Recumbents in traffic?



B

Bob Landry

Guest
Here in Utah (Salt Lake City and environs, to be specific) street
traffic is dominated by full size pickups and SUVs, if not in numbers
at least in sheer bulk and tonnage.
A recumbent seems like a really nice idea for my 63 year old body, but
I worry about visibility. I'm 6'4" and always wear bright colors,
never been "buzzed" or harassed by cage drivers, but if I'm so low to
the ground vs. the profile I have on an ATB or road bike, I'm
concerned that I simply won't be seen by these folks in their rolling
isolation booths.
FWIW, this area is abysmal for bike lanes on city streets.

Comments? Experiences?


Bob
Just another nice basic flake.
(and old fart in training)

International Pipe-raising Day, Feb. 20th
 
In alt.rec.bicycles.recumbent on Tue, 18 Dec 2007 12:34:28 -0700
Bob Landry <[email protected]> wrote:
> Here in Utah (Salt Lake City and environs, to be specific) street
> traffic is dominated by full size pickups and SUVs, if not in numbers
> at least in sheer bulk and tonnage.


The car sizes in Australia are quite different, but when I've had to
deal with large 4WDs and trucks, they seem to see me OK.

I ride a Bacchetta Giro 20, so my seat height is about the height of a
normal car driver's seat. I find that if I ride like a vehicle - be
predictable, ride out from the gutter, signal, take the lane when I
need to, and so on - then people see me well enough.

There are 3 parts to the word "see" when in traffic.

physical: can they physically see you. Big vehicles can block vision,
but probably not that much when it counts if you ride like a vehicle.

perceptual: if they physically see you, do they notice you? Do they
think "there's something I need to deal with"? A recumbent has the
"what's that?" factor which can be very good for this. Many drivers
filter out anything that isn't another motor vehicle, riding a bent
bypasses this filter.

behavioural: they might see and notice you, but what then? Do they
do the right thing? Again, being on a bent seems to put you in a
category that isn't "cyclist". Make sure you are smiling (which isn't
hard on a bent!) and do other things to put you in the class "person"
not "irritating nuisance" and the behaviour will mostly be good.
THere's always idiots, can't do anything about them.

The real trick is to be seen as a legitimate vehicle. Do that by
riding like you are piloting one.

Zebee
 
On Tue, 18 Dec 2007 19:44:24 +0000, Zebee Johnstone wrote:

> perceptual: if they physically see you, do they notice you? Do they
> think "there's something I need to deal with"? A recumbent has the
> "what's that?" factor which can be very good for this. Many drivers
> filter out anything that isn't another motor vehicle, riding a bent
> bypasses this filter.


I'm sure you didn't mean this; a 'bent isn't a motor vehicle either, thus
would be no more likely to be perceived than a normal bike.

I think you meant you're more likely to be perceived because you're *not*
on a normal bike. I've heard this rationalization repeated many times,
but the data don't seem to support it.

In fact, I have seen evidence which seems contrary:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr01/blindness.html

To be seen on your 'bent, always make sure you're wearing a gorilla suit
*and* carrying an open parasol. One alone may not be sufficient!

Jim Wilson
Gainesville, FL
 
On Tue, 18 Dec 2007, Bob Landry <> wrote:

> A recumbent seems like a really nice idea for my 63 year old body, but
> I worry about visibility. I'm 6'4" and always wear bright colors,
> never been "buzzed" or harassed by cage drivers, but if I'm so low to
> the ground vs. the profile I have on an ATB or road bike, I'm
> concerned that I simply won't be seen by these folks in their rolling
> isolation booths.


Not a problem, in my opinion.

I cycled to work every day for a few years on a Trice XL ('eXtra Low')
tricycle. On an upright bike on the same route I reckoned on about
one incident requiring moderately severe evasive action by me per
month. On the recumbent, less than one a year. Contact was made (ie,
my evasive action was not evasive enough) about once every couple of
years on the bike, once in five years on the recumbent.

The one time I was hit, the driver clearly saw me since they pulled
out wide to overtake. Unfortunately, they didn't see the traffic
island with two illuminated bollards and 6m high streetlight on it in
the middle of the road, and faced with driving into that or driving
over me they favoured sacrificing me rather than their bodywork.

The critical issue is not whether they see you or not but whether they
notice you. On a recumbent you are very noticeable.

