Jim Dodson: How'd you like to reduce your chance of being hit by a car on your bike by 50% at least?
Hi, I'm Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. Today we're gonna talk about visibility, and I'm a big proponent of high visibility on the bike.
One of the things that we're gonna go over is there's the reminder to all of us, I think, that drivers are not looking for us. Drivers are looking for things that are a danger to them. The problem for cyclists, that means that we have to separate ourselves from the clutter of background that the driver's looking at and looking through. And bear in mind they're always looking for an approaching vehicle, they're never looking for an approaching cyclist.
One of the statistics I found recently is that cyclists, we believe that we're more visible than we are. But the shocking thing is that we believe that by about 700%. So cyclists are grossly over estimating our ability to be seen by an approaching driver. We think we're there, we're highly visible, we're moving, and they see us, but the fact is they're not, because in our practice everyday I talk to someone, and the first thing the driver said after a crash was I never saw them. And they might not have ever seen them because they're not quite looking for us. So what we need to do is to create contrast between ourselves and the surrounding background. And how do we do that? We do that with high visibility clothing.
There is a study that was done in Denmark and they have a high proportion of cyclists over there, it's a great place to study cycling and driver behavior. This was really one of the most eye-opening studies I've seen, it came out last year, and it was that they did a test for a year with thousands of cyclists wearing high visibility fluorescent jackets, and something like this. So this is a kind of a winter jacket we might wear here, high visibility fluorescent yellow. And they found that when cyclists wore high visibility fluorescent colored jackets they reduced their chances of having any collision by 50%. And that would be collisions against pedestrians, against other cyclists, and against motorists. And that's a really staggering figure, 50%. And the interesting thing about that study is it was all upper body. We're gonna talk about somethings that will even in my view increase the odds of being seen by taking some enhancements to places other than our jersey.
I'm wearing the, can't get the camera up here, this is the Jim Dodson Law jersey, we give this away every time we do a speaking engagement, we give them away every time we have a public event, and if you're ever at an event where we're setup, come over and register and we give at least one of these away every time we get together.
So bear in mind, so why is this visibility issue so important? One of the most kinda prominent crash features that we see in our practice everyday, that's the left hook, the right hook, and the kind of just a general failure to yield the right of way. And why is that? So remember that a driver is approaching, let's say they're coming the opposite direction that you're coming, you're cruising along in the bike lane, the driver's coming in the opposite direction, there's a shopping plaza on your right, they wanna turn left to go into that plaza, they're scanning for cars coming in the lane ahead, which would be not the lane you're in, but the lane next to you, and they make a split second decision frequently to execute that left turn. You need to standout. If you're cruising along in a dark kit, you've got a dark shirt, you've got dark pants on, it's daylight, you may think you standout but you don't. So the driver's looking ahead, he's making a split second decision, they execute the left turn and oops, by God, there's a cyclist there.
Same thing happens when they're turning right, or generally trying to change lanes, coming out from an intersection. What's the thing that we see all the time? I just talked to this woman yesterday. They're in the bike lane going in a certain direction, car's coming from a stop sign perpendicular to them. Where's the car looking? They're looking in the lane of the direction of travel closest to them, which is the opposite side from where the cyclist is coming. They're looking, looking, looking, and they go without looking back to see if someone's coming from the opposite direction.
So my point is that we need to take steps in my view to increase the odds of standing out, creating contrast, standing out against the background to increase the likelihood that in that split second decision a driver's gonna see you before they act or they move.
Remember that 50% of crashes occur involving cyclists on a straight road. That's really hard to believe. Straight road could be the one where the cyclist is going straight but the car is turning, but it also is those situations where the car is coming from behind you, and they still need to have high visibility in order to pick you out from the surroundings.
There is this thing in engineering called reaction and perception time. If we're operating a vehicle, and you see something that you feel you need to take action, it takes a second and a half on average, some people are slower, a few people are faster. But on the average about a second and a half for someone to perceive something and engage the brain, engage the foot, engage the hand, turn the wheel, hit the brake. You have a second and a half, and that vehicle's traveling at whatever speed they're going, 30 miles an hour, 40 miles an hour, 50 feet a second, 60 feet a second. That second and a half that vehicle may go 80 or 90 feet, even if they see you, to react to you.
