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Update on cyclist hit; mirrors(23 posts)

Update on cyclist hit; mirrorsDog
Aug 9, 2001 6:11 AM
This is a follow up on a post I did a week ago concerning a motorhome's mirror striking a cyclist and killing her. The following is from John Hughes, one of the most respected ultra cyclists on the planet:

I talked with Lon & Susan (ultra cyclists and directors of RAAM), who are still on the Northern PAC Tour, about Edy
Wiersema's tragic death.

The accident took place on a two mile straight stretch of road with good
visibility. The road goes uphill, with two lanes uphill and one lane
downhill. The lanes were standard 12-14 foot lanes. There was about 1 foot
of shoulder right of the white line. The road climbed a 3-4% grade, so the
riders were climbing in the saddle, not standing and weaving.

The 71 year old driver of the RV had only owned the vehicle for a week and
failed to realize how wide it was. An RV is only about 8 feetwide and he had
room to move left in his lane. He forced other riders off the road before
the mirror struck Edy in the head. She was wearing a helmet; I don't know if
she used a mirror. The day after the accident the owner sold the RV. The
Missoula authorities are investigating the accident to determine whether to
file charges.

I also talked to a client on the tour; he confirmed that the accident was the
result of driver error. Lon picks very safe routes and the man failed to
yield the road.

As a result of the accident, the Missoula bike club is urging the Department
of Transportation to put up "Caution, Bikes Ahead" signs on popular routes.

Lon, Susan and the group on the tour are quite shaken. They continue to
ride, for Edy, but there isn't much joy in the trip. Today there is a
memorial service and cremation in Groningen, the Netherlands. Tomorrow is
the last day of PAC Tour. Each rider will carry a flower for Edy.

I knew Edy well. I coached her for several years, she rode my Red Rocks and
Pacific Crest Tours, and she was one of the original Red Rockettes for the
508 last fall, before withdrawing so she didn't have to travel so much. She
was an urbane, witty woman and a strong rider.

We were on PCT this year when we heard of her accident and later of her
death. What did we do? Shed tears for our friend. Cursed the driver and
fate. And then decided to continue to embrace the sport we love. We rode
more cautiously, wearing bright colors, using our mirrors, calling out
traffic to riders ahead. But we rode.

In the Dec, 2000 UltraCycling, Ed Fleming wrote "Close to Us All", about the
death of a friend on a ride. He concluded by saying "I will never let the
act of one careless person keep me from doing something I love. I'm digging
my heels in and I won't relent. I have worked — we all have worked — too
hard, and we enjoy riding too much, to quit or to be scared off our passions
and our goals."

John Hughes


After reading this, I bought two types of mirrors. One, the little stick on mirrors that go inside your glasses. The second, a helmet mounted mirror. I wanted to see for myself whether a mirror might have made a difference. A photo of the helmet mirror is below.

The little bitty mirrors were useless. I could not possibly get them positioned properly. Either they needed to be so far to the outside to see around my face that I could no longer see them, or they were too far to the center. They also interfered with normal vision. Plus, they didn't stick with a hoot.

The helmet mounted mirror was much better. I rode with it on a 36 mile training ride last night. After a couple of miles of messing with it to get proper positioning, I found that if I looked up and to the left a little, I could see behind me pretty well. However, I needed to concentrate and remove my focus from the road ahead. Also, it substantially interfered with forward/left vision, potentially obstruc
rest of messageDog
Aug 9, 2001 6:12 AM
The helmet mounted mirror was much better. I rode with it on a 36 mile training ride last night. After a couple of miles of messing with it to get proper positioning, I found that if I looked up and to the left a little, I could see behind me pretty well. However, I needed to concentrate and remove my focus from the road ahead. Also, it substantially interfered with forward/left vision, potentially obstructing the view of a car coming from an intersection from my left.

I experimented quite a bit to determine whether a from-behind accident might be avoided with the mirror. I don't think it could. While I could determined the *presence* of a car behind, it was very difficult to determine the position of the cars accurately enough to know if a collision was likely. Plus, the cars dissappeared from view as they drew close by. The field of vision with the mirror was not broad enough both to see well behind and to the lane of travelled traffic within a few car lengths.

I do think that on narrower country roads, where we tend to ride well into the road, a mirror would help to know when to move over. However, I don't think it could possibly help to avoid getting hit. I could not see behind well enough, and then react quickly enough, to make a difference.