Obviously experiences vary, and your roads are different to mine, but
I was riding in busy commuter-belt edges of London, and the route
included a moderately complex one-way system with a number of merges
where traffic moves across one or more lanes.

I now ride an upright again, but that's not for lack of drivers seeing
me, it's more about me seeing past them. My place of work changed,
and the new journey to work is basically past 6 miles of traffic jam.
I make faster progress on an upright where I can see over or through
most cars, so can pull out of the line more than I could on the
recumbent.

regards, Ian SMith
--
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I live in Lincoln, Nebraska. My ride is a Sun Tadpole. EXTREMELY low
to the ground. I have flashing lights front and rear for the dusk and
early morning hours. During the daylight I have flags that fly high
enough to make me stand out. Have had very few problems to date. It
is possible to make yourself "stand out" if you try hard enough.


On Tue, 18 Dec 2007 12:34:28 -0700, Bob Landry
<[email protected]> wrote:

>Here in Utah (Salt Lake City and environs, to be specific) street
>traffic is dominated by full size pickups and SUVs, if not in numbers
>at least in sheer bulk and tonnage.
>A recumbent seems like a really nice idea for my 63 year old body, but
>I worry about visibility. I'm 6'4" and always wear bright colors,
>never been "buzzed" or harassed by cage drivers, but if I'm so low to
>the ground vs. the profile I have on an ATB or road bike, I'm
>concerned that I simply won't be seen by these folks in their rolling
>isolation booths.
>FWIW, this area is abysmal for bike lanes on city streets.
>
>Comments? Experiences?
>
>
>Bob
>Just another nice basic flake.
>(and old fart in training)
>
>International Pipe-raising Day, Feb. 20th
 
In alt.rec.bicycles.recumbent on Tue, 18 Dec 2007 20:39:12 GMT
Jim B. Wilson <[email protected]> wrote:
> On Tue, 18 Dec 2007 19:44:24 +0000, Zebee Johnstone wrote:
>
>> perceptual: if they physically see you, do they notice you? Do they
>> think "there's something I need to deal with"? A recumbent has the
>> "what's that?" factor which can be very good for this. Many drivers
>> filter out anything that isn't another motor vehicle, riding a bent
>> bypasses this filter.

>
> I'm sure you didn't mean this; a 'bent isn't a motor vehicle either, thus
> would be no more likely to be perceived than a normal bike.
>
> I think you meant you're more likely to be perceived because you're *not*
> on a normal bike. I've heard this rationalization repeated many times,
> but the data don't seem to support it.
>
> In fact, I have seen evidence which seems contrary:
>
> http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr01/blindness.html


I know about the gorilla thing, but it's not quite applicable.

The tasks were wildly different and the first task required a lot of
concentration on one thing.

A bicycle isn't filtered out because it's not a motor vehicle (meaning
I phrased it wrongly) but because it isn't really a threat. Neither
is a 'bent, what it is is *different*. It is still part of the task,
and the task which is "see things on the road that need to be seen" is
close enough. A normal bicycle is "thing on the road that I've seen
before and don't need to care about", a 'bent is "thing on the road I
haven't seen before, engage conscious brain".

Zebee
 
In message <[email protected]>
"Harry (Lincoln, Nebraska)" <[email protected]>
wrote:

> It
> is possible to make yourself "stand out" if you try hard enough.


I wonder whether an Amish carriage red rear triangle reflector might
be adopted to that end;

Also in UK some vehicles are fitted with mast mounted amber revolving
beacons; that sort of thing might be regarded as somewhat OTT, but if
you want to help other highway users note your presence, why not?
--
Charles
Brompton P6R-Plus; CarryFreedom -YL, in Motspur Park
LCC; CTC.
 
On Tue, 18 Dec 2007 23:23:19 GMT, [email protected]m wrote:

>In message <[email protected]>
> "Harry (Lincoln, Nebraska)" <[email protected]>
>wrote:
>
>> It
>> is possible to make yourself "stand out" if you try hard enough.

>
>I wonder whether an Amish carriage red rear triangle reflector might
>be adopted to that end;
>
>Also in UK some vehicles are fitted with mast mounted amber revolving
>beacons; that sort of thing might be regarded as somewhat OTT, but if
>you want to help other highway users note your presence, why not?


The reflector thing would be a good idea. But I am unsure about the
beacon. That could cause some handling problems unless it's extremely
lightweight. But if it's too high it may wave back and forth a bit
causing the bike to become unstable.

