open topic, for anything cycling related.
I have noticed a lot of the "moron motorists" posts are actually incidents of the driver legitimately not seeing the cyclist. Many (certainly NOT all) of the videos I watch there I think "why did you put yourself in that situation for that to happen?". It is easy to get angry about that and claim them inept but following a series of shows on SBS about how the human brain perceives things and a discussion with my wife who recently completed a "defensive driving" course through her work something became apparent.
Motorists often DON'T see you.
This isn't because they don't look, it is partly to do with how the brain works and partly because current driver training doesn't teach them how to look properly. This isn't just cyclists either, many car-car accidents the at fault driver claims they looked but didn't see the car they hit.
So we can get angry and self righteous about it OR we can understand what is happening and ride accordingly (or a bit of both!). A bit of searching this morning turned up this article:
http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/raf-pilo ... -cyclists/
"John Sullivan is a Royal Air Force pilot with over 4,000 flight hours in his career, and a keen cyclist. He is a crash investigator and has contributed to multiple reports. Fighter pilots have to cope with speeds of over 1000 mph. Any crashes are closely analysed to extract lessons that can be of use."
The article has some VERY interesting observations on the limitations of the human brain and why people honestly don't see other cars, motorbikes or bicycles at times. It also concludes with some very good suggestions for both drivers and cyclists.
It also has a link to this article:
http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/7-mistak ... rect-them/
Which has some very good points to consider as a cyclists and many of them match up with what John Sullivan recommends.
I would recommend EVERY cyclist who values their life and rides on the road to spend a few minutes and read both of those articles. You may already know much of it but if you get one thing out of either of them it may just save your life.
I do a lot of riding... And in general I disagree with your sentiments. I think motorists not seeing bikes before collisions is actually quite rare.
It's my belief that they see bikes, and misjudge their speed - or just think "f him - he can make his own arrangements". Then, after the collision when the cops show "sorry I didn't see you" is the best they can come up with. Lets be realistic too...even saying "oops" is all you need to say in QLD.
In summary... SMIDSY is in my experience just an over reported excuse.
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill.
Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day.
Oh, so we're stuffed either way?
Sorry did a few searches but obviously used the wrong terms as I didn't notice it. Seems that thread basically just turned into a 4 post discussion on flash rate on a particular light.
Comedian - not saying ALL cases. I know the 2 close calls I have had in the last 5 years both times the driver absolutely !! BAN ME NOW FOR SWEARING !! themselves when they saw me and were VERY genuinely apologetic. One was a girl in her 20's and the other was an older tradie. Both looked (I saw them look) and then went anyway and when I yelled and slammed on the brakes and threw it sideways they both jumped on the breaks and got out to check I was OK and were visibly shaken and clearly weren't putting it on that they hadn't seen me.
So while I am not saying this is the case ALL the time I think it is a major contributory factor for many incidents. It doesn't account for people who deliberately do things - they are a whole other category.
I would say the vast majority of the times when a motorist cuts me off it is because they don't see me. But I rarely have had near misses with these because I ride in anticipation that motorists don't see me. But not seeing a cyclist is not an excuse. It is an admission that you are not driving with due care. You should look and look properly for ALL traffic.
The near misses I do receive have generally been angry motorists who are deliberately targeting me as a cyclist. The yelling and screaming often gives it away.
[a] or they do see you and just don't give a stuff. This happened to me last night. Riding home I saw a driver reversing out of their driveway. In case driver had not seen me I shone my ay-ups directly into the driver window. Driver saw me alright but reversed out anyway and stopped in the middle of the road for me to cycle around. Driver gave a nice wave as I went past. To me that wave was saying "yes I saw you but I don't usually see cyclists so I didn't know what to do. In driving in front of you I know I did the wrong thing but my car was already reversing and I couldn't think about how to stop it fast enough and then the car was on the road and it was too late. I am embarrased I did a stupid thing and now I'm waving to apologise".
Bottom line is that even if people see you they will still do stupid things. When you are out on the roads just think "stupid people do stupid things... expect it and ride accordingly"
[b] for the reasons above... ride accordingly. Assume the driver has not seen you, if they have seen you, don't assume they will give way, obey the law or in any other way drive sensibly or safely. My worst example of this is a bus driver who, on a clear day watched me enter an intersection and then proceeded to turn in front of me. I figure the driver thought his bus was a little bigger than me and I would just get out of the way... which I did! I am not about to assert my legal right if it means I end up under a bus.