And what happens when a vehicle and the operator of the vehicle is distracted, they're opening their cell phone which takes four seconds to open an iPhone, or they're checkin' directions on their cell phone, or they're doing anything that takes their eyes off the road for another two seconds. Another 100 feet that car may have traveled. So between them being distracted and them having perception reaction time, that car could easily travel 100 or 150 feet. The point of all that is we need to standout. We need to be seen. And I'm all about just increasing the likelihood that this vehicle's gonna see you.
So I've got some things that I use personally when I ride that I think are operating to try to cut that advantage a little bit more in our favor. This is a Giro helmet. It's the most visibility that I could find. There are some I think that are solid neon fluorescent. I think that's a great thing. These are arm warmers. I wear these year round. I've lived in Florida all my life, I don't need any more sun on my arms. These things really are high visibility. I wear them, they go from your wrist to your where your jersey meets, and just increase the visibility, the surface factor of having that fluorescent yellow in my view visible to the driver. Here are some long fingered gloves. I use short fingered everyday of the year. These are for the winter. Again they've got visibility on the hands. You can get these in short gloves as well. And these are socks. I always wear high visibility socks. I don't have neon shoes yet. But that's one thing that I need to get. And we're gonna talk about why that's important. I've got a variety of jackets. I've got rain jackets for the summer, carry this with you or a warmer jacket in the winter. All of these are fluorescent yellow for a reason.
In the study of fluorescents, they are seen about 200% more and they're seen from two or three times greater distance by drivers. And there really isn't a difference from what I've been told between yellow or orange or some of the other greens that equally standout. So most of these are Pearl Izumi, as a matter of fact all of the arm warmer, the socks, the gloves, they're all Pearl Izumi. I'm sure there're other brands out there. These are things that when I visit a bike shop, if I find something I like, I buy it. Just because you never know, it's not that easy to find this stuff. I think that we need to really create more demand for it and people will be stocking it in their bike shops more readily.
So I hope you're enjoying what I'm saying and I bring this message to you because as I cyclist myself and as a safety advocate, I'm always wanting to raise the bar in terms of what we can do proactively to help ourselves to minimize the chance of being hit. Being hit is, it's just not good. It gets you off the bike, It's just a horrible experience to go through for a variety of reasons.
I tell you one of the most frequent questions, I had this come up yesterday and I thought I'd just bring it up to you. We have a number of calls from people who have their bike get destroyed for a variety of reasons. If you have your bike gets destroyed and it's a homeowner's claim against the person that did it, or you have a situation where you ride into a pole, or you ride into a parked car, how do you replace your frame? There's no insurance on your homeowner's policy for that typically. How do you replace your frame? And I talk about Velosurance quite a bit, v-e-l-o-s-u-r-a-n-c-e. They're located in Florida but they insure bikes across the country. Dave Williams is down in South Florida and when he's not in Colorado, I think. But I don't get any consideration for talking about their product. They don't do anything to promote us. I just believe that it's the only thing that I'm personally aware of that will give us the ability to replace our bike if your bike gets destroyed. You pay a deductible that you setup when you get the insurance, $150, $200, $300, and they replace the bike. It's pretty simple. So if you wanna protect your bike especially those of you out there riding these expensive bikes. I meet a lot of people who have $12,000, $14,000 bikes that get destroyed and they have no insurance on 'em because they simply didn't know. So I hope that's helpful to you.
If I can ever be of help to you following your crash, you have any questions about cycling or insurance or coverage I'm only a phone call away. So just go to jimdodsonlaw.com or the floridabikeguy.com and I'll be happy to talk to you.
So let's talk about the issue of biomotion. And looking at this topic I've found that the human eye and our brain are really designed to pick up motion in addition to seeing something that's static, and by that I mean we need to be seen as a human, as a person on a bicycle, so that there's a difference between recognizing something and reacting to it. People need to recognize when they glance at us, when they make these split second decisions driving the car that we are a human on a bicycle, because that's going to determine how they react. And we need to increase the likelihood they see us as a human on a bicycle and react properly by avoiding, or stopping, or whatever they need to do under the circumstances. So how do you do that? Well one of the ways is you use these fluorescent colors I've talked about, and you put it on your body in places where the person recognizes that you are moving. And where are those places? They're your feet, your ankles, your lower leg, your knees.
