High viz clothing makes no difference to overtaking distances

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  • High viz clothing makes no difference to overtaking distances
  • Premier Icon miketually
    Subscriber

    Thought people on here might be interested in this, given recent discussions:

    The influence of a bicycle commuter’s appearance on drivers’ overtaking proximities: An on-road test of bicyclist stereotypes, high-visibility clothing and safety aids in the United Kingdom

    This study looked at whether drivers overtaking a bicyclist changed the proximities of their passes in response to the level of experience and skill signalled by the bicyclist’s appearance.

    Five outfits were tested, ranging from a stereotypical sport rider’s outfit, portraying high experience and skill, to a vest with ‘novice cyclist’ printed on the back, portraying low experience. A high-visibility bicycling jacket was also used, as were two commercially available safety vests, one featuring a prominent mention of the word ‘police’ and a warning that the rider was video-recording their journey, and one modelled after a police officer’s jacket but with a letter changed so it read ‘POLITE’.

    An ultrasonic distance sensor recorded the space left by vehicles passing the bicyclist on a regular commuting route. 5690 data points fulfilled the criteria for the study and were included in the analyses.

    The only outfit associated with a significant change in mean passing proximities was the police/video-recording jacket. Contrary to predictions, drivers treated the sports outfit and the ‘novice cyclist’ outfit equivalently, suggesting they do not adjust overtaking proximity as a function of a rider’s perceived experience.

    Notably, whilst some outfits seemed to discourage motorists from passing within 1 metre of the rider, approximately 1-2% of overtakes came within 50 cm no matter what outfit was worn. This suggests there is little riders can do, by altering their appearance, to prevent the very closest overtakes; it is suggested that infrastructural, educational or legal measures are more promising for preventing drivers from passing extremely close to bicyclists.

    Premier Icon MSP
    Subscriber

    It’s not about how close the drivers who see you pass, it’s about either being seen or being splattered all over the road.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
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    MonkeySpacePilot wrote:

    It’s not about how close the drivers who see you pass, it’s about either being seen or being splattered all over the road.

    +1

    brakes
    Member

    that is quite interesting 😀
    I’ve been experimenting myself and if I sense an undue or dangerous overtake from a car behind, I firmly put my right hand out and down at 45 degrees with my palm facing the car and look over my shoulder (not at them but so they can see my face a bit).
    seems to work quite well. but makes me look like a bit of a bell-end…

    ninfan
    Member

    Doesn’t this piss on the chips of the research that showed drivers pass closer if the rider is wearing a helmet?

    another domino falls on the ‘reasons not to wear a helmet’ list 8)

    glasgowdan
    Member

    I learn to ride out in lane when I hear a car approaching and then pull in a foot or two as it’s about to pass. This gives you at least another 2ft of life space.

    toonfan
    Member

    As long as they pass me and don’t hit me i’m happy!!

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    Doesn’t this piss on the chips of the research that showed drivers pass closer if the rider is wearing a helmet?

    No, it just shows further or different studies may not agree with earlier studies. He also tested a wig and results showed women may get more space than men I think?
    My perception is that riding in lycra and a lid gets me buzzed more per mile (within the 5 mile radius of home where both bikes get overlapping use) than on my town bike wearing civvies and no lid.
    If really you want space on the road, dress your bike up as a horse.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    it’s about either being seen or being splattered all over the road.

    -1

    Is there research to compare number of cyclists wearing hi-viz being splattered, to number not wearing it being splattered?

    mattsccm
    Member

    I sort of disagree with the top posts. I actually reckon that most of the time the near misses I have had are not because I wasn’t seen but were the result of stupid and selfish overtaking. Not entirely but very often.

    Not quite what you are looking for dezb but interesting ref’ visibility

    What an RAF pilot can teach us about being safe on the road

    Premier Icon kcal
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    not seen =/= selfishly squeezing past IMO & IME.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    I read an article about segregated transport recently where they cited a reoprt that said the vast majority of cyclists hurt in collisions were at junctions and being hit from the rear was a very small percentage. Sure it’s likely to be a bad accident if you’re hit from behind but our perception of the danger in that situation may be higher than reality, probably from being overtaken uncomfortably close regularly by drivers who’d say 2ft space is fine, a ‘clear miss’. (all this is assuming you’re not on a drizzly DC at twilight wearing dark grey clothing and no lights etc)

    mrmo
    Member

    It’s not about how close the drivers who see you pass, it’s about either being seen or being splattered all over the road.

    is it though, what happens if you hit a pot hole etc. Law is quite clear on this, cyclists are entitled to wobble room.

    All this is saying is that the drivers don’t give a ****, they will overtake regardless. Only solution is the police to do their job!

    Doesn’t this piss on the chips of the research that showed drivers pass closer if the rider is wearing a helmet?

    another domino falls on the ‘reasons not to wear a helmet’ list

    This is not a helmet debate, so please try not to bring this ***ing *******s into it!!!