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Ummmmm, I never said it WAS an excuse.
I am saying it is a fact of life.
So I am saying there is 2 situations in the "moron motorist" thread (and general encounters)
1) Idiots who see you and target you or choose to ignore you. They deserve the title.
2) Those that honestly don't see you, they look but don't see. There is a reason for this and it is hard wired in the human brain and at times you may think they have seen you because they look in your general direction but reality is they may not have seen you (read the article rather than just saying I am wrong on that).
So for 2) while it is not an excuse in terms of the law it is a reality that we as cyclists are on the loosing end of. So we can be "self righteous" about them not having an excuse or we can acknowledge the reality that not all drivers show due care and ride in such a way to minimise the risk. The linked to articles provide the physical reason for the occurrence and good suggestions on ways you can act to maximise your chances of being seen. I think both articles are sensible and offer valuable insight.
Do with them as you wish, I offer them here to share with others in the hope that it may save a life by educating a few more cyclists on the realities of not being seen.
We can all come up with a multitude of reasons why accidents happen - but in essence the SMIDSY incidents occur from driver laziness.
Very often, drivers wont head check the blindspot, and to that end - also fail to indicate. With out proper knowledge of their surroundings and/or without communicating their actions to other users then SMIDSY incidents occur.
You can't expect the bulk of people to change anytime soon so rather than allow them to put you in danger, the onus is on you the rider to put yourself in a position that best reduces the chances of an incident. Ride defensively and ride smart.
I've spent the best part of 8 years commuting on my Motorbike and the last 2 splitting time with the pushie, and SMIDSY applies to both.
The safest method is to assume all vehicles in traffic will have an accident with you, and ride to prevent them.
Don't ride alongside a car in the blindspot, give yourself a metre or 2 back. Take extra care when the outer lane turns off and crosses over your path - do a head check well in advance, signal what you want to do to traffic coming up behind you - see how it responds, pick the point where you merge in and try not to be erratic.
Invest in good lighting and a bit of reflective kit helps too, make yourself visible. There are too many cyclists about the seem to think a set of front & rear deflectors does the job. Not to a pedestrian who doesnt have a light source coming out of them to produce the light required for reflectors to work.
Beware of the "Door zone" ie: bike lanes put between parked cars and the active road. If it is wide enough, utilise it but give yourself a chance to react should a door fling open. If its less than a metre wide - forget it and stay on the left of the active road.
Lane FILTERING should only be done once you pull up to a slow speed and assess whats going on between the cars. Too many riders 'bomb' their way past me to the front of the lights - but i've seen enough near misses and have to put up with my partners brother forever arguing against cycling because he was collected twice by cyclists in this fashion while crossing a green man on a busy intersection - without apology.
Last point, plan a sensible path to work. If it veers off the main roads but adds 5 minutes to your ride it's much better than being in amoungst the morons on the road.
Most people have poor driving skills. Yesterday I saw a car exit a service station and T bone a passing car in the street. I thought how could anybody be so stupid. Some drivers are inpatient, some don't care, some are just plain dumb, some are busy on their phone, some are in a hurry. I was hit from behind once by a driver doing a left turn and he said ""sorry I didn't see you"". I was forced into a parked car when I had to take evasive action from an oncoming car that turned into a factory complex. he said ""sorry mate I didn't see you""
Actually no they don't (some do). Go read the article.
They also occur because drivers are not taught how to look. They look but the brain process only focuses on a small patch with any detail and the brain guesses the rest and fills it in. If you aren't in that exact spot they looked at then chances are the brain will guess you aren't there, wont process you and you wont appear in the persons vision at all.
It isn't a case of them not looking at all as is the basic assumption.
Interesting article (I saw it posted on CycleChat a while back), but it doesn't account for the fact that cyclists are far better than motorists at seeing other cyclists and pedestrians*. I suspect it's something to do with self-preservation, i.e. we pay more attention because we have to to stay in one piece.
* at least, that's my overall impression. No doubt someone on these fora will dispute it.
