I do get passed, I do move over as far as practical as they are passing. You never know when some idiot is distracted on their cell phone, or texting, or putting on makeup, or just spilled their drink, or a turning around to smack their kids in the back seat, or the wide range of other mistakes I've seen them make in decades of driving. Yeah moving within the lane does work surprisingly well. Weaving like you're drunk works even better, because they get scared to pass you and will follow at greater distance. :mrgreen: I've used that one a few times when people follow too close with oncoming traffic making a proper pass impossible, but I'm too self conscious to use it often.

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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by Chalo » Nov 09 2014 3:37am

dogman dan wrote:I've toyed with the idea of putting a doll in a baby seat on my longtail. :wink:
Sounds like a prospective format for a battery pack.
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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by biohazardman » Nov 09 2014 6:01am

I almost hit a cyclist a few days back while in my car. It was dark, and raining hard, he was riding against traffic with no lights and dark clothing. I pulled up to the street to leave a parking lot, looked left as I was turning right and then looked right briefly for pedestrians on the sidewalk I was then blocking and surprise there he was stopped right next to my front fender. He then rode around and behind me. Good way to get hit even by those of us looking for cyclists. Myself I wear a safety vest, run lights day or night and ride the same direction as traffic as the law requires. I take the lane when I am riding the speed limit of 25mph usually doing 30 if roads are empty, like they often are, early in the morning. Still I have had a few come up behind and pass me anyway cuz IT’S JUST A BICYCLE. Expect they are doing 40 or 45mph when they go by usually giving me a dirty look but leaving me the whole lane. Guess they are not looking at their speedometers. On the main roads posted 30 and above I use the bike lanes as we have plenty else I pick an alternate route and use the slower neighborhood streets. I can get around pretty good in the city using the bike lanes and neighborhood streets with lower speed limits. I keep a good eye on my review mirror as it kept me from being run down once and always remember I am invisible even when eye contact is made. With all that I do and the usual politeness of most of the drivers around me I still have two or three very close calls a year. Drivers are so easily distracted it's a wonder we don't have ten times the accidents we have per year.
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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by dogman dan » Nov 09 2014 7:25am

That guy rides like all the bums in my town.

The uniform is black everything. The last two guys killed on a bike in my town were bums. Both were riding drunk, wearing black at night, and darted in front of a car. They already get no respect, but riding like that at night wearing black is suicide.

The dead guy before those was taking the lane at an intersection, wearing visibility clothing. So much for that helping him. In that case, in a two lane left turn, a car from the other lane just changed lanes and ran him down. Nothing helps when you share the road with a guy not looking at all.

I almost got tagged really good the other day, as a car pulled out from the McDonalds near my house. Last night I went through that drive through in my car, and saw why. His view of the bike lane is totally blocked by a bush that has grown another foot taller now.

One more local hazard to put on the watch out list.

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Re: Effect of Clothing on Cyclist Safety

Post by gogo » Nov 09 2014 10:50am

dogman dan wrote: One more local hazard to put on the watch out list.
Ya, we have shrubbery getting trimmed mysteriously and even dying outright sometimes in my city, too. :wink:
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