    Premier Icon miketually
    Subscriber

    My perception is that riding in lycra and a lid gets me buzzed more per mile (within the 5 mile radius of home where both bikes get overlapping use) than on my town bike wearing civvies and no lid.

    He’s mentioned on Twitter that his next study is looking at the difference between perceived and actual passing distance.

    mrmo
    Member

    Drivers responded to a ‘police’ vest which suggested the journey was being videoed.

    hmm, so the car drivers only bother with a safe pass if they think you are a police officer…

    So drivers do see you, they just can’t be arsed to pass safely!

    Premier Icon MSP
    Subscriber

    is it though, what happens if you hit a pot hole etc. Law is quite clear on this, cyclists are entitled to wobble room.

    Yes it is, the whole point of high viz is to be seen, educating drivers to give cyclists more room is a completely different matter.

    Premier Icon miketually
    Subscriber

    I probably shouldn’t have put high viz in the title. What was most interesting to me was:

    Contrary to predictions, drivers treated the sports outfit and the ‘novice cyclist’ outfit equivalently, suggesting they do not adjust overtaking proximity as a function of a rider’s perceived experience.

    My perception, which echoes those above, is that I get more space when on a more upright bike in ‘human’ clothes than when on a ‘proper’ bike dressed as a cyclist, but this study seems to show that my perception is wrong.

    Premier Icon MSP
    Subscriber

    I thought the interesting thing was that the gave the rider they perceived to be a police officer most room, shows that they are more concerned with getting caught than the damage their recklessness may cause. Also kind of reinforces the theory that it is not the level of punishment/cost that matters, but the probability of being caught.

    mrmo
    Member

    Yes it is, the whole point of high viz is to be seen, educating drivers to give cyclists more room is a completely different matter.

    thing is that they do see you, what you wear is irrelevant, unless they think you are a police officer.

    Yes education is the answer, but who is going to do it?

    Premier Icon MSP
    Subscriber

    Basically the whole premiss of the study is crap, cycling clothing is never going to make car drivers give us more room, it can however be the difference between being seen or not seen.

    They have drawn a theoretical direct correlation between what a cyclist wears and passing distance that just doesn’t exist. It’s ice cream sales and murder rates.

    hjghg5
    Member

    I almost always wear pink and my rather anecdotal experience is that it seems to make more of a difference than hi viz alone because I look more female (I am, by the way…). Most but not all of my pink kit is hi viz but even the non hi viz stuff seems to give me more room and fewer angry gestures than hi viz yellow.

    Mind you, I was wearing hi viz pink the time I went over a car so it’s not perfect….

    mrmo
    Member

    Basically the whole premiss of the study is crap, cycling clothing is never going to make car drivers give us more room, it can however be the difference between being seen or not seen.

    so why is it crap then?

    If they read police they give more room? so the flaw

    as for murders and ice creams, riots are statistically more common in hot weather…

    Premier Icon GrahamS
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    Doesn’t this piss on the chips of the research that showed drivers pass closer if the rider is wearing a helmet?

    Same bloke: Ian Walker.

    And no, it doesn’t.

    winston_dog
    Member

    I was on a dual carriageway today,in daylight, road bike, flashing led rear light. I normally avoid but it linked up to some quiet lanes for a good blast.

    It wasn’t busy but very few vehicles moved over to the right by more than what was necessary to avoid actually hitting me. The larger the vehicle the worse they seemed. It was **** awful and I’m glad it was for less than 1km.

    Ignorant feckers.

    Premier Icon MSP
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    so why is it crap then?

    If they read police they give more room? so the flaw

    as for murders and ice creams, riots are statistically more common in hot weather…

    It’s like saying the colour of a car affects how other drivers pass it based on how they drive when there is a police car around, it is a ridiculous premiss.

    And ice creams and murders are not cause and effect, that’s what the well known quote means 🙄

    Premier Icon miketually
    Subscriber

    They have drawn a theoretical direct correlation between what a cyclist wears and passing distance that just doesn’t exist.

    No, they’ve shown that there is no correlation between what the cyclist is wearing and passing distance (apart from in one specific case), which dispels the general opinion that experienced-looking proper cyclists get less room while people in normal clothes get more.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    Not quite what you are looking for dezb

    FTFY

    IanMunro
    Member

    Is there research to compare number of cyclists wearing hi-viz being splattered, to number not wearing it being splattered?

    I dunno, but if there was it might be harder than you might first think to draw conclusions from it.

    For the sake of argument let’s say that such a survey shows that you find that that 10% of riders who get splattered wear hi-viz.
    So at the most dumbest people might draw the conclusion that you’d be better off wearing hi-viz.
    Of-course no-one would do a survey along those lines without also collecting the percentage of people who wear hi-viz (after-all 10% isn’t a good number if only 5% wear it).
    This measurement in itself is further complicated as you can’t assume that that geographical usage of hi-viz matches that of where the accidents happen.
    One approach might be to record the hi-viz wearing percentage at areas where an accident has happened. But the very fact that an accident has happened may alter people’s choices on wearing hi-viz.