I'll concur, but I was lucky as I was taught how to look - back when I was on my L's. Got slapped everytime I didnt head check
That said though my driving instructor was in my view, worth the money. The need to check blindspots really became enforced once I started riding motorbikes tho. Too much risk to take a punt when changing lanes. Stick someone in a car and they feel the risk of not looking isn't something that can harm them given their surrounds.
Also has alot to do with people not being familiar with people doing things they don't do - hence they aren't inclined to look out for it.
Anyway, regardless of how thoroughly a driver 'looks' and wether they see you or not, the best action is to place yourself in a spot to take action - or stick a large attention grabbing high output strobe light to your ass
Thanks for sharing. Good to read all the responses to the article as well, different organisations wanting to use it in their news letters, etc.
I've been watching a lot of documentaries on Foxtel, and there was one on recently about the science of seeing and perception. Supports the linked article.
The article talks of ALWAYS looking twice before pulling out (ie left, right, left, right) and with each look quickly scanning "far, medium, near" so changing the point of focus 3 times with each look. Hence much more likely to see something that the brain averages to "nothing there".
As I said, it came up in discussion with my wife as she recently did a "defensive driver" training course. There they were taught to constantly scan the road ahead. Left side, ahead long, ahead middle, ahead short, right, ahead, RH mirror, rear mirror, ahead, start again. Comment was basically the same, you simply "don't see" stuff you don't look AT. So while you look in that direction if you are looking long distance you miss detail (such as pedestrian, dog, cyclists) in the foreground. Comment was also that 90% of drivers don't do this and it is a MAJOR cause of accident - and the reason is they are never taught to (not because they are lazy).
A simple "look in the direction" really doesn't give you a complete picture. It gives you good detail in one small section and a "brain guess" for the rest. The "brain guess" will rarely include a random object such as a cyclist.
So if they look THROUGH you they didn't see you, they must look AT you. That means you either have to put yourself in a position that they will look AT you or expect them to not notice you.
Obvious thing is if you are at the left gutter hugging they will look down the road (maybe a few m to your right) for cars. You are not actually in their field of "detailed" view and as such your existence has a high chance of being averaged out and you disappearing - and this is a function of our brains, not their laziness.
And I am saying it is not. Can you explain why drivers in other countries exhibit far better behaviour and can see cyclists far more than Australian drivers?
Oh, so its not the driver's fault it is their teachers.
It is a case of not caring. Funnily enough there is a massive correlation between the importance a person considers their task and their competency. This applies to everything in our daily lives. The fact is many motorists in Australia lack don't recognise nor care about the potential danger they present to others. THIS results is inadequate looking.
Spin it however you want. It is still is incompetence.
The actual attitude mostly is SMIDGAF. Also people who do care take the time to look more thoroughly. Impatience, recklessness and frustration are the real causes at issue.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
The "Sorry mate, didn't see you" excuse has worn abit thin with me.....its much like the, when I'm walking my dog (on a leash), getting attacked by the savage on the loose mut, with the owners in pursuit 'Sorry mate, my dogs never like this' Yeah whatever, unfortunately we live in the 'blame it on everyone else' society.
They have copped abit of flak, but tradies are simple the worst, as has been said at this forum previously (can't remember where)....they don't care about me on my bicycle or my when I'm in my car or walking my dog....Yes....thats walking the dog, I live in a new residential area, got so sick of tradies hooking me when Im about to cross the road at corners and nearly taking my dog out, that I had to invest in one of those high visibilty polo shirts.
Did they see me....well yes they did....they just don't give a flying ....did they misjudge their speed....haha yes, I see them all the time try to take corners like they are driving in F1 in their massive 4WD's with the tradie trailers, in such a high gear they nearly gurgle to a halt.
It seems mandatory for tradies to take a layer of my skin with them every time they pass me on my bicycle....they speed, run red lights, drive aggressively on and on and on the bad behaviors go...they are mad, bad, angry and out there.
"Road rule exemption licence"......where do I get one?
Sorry to be off the original post.....just had to vent.
SOME other countries. Countries where there are a lot more cyclists on the road so they are used to looking and also because there are more cyclists there is a better chance the driver is a cyclist so they look there.
Did you do some of the exercises in the article?