Here's a shot of "THE RIG" That's what folks around here have dubbed
it......

http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m279/hbrogan57/TRIKE/THERIGFirstDayOut-11192007-01-11192.jpg
 
In message <[email protected]>
"Harry (Lincoln, Nebraska)" <[email protected]>
wrote:

> But I am unsure about the
> beacon. That could cause some handling problems unless it's extremely
> lightweight. But if it's too high it may wave back and forth a bit
> causing the bike to become unstable.


> Here's a shot of "THE RIG" That's what folks around here have dubbed
> it......


Harry,

Nice photo!

you could just loop a couple of CatEye flashers to the top of your
masts!

(I'd be worried about drag on the flags and their catching on
vegetatation or passing vehicles...)

--
Charles
Brompton P6R-Plus; CarryFreedom -YL, in Motspur Park
LCC; CTC.
 
Bob Landry wrote:

> A recumbent seems like a really nice idea for my 63 year old body, but
> I worry about visibility. I'm 6'4" and always wear bright colors,
> never been "buzzed" or harassed by cage drivers, but if I'm so low to
> the ground vs. the profile I have on an ATB or road bike, I'm
> concerned that I simply won't be seen by these folks in their rolling
> isolation booths.


As others have already mentioned, you get noticed by way of being different.

But beyond that, consider how low one actually is... it will vary by
design, but on my touring bike I'm about the same height as a typical
car driver, which actually gives me better direct eye contact than on a
typical upright so i know when I've beeb seen a little better.
Something like a compact is actually higher than that, very similar to a
motor scooter in profile.

But what if you want a low trike? Well, the thing to think about here
is what you can see riding in a car. When I'm driving I can see lines
painted on the roads and potholes, both of which are a lot lower than a
lowracer 'bent. Cats, dogs, birds, rabbits etc. are no problem seeing
either (rabbits get pancaked because one minute they're not there and
then they run out under your wheels, not because you don't see them).

One needs to bear in mind in close traffic that you might be missed
/alongside/ something, but if it's a trike that's less of an issue as
one tends to be more part of the general traffic stream. For reasons of
manoeuvrability as much as anything I wouldn't want a trike in really
heavy gridlock, and a higher bike design will be easily visible. Mine
puts me higher up than a pal's Lotus Elise, and I don't think drivers of
those and similar sports cars favour them because they're invisibly low!

Finally, a note that this is the absolute #1 thing that seems to worry
folk who aren't used to recumbents, so you're not alone thinking it.
But I've never heard a seasoned 'bent rider bothered by it. In fact
rather the opposite, as you /do/ get noticed, pointed at, horns honked
and general staring which not everyone's happy with.

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 
On Wed, 19 Dec 2007 08:32:06 GMT, [email protected]m wrote:

>In message <[email protected]>
> "Harry (Lincoln, Nebraska)" <[email protected]>
>wrote:
>
>> But I am unsure about the
>> beacon. That could cause some handling problems unless it's extremely
>> lightweight. But if it's too high it may wave back and forth a bit
>> causing the bike to become unstable.

>
>> Here's a shot of "THE RIG" That's what folks around here have dubbed
>> it......

>
>Harry,
>
>Nice photo!
>
>you could just loop a couple of CatEye flashers to the top of your
>masts!
>
>(I'd be worried about drag on the flags and their catching on
>vegetatation or passing vehicles...)



I do get a little drag while riding from the flags. On "normal" days
it's not a problem. But on some windy days I remove them and strap
them down as they cause too much drag.

The CatEye thing is a GREAT idea. I am going to give that one a try.
Think I'll try using those small flashers that joggers sometimes wear.
Those look small and light enough that they wouldn't cause the pole to
bend too much.
 
Here in Texas, the school buses have collision avoidance lights (a big
white strobe lights) on top. You really know the bus is there from a
long way off. I've been looking for a small, light, battery strobe
for my trike but haven't found one yet on the internet. Anyone know of
one?
Mike

On Tue, 18 Dec 2007 12:34:28 -0700, Bob Landry
<[email protected]> wrote:

