Do you REALLY look?

  Friday's Child 14:03 17 Mar 2007

On another thread a member said that the words that annoy him are "How close does a biker have to be before you see THEM?"

These are taken from a road safety advert.
The reason is that most car drivers do not seem able to ‘see’ cyclists and motor-cyclists at all.
Today was an extreme example. In a ride of an hour and a half I had to take avoiding action three times because of this (it is not unusual to take avoiding action once on a ride).
First I was centrally placed in the outside lane of a dual carriageway doing about 40 mph when a car driver decided to pull out about 25 feet in front of me – he jumped somewhat and pulled back in when my horn sounded.
Then a driver pulled out from a side road almost under my front wheel - when my horn sounded he stopped which let me through.
The last was again on a dual carriageway when I was in the centre of the inner lane and a nutter came rushing up in the outside lane, realised that he needed to be in the inner lane and almost smashed into the side of me because he thought the gap was empty.

It is true that there are stupid motorcyclists (not as many as people believe, they just don’t notice the others) but this does not apply to all of us.
I ride a bike because I like the freedom and it makes a change from driving the car and am both an advanced motorist and an advanced motorcyclist who takes regular courses to keep up to spec. I ride a physically large bike (a Pan European like the ones used by many Police Forces) which is silver (the white ones are normally only available to the Police), ride with my headlight dipped and wear a white helmet and Hi-Vis vest –they still don’t see me.

If the advert does not make people more aware, perhaps thinking about the possible consequences to them might:
My motorbike together with the top-box, security chain, disk locks and fuel weighs 750-800 lbs.
I weigh 11 1/2 stone but leathers, helmet, boots and gloves etc. increase this by 4-5 stone (if you do not believe that pick up a motorbike jacket and hold it one handed at arm’s length).
Together that comes to about 1,000 lbs.
If I manage to reduce speed enough, and if you are too close I might not - particularly on a damp road, I might reach you at about 15 mph (22 fps).
The energy in an object is speed x speed x mass (22x22x1,000) ie 484,000 ft lbs.
My front tyre is about 5 ins wide and you are not likely to see more than a foot of its height in contact with something at that speed before it bursts so that if I hit you there will be no more that 60 square inches in contact ie 8,000 lbs psi.

If I cannot stop my options are:
Go round in front of you – I have to be sure that you are not going to move again before I do that and if it means crossing into the oncoming traffic - I do not want to die.
Go behind you – If you are completely clear of anything this might be possible but the situation is unlikely because I need at least 6 feet of width to do so safely and if I lose control I could go onto the pavement and endanger pedestrians.
Drop the bike – This puts the bike and myself sliding on the road. Depending on how it hits you it can bounce up and back – would you want that landing on you?
Hit you square on. If I do I am likely to have the choice of hitting the engine/bonnet area which gives a good chance of the bike somersaulting over the top after me – I still do not want that landing on me – or your driver’s door where the height of the vehicle will allow me to roll over the top and still stop the bike following.
If I do hit your door, you have all that pressure on the panel (not the sill which is below the centre of my wheel) and the bike is likely to start to cartwheel. It is likely to be stopped when the headstock (where the handlebars are attached to the frame – a very strong piece of steel) smashes into the driver’s window covering said driver with glass. Oh and by the way, the fuel tank is just behind the headstock and the fuel cap is not designed to withstand that sort of impact so there is likely to be half a gallon of petrol shot into the vehicle and over the bike’s electrics! I leave the result of this to your imagination.

My life is more important to me than that of a careless driver so you will be able to guess my likely decision.

Please do pay attention to the advert and look carefully for cyclists, motorbikers and pedestrians - it may be me that is approaching.

Sorry for the length of this and thank you for reading if you got this far.

  Watchful 14:32 17 Mar 2007

We always pay close attention to cyclists and horse-riders. It goes without saying that pedestrians need watching, especially when they jay-walk in the evening light.

Some motorists are very cavalier with pedestrians, especially when they are reversing out of areas around schools.

  Kate B 14:34 17 Mar 2007

Don't get me started on motorists who don't indicate if there are only pedestrians about. How am I supposed to know you're turning left into the road I'm crossing if you don't indicate??? And oh, by the way: I'm a pedestrian and if I'm already on the road you want to turn into, it's my right of way.


  Watchful 14:39 17 Mar 2007

Exactly, I have narrowly missed being knocked down by reversing cars, not indicating, whilst walking on the pavement.

  Bingalau 15:06 17 Mar 2007

Kate B. I always tell my friends that pedestrians were invented before vehicles. Therefore they have first choice of who uses the roads etc. Sounds a bit Irish I know but it is St. Patrick's day.

  namtas 15:08 17 Mar 2007

I think you are correct and I offer this as a reply as to why the situation arises.

I have been a motorcyclist a cycle rider as well as a car/lorry driver. I believe that their are two issues, If there is a blind spot when viewing left or right from a car or truck it is more likely to be a problem to a motor cyclist due the relatively narrow view profile of the motor cycle, and if the motor cyclist just happens to be in the blind spot area at the time it can spell disaster, It can happen where a car is blind also, but less likely I believe because of it bulk. The second reason is that even although the motorist looks right or left, in wrong or poor condition of light, background etc motorcyclist are not seen. whether it is because the motorist is not in full concentration I don’t know, but it can happen. That is why I think that all motor cyclist should always travel with dipped headlights, wear high visibility clothing and treat every car that they meet at a junction as a idiot who is looking to kill them.

  provider 2 15:25 17 Mar 2007

This is very interesting and, of course, I fully understand these concerns.

However, the point I was trying to make (however briefly) was to do with grammar. By that I mean "a biker" cannot be represented by "them" in the same sentence. It is a common error and strictly speaking changes the meaning of the statement.

  Friday's Child 15:33 17 Mar 2007

Nicely put but I do not think that the main reason is blind spots (except perhaps in their eyes).
As I say, I have a large bike, ride on dipped lights, have a white helmet and hi-Vis vest and they still do not see me. It certainly cannot have been a blind spot with the third clot this morning, because I was infront of him.
I think that most of the time, the real reason is that motorists recognise the danger from cars, busses, LGVs etc and concentrate on them so much that they fail to see anything smaller.
As an advanced motorist/rider, I can assure you that I regard not only all the cars that I meet as being 'controlled' by idiots but also all motorbikes. :-)

  Friday's Child 15:35 17 Mar 2007

I wasn't trying to get at you and apologise if that is the impression that I have given.
I am just trying to make people more aware of the dangers to us all on the roads.

  provider 2 15:43 17 Mar 2007

Understood, Friday`s Child. On the previous thread the subject was words that annoy and my comment was related strictly to that suject.

It`s just that I seem to notice so many grammatical errors these days that while cringing at the grammar I sometimes miss the point of what is being said!

  provider 2 15:56 17 Mar 2007

Another one (among many) is the BT announcement: "The caller withheld THEIR number". Whose number? Is the caller more than one person? I really should get out more!

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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