P.S. The mirror mount fell off the helmet about 30 miles into the ride. But, it was 108 degrees out.
rest of messagebadabill
Aug 9, 2001 6:47 AM
Sad to lose such a person to stupidity like this. On a ride I was on last year a rider was sideswiped by a motor home in much the same manner. He was lucky to only break his collar bone. I tried 1 of the mirrors that slide into the end of the bar drops. Found it did not help much. Usually the car was so close before you noticed it in the mirror that there was no time for reaction. Because I use perscription glasses in my case the helmet mirror does not work. Until I find something that works I leave it to the bike gods, like most riders.
rest of messageToldjaso
Aug 9, 2001 6:52 AM
And yet everyone here reamed me last year when I said essentially the same thing- mirrors were useless. I guess it doesn't matter what anyone here says unless King Doug Sloan says it is so.
c'mon, why get personal?Dog
Aug 9, 2001 6:58 AM
If you'll read the posts, I think you'll see that plenty of people disagree with me quite often.

Just trying to be somewhat objective and informative. Getting personal isn't necessary, is it?

personal attacks!keith m.
Aug 9, 2001 8:37 AM
Why would you use this subject as an oppurtunity to attack a fellow cyclist on the board? Maybe if you want some respect for your opinions you can start by using your real name and a civil tone. There are alot of valuble opinions posted on this board by many of the users here.
Thank You...Len J
Aug 9, 2001 6:58 AM
for the update, I have been thinking about this accident since your original post.

I particularly appreciate the quote about continuing to do what we love.

I must say that I was honestly hoping that the accident was preventable by some action she could have taken as it would have meant in some way that we all (I) was safer on the road. I know this is crap, but it was what I was feeling.

I love riding & in spite of the danger will continue to ride. Thank you for reminding me that this is a choice.

me too - that "one thing"Dog
Aug 9, 2001 7:29 AM
I'm thankful, too.

After an accident about 3 years ago, my wife became very upset, worrying that I might get killed riding. She wanted me to stop. My feeling, which I expressed to her at the time, was that if I stop riding, I might as well be dead. Cycling has become such a large part of my life, I can't imagine living without it. It's difficult to convey that message to someone who does not have something like that in their life, though.

Remember the movie, City Slickers, when Jack Palance was explaining the meaning of life to Billy Crystal? He held up one finger, and said this is what life is all about... just one thing. Billy said, what's the one thing? Palance said, "that's for you to figure out. Once you do that, everything makes sense." (not a direct quote, but close, I think).

For many of us, tempered with responsibilities, cycling may be that "one thing."

Aug 9, 2001 9:42 AM
That's exactly the way I think about it. Life is much more manageable when you simplify it and determine what's really important to you. Cycling is without a doubt my "one thing" and I have to confess that whenever I see that scene from "City Slickers" I think the same thing. There's danger in everything we do in life, but if you live with the sole purpose of avoiding the danger, you're not really living (scary, yet another lesson from City Slickers!).

I suspect that most of us don't even realize how lucky we are to have discovered our "one thing".
Well put......Len J
Aug 9, 2001 11:11 AM
you must be a lawyer or something the way you use words:)

I'm busted! Thanks - nm.CRM
Aug 9, 2001 11:33 AM
mirror suggestions ...bianchi boy
Aug 9, 2001 7:22 AM
I have tried a helmet mount mirror and didn't like it. Mine fell off, as well, and it got out of adjustment very easily from vibrations, bumps etc. I haven't tried the eye-glass mount mirrors, but considering the trouble with helmet mounted version, don't think it would work for me.

I prefer bar-end mount mirrors, although they are not ideal. The best one I've found yet is the Third Eye brand bar-mount mirror. It doesn't seem to get out adjustment easily and is relatively light and inabtrusive.

Personally, I feel very vulnerable riding without a mirror. They not only help you see approaching traffic, but keep you more aware of what's going on. Believe it or not, I got hit by another biker from the rear during a recent metric century, when I wasn't using my mirror -- and now I use it all the time. He was a newbie drafting my rear wheel too closely and bumped the wheel going about 22 mph. If I had been using my mirror at the time, I would have seen how close he was and told him to back off. Although it didn't hurt me, he lost control and crashed. Fortunately, he wasn't seriously hurt, but had a severe case of road rash and destroyed his new helmet, jersey and shorts.
Ugh. I hate those mirrorsmr_spin
Aug 9, 2001 7:31 AM
I'm not putting anything next to my eye that will poke into it when I crash. And the bar end type just look silly to me and cause me to swing way wide to avoid getting snagged in a paceline.

But I also wonder if having a mirror makes you any more safe. At best, I think it offers the illusion of safety. At worst, it can cause problems because you aren't looking ahead.