>Here in Utah (Salt Lake City and environs, to be specific) street
>traffic is dominated by full size pickups and SUVs, if not in numbers
>at least in sheer bulk and tonnage.
>A recumbent seems like a really nice idea for my 63 year old body, but
>I worry about visibility. I'm 6'4" and always wear bright colors,
>never been "buzzed" or harassed by cage drivers, but if I'm so low to
>the ground vs. the profile I have on an ATB or road bike, I'm
>concerned that I simply won't be seen by these folks in their rolling
>isolation booths.
>FWIW, this area is abysmal for bike lanes on city streets.
>
>Comments? Experiences?
>
>
>Bob
>Just another nice basic flake.
>(and old fart in training)
>
>International Pipe-raising Day, Feb. 20th
 
"Bob Landry" <[email protected]> wrote
>
> A recumbent seems like a really nice idea for my 63 year old body


Ideas are good. Action is better. %^)

The only way you will know whether a recumbent is comfortable
for you and whether you'll feel comfortable riding it where you
want is to try it. Actually, try as many different ones as you can!

Almost certainly, some recumbent models/designs may be a
better choice for you:

- Do you ride mainly for exercise?
- Do you use a bike to do errands/shopping?
- Do you want to do long day trips?
- Ride with groups?
- Race?
- Stay on the road?
- Stay off the road?
- Etc...

> I worry about visibility.


There are two aspects of visibility: *seeing*, and *being seen*.
In my recumbent experience, neither of these is really more
of issue for recumbent riders vs. upright. The head's up,
if not quite head as high up, position of recumbent riders
may make seeing somewhat easier.

I don't have experience in high-traffic urban business district
riding, but in 10 years of suburban, rural, and touring on
recumbents, I have not found the visibility issues *any
different* from those of upright bike riders. How much
of an upright rider is visible beside an SUV? How well
can an upright rider see over a pickup, or even a minivan?

Yes, there are height differences between upright bikes
and recumbents,-- and height differences among recumbent
models. But except for very low recumbent models, the
difference is less than you may think.

The things you do to see and be seen and cycle effectively on an
upright bike are the same things you do on a recumbent.

> FWIW, this area is abysmal for bike lanes on city streets.


That's good, or bad, depending on varying implementations... %^)
Many argue that bike lanes as implemented in many places
create potentially more dangerous vehicle/bike crossing points.

Jon
 
On Wed, 19 Dec 2007 04:42:28 -0600, Mike Fox <[email protected]>
wrote:

>Here in Texas, the school buses have collision avoidance lights (a big
>white strobe lights) on top. You really know the bus is there from a
>long way off. I've been looking for a small, light, battery strobe
>for my trike but haven't found one yet on the internet. Anyone know of
>one?
>Mike
>




Here's something to consider. I stopped in a auto parts store
recently. They had some of those fancy LED strobe for cars on
display. They had a button you could push so they would light up and
flash to give an idea of how they would look.

One of the salespeople there got a little curious when I told him what
I wanted to put it on. So we opened a package and these were powered
by about ten watch batteries. Perhaps this might work for lighting
effects. I haven't tried it as yet but will probably get a set in the
next couple of weeks and see what happens.

These are for use of the outside of a vehicle so I am guessing that
they are weather resistant.

Anyone else try or heard of anything like this????
 
Here are a few shots of what I currently ride and some of the things I
have done to help be seen in traffic. Yes I do stand out and that's
what I am striving for. I figure that the more I can be "different"
out there I have a better chance of being noticed as people may WANT
to look and see what the hell that is!!!!!!!!!!

http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh160/1957trike/The Rig/TheRigMeAtAPark-11252007-04-1209200.jpg

http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh160/1957trike/The Rig/TheRigMeAtAPark-11252007-06-1209200.jpg

http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh160/1957trike/The Rig/THERIGFirstDayOut-11192007-01-12092.jpg

http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh160/1957trike/The Rig/THERIGFirstDayOut-11192007-03-12092.jpg
 
"Zebee Johnstone" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> In alt.rec.bicycles.recumbent on Tue, 18 Dec 2007 20:39:12 GMT
> Jim B. Wilson <[email protected]> wrote:
>> On Tue, 18 Dec 2007 19:44:24 +0000, Zebee Johnstone wrote:
>>
>>> perceptual: if they physically see you, do they notice you? Do they
>>> think "there's something I need to deal with"? A recumbent has the
>>> "what's that?" factor which can be very good for this. Many drivers
>>> filter out anything that isn't another motor vehicle, riding a bent
>>> bypasses this filter.