Because what happens is, hey Harris, thank you very much. Harris is saying this video needs to be required viewing by every bike club. I appreciate the comment.
So when you put fluorescent colors on your knees and on your lower legs and then you're moving down the road, that creates a totally different perception for a driver than someone who's just statically wearing some neon on their body somewhere. And bear in mind you really need a lot of neon to be seen. The standard that the Federal government uses for highway workers is they have to have like a 12" by 15" patch of neon on these warning vests that they wear, in order to be recognized by cars. So it doesn't help to have a little bit of neon on, you want it all over your jersey, you want it all over your jacket, you want it everywhere you can get it, to try to increase the odds that you'll be seen.
Hey Kathy, thanks so much. Appreciate the heads up on how important you think this topic is.
So when you put those colors below the waist on your bike, you're gonna increase the odds, I don't even have a study to support this, but you're gonna increase the odds that that biomotion is going to be perceived by the driver so that they recognize who and what you are.
There's another issue about lighting and I talk about this frequently, and we've done other programs on it. We all need to run with a daylight headlight. There's a lot of controversy, I think, and misunderstanding by people. I've done a program on headlights before, a lot of misunderstanding about lumens. The issue with a headlight is that it needs to be concentrated and it needs to be perceived at least hundreds and hundreds of yards away from where you are. I'm always opting for the brightest optical light that I can get with the most concentrated beam. And during the day you want your headlight to flash. A flashing light attracts the driver's attention more readily than a steady beam.
You also want a rear facing tail light. I run with at least two when I ride. And I'm gonna give you one other piece of advice about that. I think my biggest concern and maybe pet peeve about brake lights or tail lights, I see people that have a light on their bike, or they're wearing a light on their helmet, but I'm standing close to them at an event, and I can barely determine if it's even flashing. So that light's gotta be seen by a driver who's trying to make a split second decision about what you are and where you are, you need to have that at least visible 400 yards behind you. So you need a bright flashing tail light at least one.
And we're gonna offer a resource at the end of our talk today on some of the lights, we've tested some headlights and we've tested some tail lights. And I've done a program on it. You'll see it on our Facebook Live page, but I'm gonna make this resource available to you at the end of our program.
But it's also going along with the 50% issue about being seen, there's another study in Denmark that I have seen that says that using lights during the day increases that margin as well by 50%. I've seen prior studies that showed it at 20%, but I had a recent study that showed it much, much higher at 50%. So strong day light running light flashing, strong daylight tail light flashing.
And one other step, there's new information on this whole issue of biomotion that if we put a tail light on our ankles, facing the rear that increases the likelihood of this biomotion recognizing that's a brake light, what is that? You want something that's going to attract the driver's attention from all the background to you and say oh my god, that's a person on a bike. So you can put a tail light, and it's recommended by the resources that I was looking at, put this tail light on your ankle, facing the rear, same thing bright flashing.
I had a question recently I wrote about this and someone asked me do I have a resource for it, and unfortunately I really don't. So I'm calling on everyone out there, if you have a resource for a rear facing tail light it will go on our ankles, the only way I know to do it is to take a tail light and kinda use the VELCRO system to put it on. But there must be one out there that's manufactured for that purpose. So I'd love for you to let us know what it is and we'll put it on the air. We'll put it out through our system and let people know as quickly as we can.
So I hope that this information has been helpful to you. My hope for everyone is that we enjoy our sport. I have a passion for representing cyclists, but I also have a passion for helping cyclists stay out of trouble before they ever need our help. And go to the bit.ly link that Kati has on the screen there and get our report on tail lights and headlights, and we'll make that available for you if you just request it. It's bit.ly/IncreaseYourVisibility.
So it's Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy. Be safe out there. If I can ever help you let me know. Have a good day.
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