It was very interesting to realise what you don't see. No-one had ever explained to me (prior to the SBS show) that when I look left and see a picture I am actually missing most of the detail. I never realised that. No-one ever taught me that. I didn't know that if I look right up a road and see nothing that there may in fact be a dog sitting on the road a few metres from me and I simple don't see it. I would swear I looked that way so why didn't I see it? It isn't a case of not being careful, it is a case of not understanding that you only have a detailed view of a small percentage of your vision, the rest your brain guesses and averages and if your brain isn't expecting a dog then you wont see it.
So is it the teachers fault? ONLY if the teacher was aware of those limitations as well. If not then they can't be blamed for not teaching something they were also unaware of.
In SOME cases yes. In others people look and HONESTLY think that they have seen everything there. They don't understand the limitations of human vision and so have no reason to think "I looked right, nothing there" actually means "I looked right and there was nothing in the exact direction and focal distance that I was looking at but just near that there may be an alligator and my brain totally missed that because I didn't look EXACTLY AT the alligator".
Go read the article. You might learn something.
Or don't and continue on your self righteous way if it makes you feel better.
A condition of the brain.. sounds like an elaborate spin on "being old"
Well I intepretate the argument is that basically people are trying to invent a reason give folk an out for running down someone - as if thier lack of attentitiveness isn't really thier fault.
Granted I would pay it if it were night time on an unlit road with a ninja cyclist.
Anyway, regardless - as much as I love day-glo apparel - it does help if you make an effort to be seen.
But once those pesky laws relating to PPD's are repealed, there will be an explosion in cycling rates and then there will never be an excuse for a driver not to look for a bicycle. There will also be free beer and every second day will be a holiday.
And as much as you will never see me riding in black clothing on a black bike without lights in low-light conditions, you will also not see me saying that every cyclist should wear fluoro gear and have lights on at all times - because that will train the drivers only to look for fluoro and lights.
I ride, therefore I am.
...real cyclists don't have squeaky chains...
I'm a little on the fence with this one. On the one hand, I have some understanding of how our vision system works so I understand why people don't see me, I understand that it's (normally) not a malicious act. On the other hand, if I can figure out what I need to do to see everything then why can't everyone else? Are they all lazy and incompetent? People don't see me because they aren't looking properly, unfortunately their incompetence becomes my problem all day every day and it does wear a little thin.
I don't know what the answer is, better training would be a start, but people should be taking some responsibility for themselves and should be striving to make themselves safer drivers.
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Irrespective of who sees what and where, the only relevant issue is not to become the victim. Knowing how road users (motor vehicle drivers, motor bike riders, cyclists, pedestrians) may or may not behave is at the core of it, the rest comes in how smart and defensively one rides. Finger pointing is meaningless when there's no shortage of cyclists who flaunt road rules and put others and themselves at risk.
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Hi Scarfy96, I watched the same show and came to the same conclusion.
I'm actually a bit of a fan of Apollo Robbins, the 'gentleman pickpocket' that they feature on the show to illustrate the way the brain is designed to focus on specific tasks, which unfortunately means that it also discounts other information it may receive. So I was looking forward to the program when it aired.
Here's a succinct analysis of some of the points made in the program if others are interested:
I agree that there are plenty of aggressive irresponsible motorists out there. I agree that there also absent minded motorists out there. However, I"d agree wholeheartedly with the proposition by Scarfy that a lot of motorists out there come across to more vulnerable road users such as cyclists as irresponsible, not because they are intentionally trying to endanger cyclists, but because the framework of their road perception simply doesn't include cyclists as expected road users.
The classic scenario for me is the roundabout. Sometimes motorists don't stop because the only signal they are looking for to stop is represented by a car. They unconsciously filter out non-car objects such as cyclists. This is of course not to agree or suggest that this state of affairs is acceptable. Rather, its to acknowledge certain perceptual limitations of your fellow faster/heavier road user.
I draw on my own experience as a motorist before I regularly cycled. While I was aware of cyclists and definitely took care around them in my pre cycling days, when I drive now I am now actively looking for cyclists and take even more care around them when I drive. I actually read the road a lot more differently these days, expecting cyclists and respecting their use of the road when they do appear. I think in a perfect world everyone would do the same. However, until there are more cyclists on the road I can't see any improvement on a cultural level.
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