    Lastly assuming that we’ve come up with a method that accurately measures how many people wear hi-viz, how many don’t and what the relative splatter rates are, it still won’t tell you anything useful as it assumes that the choice of wearing hi-viz is independent of personalty type. The odds are that one’s choice to wear hi-viz is very much related to one’s perception of risk and that person’s perception of risk will also change their chance of being splattered (though in which direction isn’t necessarily intuitive).

    So in short, it’s complicated 🙂

    mrmo
    Member

    It’s like saying the colour of a car affects how other drivers pass it based on how they drive when there is a police car around, it is a ridiculous premiss.

    perfectly sensible premiss, what you wear is of no importance to how a driver treats you. But that they give police more room means they are spotting the cyclists, they just don’t care. They also know they should give more room but don’t care.

    Premier Icon imnotverygood
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    By the way, the difference in average distance between ‘Police’ and everything else is a massive 8cm

    davidzof
    Member

    It is interesting how passing varies between countries or even counties. I cycle mainly in France and Italy. The Italians pass very fast and very very close, almost brushing past you. Where I live in the Isere you are generally given over a meter but cycle a few km up the road into the Savoie and again they pass very close and also have this annoying habit of tooting their horn as they pass.

    A member of the Savoie police told me that 30% of the motorists they stop in spot checks are over the drink driver limit (50mgs). 😕

    I’ve not cycled a bicycle in the UK for a long time but memories are that drivers are completely crap.

    IanW
    Member

    Cars passing too close and too fast is usually done on purpose by an occasional unhappy driver. Difficult thing to prove these types are more or less likely to be offended by one or another cyclist depending on their clothing without a very big sample group.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
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    IanW – Member
    Cars passing too close and too fast is usually done on purpose by an occasional unhappy driver. Difficult thing to prove these types are more or less likely to be offended by one or another cyclist depending on their clothing without a very big sample group.

    95% of the cars that pass me pass too close according to the highway code

    Premier Icon irc
    Subscriber

    Cars passing too close and too fast is usually done on purpose by an occasional unhappy driver.

    Agreed though the tiny fraction of fatal overtaking hits includes a good percentage who never saw the cyclist through texting tailgating or low sun. Using lights/bright clothing to give all drivers the chance to see cyclists from as far back as possible is a good idea. At worst it does no harm and may make a difference in a tiny percentage of cases.

    The 1 or 2% of drivers who pass uncomfortably close are best dealt with IMO by use of a mirror to alow a gentle swerve a couple of feet left as the pass restoring a safe clearance.

    londonerinoz
    Member

    Demonstrating that there isn’t a link between what cyclists wear and the amount of room given by passing motorists is still a potentially useful conclusion to discourage any ill considered plans or campaigns that ignore the real issues that tend to derive from motorist behaviour and attitudes.

    Issues that are rather neatly highlighted by drivers only changing their behaviour, as little as possible it seems, so as not to risk getting caught by the “police” cyclist, which indicates they know what they should be doing but choose to ignore it most of the time. Presumably they don’t really care about or perceive the actual risk that resulted in that Highway Code rule – is it a law?

    Premier Icon GrahamS
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    the tiny fraction of fatal overtaking hits includes a good percentage who CLAIM they never saw the cyclist through texting tailgating or low sun.

    FTFY.

    Amazing how many drivers involved in fatalities suffer momentary blinding by the sun. Even at times when the sun isn’t particularly low, other witnesses were fine, and they’d been driving on a long straight road.

    Also amazing that “I couldn’t see so I carried on driving at speed till I hit something” is a reasonable excuse in a court of law.

    That said, I avoid cycling into the sun when it is low.

    Premier Icon jameso
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    Amazing how many drivers involved in fatalities suffer momentary blinding by the sun.

    That or a bee/wasp suddenly appeared in the car. Spiders too, responsible for loads of accidents ‘allegedly’.

    poly
    Member

    95% of the cars that pass me pass too close according to the highway code

    OR, 95% of drivers that pass you too “too close” would also pass cars too close!

    Would be interesting to conduct a similar experiment with a slow moving car and see what the passing distances are.

    The original work he did on helmets also had some interesting data on the space drivers leave depending on the distance away from the kerb you ride. It contradicts a lot of what is widely assumed to be the case.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
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    The original work he did on helmets also had some interesting data on the space drivers leave depending on the distance away from the kerb you ride. It contradicts a lot of what is widely assumed to be the case.

    but is still a fairly limited data set so the “widely assumed” may also be true. There are a lot of variables at work here. I normally give a lot of room to cyclists (the full lane) this morning someone was riding so far into the gutter they looked more like a pedestrian at first glance (in a bright green jacket) I was about to pass when I realised and backed off to let them get through the narrow section of road.

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