>>
>> I'm sure you didn't mean this; a 'bent isn't a motor vehicle either, thus
>> would be no more likely to be perceived than a normal bike.
>>
>> I think you meant you're more likely to be perceived because you're *not*
>> on a normal bike. I've heard this rationalization repeated many times,
>> but the data don't seem to support it.
>>
>> In fact, I have seen evidence which seems contrary:
>>
>> http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr01/blindness.html

>
> I know about the gorilla thing, but it's not quite applicable.
>
> The tasks were wildly different and the first task required a lot of
> concentration on one thing.
>
> A bicycle isn't filtered out because it's not a motor vehicle (meaning
> I phrased it wrongly) but because it isn't really a threat. Neither
> is a 'bent, what it is is *different*. It is still part of the task,
> and the task which is "see things on the road that need to be seen" is
> close enough. A normal bicycle is "thing on the road that I've seen
> before and don't need to care about", a 'bent is "thing on the road I
> haven't seen before, engage conscious brain".
>


This kind of logic is very misleading, IMO.

How many people really think "this thing on the road that I've seen before
and don't need to care about" even on a subconcious level (which is what I
think you meant)? Most people don't wish to kill anyone, even a squirrel.
Their mental subroutines react according to that fact. By your logic, riding
a DF, walking, or running, makes you less safe.

Logic and safety are two different things. The best you can do with logic
is figure out those things which are likely to keep you safe. The rest is
making due effort to be seen, proper lane position, not doing unexpected or
dangerous things, and luck.
 
Mike Fox wrote:
> Here in Texas, the school buses have collision avoidance lights (a big
> white strobe lights) on top. You really know the bus is there from a
> long way off. I've been looking for a small, light, battery strobe
> for my trike but haven't found one yet on the internet. Anyone know of
> one?
> Mike
>


I don't know the details--but I know there are small wearable strobe
lights used for boating safety. They are battery-powered, go for a
number of hours on one set of batteries and they are pretty bright--they
use a xenon tube, not a LED or filament bulb.
~
 
Bob Landry wrote:
> ....
> A recumbent seems like a really nice idea for my 63 year old body, but
> I worry about visibility. I'm 6'4" and always wear bright colors,
> never been "buzzed" or harassed by cage drivers, but if I'm so low to
> the ground vs. the profile I have on an ATB or road bike, I'm
> concerned that I simply won't be seen by these folks in their rolling
> isolation booths.
> FWIW, this area is abysmal for bike lanes on city streets.
>
> Comments? Experiences?
>
>


My advice:
use a rear-view mirror,
don't be afraid to get in the traffic lane, and
*always* beware of people turning right without looking first.

The third bit above is how I have almost been "turned over" several times.

When I am in town, /every/ time I pull up to a stoplight or traffic
signal that's red, I ALWAYS get into the traffic lane so that people in
cars behind me ALWAYS have to wait for me to get across the intersection
before they can turn.
~
 
On Wed, 19 Dec 2007 11:54:37 -0500, Roger Zoul <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> "Zebee Johnstone" <[email protected]> wrote in message
> news:[email protected]...
> >
> > A bicycle isn't filtered out because it's not a motor vehicle
> > (meaning I phrased it wrongly) but because it isn't really a
> > threat. Neither is a 'bent, what it is is *different*. It is
> > still part of the task, and the task which is "see things on the
> > road that need to be seen" is close enough. A normal bicycle is
> > "thing on the road that I've seen before and don't need to care
> > about", a 'bent is "thing on the road I haven't seen before,
> > engage conscious brain".

>
> This kind of logic is very misleading, IMO.


No, it precisely matches the observed phenomena.

> How many people really think "this thing on the road that I've seen
> before and don't need to care about" even on a subconcious level
> (which is what I think you meant)?


Most drivers, according to my observations - they just don't think
about bicycles - they see them as something on a par with bollards and
then apparently get surprised to discover that the bicycle is moving,
or cannot necessarily be overtaken without colliding with oncoming
traffic.

> Most people don't wish to kill anyone, even a squirrel. Their
> mental subroutines react according to that fact.


Indeed, but the problem is they simply don't comprehend that their
actions might kill someone - their brain filters out bikes and ignores
them. They don't want to kill a cyclist but it simply doesn't occur
to them that they might.

> By your logic, riding a DF, walking, or running, makes you less
> safe.


It does. Riding a DF is _much_ less safe than riding a recumbent.
You apparently get filtered out _much_ more often, and cars do dumb
things around you _much_ more often on a DF than on a recumbent.

regards, Ian SMith
--
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