Ideas For Checking For Cars Approaching From Behind?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by bayareacyclist, Apr 4, 2015.

  1. bayareacyclist

    bayareacyclist New Member

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    If you’re road cycling double file (with someone side by side), any ideas on how to check for cars approaching from behind without having to constantly turn your head?
     
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  2. ABNPFDR

    ABNPFDR Member

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    Yes, use your ears though I am sure there will be 1000 responses to follow about getting a mirror and which ones work best

    cars make more noise than bikes (even electric cars). Even conversing during group rides I can pick up on cars approaching from the back. Just keep an ear out. Plus, you have the right of way.

    In major cities or heavily trafficked areas I just assume there is a car behind me.
     
  3. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake New Member

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    Listening can be OK if you have good hearing, but nothing beats having at least one mirror. If you don't want one on your bike, I believe you can get a mirror for your helmet. And don't tell me you don't wear a helmet, since that is an excellent way to end up with serious injury from just taking a spill. The helmet mounted mirror is tiny.
    http://practicalbiking.org/2010/06/how-to-choose-and-use-a-bike-mirror.html/
     
  4. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake New Member

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    I should have caught this when making the reply above, but I don't see how double file on most public highways in America could be anything but a bad idea. Here in Florida when not in a dedicated bike lane you should be within 3 feet of the edge or white line at the edge of the roadway. I understand the argument that two abreast makes the bikes more visible, but it also makes it nigh unto impossible for both cyclists to be within 3 feet of the edge and can result in making motorists angry and possibly drive too close to the cyclists in order to pass. In Florida it is illegal to ride more than two abreast.

    Has there actually been any study to show that the increased liklyhood of being sideswiped by an angry motorist doesn't offset the advantage of being more visible when two abreast?
     
  5. Dora M

    Dora M Member

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    I had this problem resolved by installing a mirror on my handlebar. At first I didn't want it, but my partner insisted on attaching one after I got nearly rammed by a truck a few weeks ago. I now find it invaluable while getting around the busy streets in my city. But I usually take it off when I go for rides in the countryside as there are hardly any cars, and I don't really the mirror.
     
  6. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake New Member

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    The mirror that I have on my bike (and the ones that my son has on his bikes) would be difficult to remove, I have had one (in fact I still own it and I believe I could find it easily) that basically straps on with velcro. The removable one is rather unstable, so I don't like it. If you are on country roads with scant traffic, not having the mirror is more dangerous than on the city streets. On country roads the traffic will be moving faster, and you can be lulled into a false sense of safety. I want to know when a car is approaching me at high speed. The guy in the car is probably not expecting to see you, and may be traveling far above the posted speed limit. And he may have just polished off his second six-pack.
     
  7. kana_marie

    kana_marie Member

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    I just listen, myself. I ride in very rural areas so I couldn't ignore the sound if I wanted to. You can actually hear them from close to a mile away on a good day.
     
  8. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake New Member

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    Many riders have impaired hearing, but I doubt that there are many blind bikers (perhaps there are systems to allow that?) For most circumstances mirrors present no problems. I cannot think of any reason for not having mirrors on your bike.
     
  9. Sunflogun

    Sunflogun Member

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    That was never an issue to me because hearing is a great aid. So when riding double file like you call it, something I don't do that often by the way, all my senses are on the road, so I can listen to cars and go to the side of the road if necessary. Nothing more is needed as far as I am concerned.
     
  10. schwinnhund

    schwinnhund New Member

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    It's not a problem around here, because cars usually start honking their horns about 50 yards back, or more, and the Finger-Birds start flying at about 10 yards. Just to be sure you know they are coming, they signal with loud 4-letter words as they pass. Obviously, they believe communication is the key....

    I also have some neat little rear-view mirrors that attach to my glasses. That way, I can see who is flipping me off. After all, it would be a shame to waste a good bird....
     
  11. Sunflogun

    Sunflogun Member

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    Where I live actually we do have a lot of cars and they don't honk that much, but it's pretty obvious that they are coming, at least for me. I do ride by the side of the road, so they can get past me with no big effort.
     
  12. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake New Member

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    Around here the motorists wait until they are passing to blow their horns, making sure that you will not be able to rely on hearing to notice future approaching motorists. It is far too easy for a person to block out attention to their hearing.
     
  13. mpre53

    mpre53 Well-Known Member

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    The law in my state requires that I ride "as far to the right as practicable". Since I almost always ride alone, if safety lets me stay on the shoulder, that's where I ride. But since a lot of roads near me are coming apart, sometimes as far to the right as practicable is the center line.

    I'm not wedging my front tire in a 23mm wide crack for anyone.
     
  14. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

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    Mirrors are good for keeping tabs on approaching traffic.

    I had considered prototyping a helmet with ultrasonic sensors in the rear and vibration transducers to create a "sixth" sense device for threats approaching from behind. It may be a bit impractical but still a fun project.

    In practice, you shouldn't need to be constantly checking for approaching traffic. Situational awareness is good, and you always need to check your six when you change your line, change lanes or turning. In the end you have to put some trust in the drivers behind you so you can focus on what is in front.
     
  15. joshposh

    joshposh Banned

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    Take the earphone off so you can hear the cars coming. That's one thing. Then you can add some rear view mirrors. That way you don't have to turn your head to look at cars behind you.
     
  16. mpre53

    mpre53 Well-Known Member

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    Always look before you move out into the lane. Don't rely on a mirror alone. On the driver's road test, when I got my license, backing up using your mirror alone was an automatic fail.
     
  17. kylerlittle

    kylerlittle Member

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    There are special mirrors that can be implemented and installed on your bike, I love them. You can also create a home made one, it would be a nice project for you. All you would have to buy is some equipment to hold a mirror that can get attached to your bike, or you can buy already especially made mirrors for bikes and problem solved!
     
  18. lordrenly

    lordrenly New Member

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    I never actually installs mirrors on my bike but seeing the comments here and how useful they are, maybe I will start to install some. Using my ear is actually the only thing that I do during the day. Even then, I would not be able to do anything once a car approach me from behind. During the night, you can always see the headlights. I agree that staying as far right as possible is a great idea but in the end, you just have to trust the cars behind you not to do anything bad.
     
  19. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake New Member

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    I agree about not just relying on the mirror. You always need to be aware , whether driving a bike or a car.

    In most states, and by Federal law, bicycles are vehicles and belong on the road. In some cities, it is legal to use sidewalks when regular bike lanes are not provided, but that is how I got hit by a deputy sheriff (see my thread about that). Riding on the shoulder can be dangerous as you could take a spill and fall into traffic.
     
  20. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Rather than install a mirror on your bike, suggest you put one on your helmet or eyeglasses. I use a Cycleaware helmet-mouted mirror, easy to adjust and gives a clear view back. The mirror gives me confidence that the car approaching has moved over to pass safely. I like to think that being able to watch the car approaching and passing gives me an edge, in the rare case I need to move over or dive off the road to avoid being hit. We ride a lot of narrow two-lanes here, with no shoulders, so being hit from behind is the major cause of cycling deaths.
     
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