For instance, the guy drafting you bumping your wheel. How do you think that incident would have been different had you had a mirror? Same goes for the sad, sad story of the guy with the RV. What if there isn't any more room on the road to get out of his way?
Aug 9, 2001 7:36 AM
Do you really think that mirror would have helped you avoid the consequences of another rider's stupidity? If you would have happened to 'bust' him/her, would you really have told another rider to back off your wheel while riding in a paceline (not overlapping)? [is there such a thing as "too close" while in a group? if so, what is the etiquette of this, especially when a group forms up during a century?] Do people not look around and be aware of other riders around them, especially in a large group? or are people so oblivious that they just keep a deathgrip on the bars and look straight ahead while riding?
Every little bit helps ...bianchi boy
Aug 9, 2001 10:49 AM
I don't think a mirror is gonna magically make cycling peril-free, but it's one more thing that makes it safer. I've ridden both with a mirror and without, and I feel much safer with the mirror. It's not like I fixate on the mirror and don't watch what's ahead, I just glance down at it from time to time. It's particularly nice to have when you're riding on roads with semis, large trucks and SUVs.

The mirror I use now, Third Eye, fits right at the bar-ends and does not project out. The weight is minimal as well as the size. It's EZ to adjust and doesn't vibrate. Anyway, it works for me and makes me at least feel a lot safer. At the very least, I'll know WHAT hit me if I'm ever so unfortunate.

As far as drafting is concerned, the situation where the guy hit my rear wheel was unusual. This was a guy new to biking, who I just met during the ride. During the course of the ride he told me he had only been cycling about a month. Considering his newness, I was careful not to draft him too closely during the ride, as we were keeping about the same pace. However, I didn't notice him right on my wheel when the accident happened. If I had a mirror at the time, I think I would have cautioned him about drafting too closely, given that he was so new to cycling.
I've had great luck with Cycleaware Viewpoint MirrorsPoulidor
Aug 9, 2001 7:44 AM
These are the little mirrors that stick to the inside of the glasses lens (very stealthy). I know that depending on the shape of your face and the glasses you use, some people can never get them adjusted right. Usually they work best on glasses that are fairly flat (don't wrap tightly against the side of the face). It takes trial and error to get them set up right but I have used them for about 5 years now and I never ride without them. I use Bolle Breakaway Vigilante glasses and have one mirror on each set of lenses, for different lighting conditions. Once you have them set up, they work great. I commute 4-5 times a week and I think they are a lifesaver. At $10 a pair (plus extra glue pads), I think they are an incredibly cheap investment in safety. Another bonus of glasses mounted mirrors is that by turning your head slightly, you can see behind you while on a curving road, something the handlebar mounted mirrors can't do.
mirrors, etc.Hank
Aug 9, 2001 7:50 AM
Rivendell sells a cool mirror in their catalog made out of a spoke -- attaches to glasses I think. I, personally, don't like mirrors. I think by now I have developed a sixth sense regarding cars - they never sneak up on me. One thing I tend to do on roads with light traffic is assert my presence - riding out a bit, and then moving in just before the cars pass (not possible with steady raffic of course -- still I think you need to maintain a presence on the road). I think in this case, though, there's not much that could be done -- a very large vehicle being driven by someone who is obviously unqualified. It's sad. I think any vehicle weighing more than 5,000 pounds should require a special licence/training (this includes Lincoln Navigators, Suburbans etc.).
2 part pollllllllllllllll
Aug 9, 2001 8:43 AM
1- How many people do or do not use mirrors?
2- How many people think mirrors significantly add to the safety of their riding?
2 part pollMiklos
Aug 9, 2001 9:35 AM
1- Yes, I do use a mirror.

2- I think it greatly enhances my safety in the environment in which I ride. I use the Rhoad Gear mirror that attaches to the left hand brake hood. With the mirror mounted in this position, it can be used from riding on bar tops, hoods, drops and aero bars with no adjustment at all. I did try the helmet mount mirror & didn't care for it because it came out of adjustment almost every time I took my helmet off. Since my helmet moves around somewhat on my shaved bald head, the helmet mount mirror would never stay properly aimed. I did not try the little mirror that mounts on the inside of riding glasses because they won't work with Smith Sliders.

With a mirror, I find that I can watch BOTH the road ahead and the road behind. I don't even have to move my head to check behind, just a quick shift of the eyes. I don't race or ride with large groups, so the lost side clearance of 3" is not a problem. When I ride with my wife, it makes it much easier to keep an eye on her progress when she's behind me.

On the narrower country roads that I ride, there are lots of dump trucks and the mirror helps me see the size of what is coming up behind me. Then, based on on-coming traffic, I can plan my best lane positioning.

When I ride in heavier traffic in the city, due to the general roar of traffic, my ears become useless for determining individual vehicle approaching from behind. The mirror sure helps though. Great for watching someone turn their rh turn signal on when they are behind you, then getting just pass you and turning into you. My mirror has saved me from several of these types of accidents.

I won't ride without a mirror. Period.

2 part pollKEN2
Aug 9, 2001 8:57 PM
I agree with all your points and use a mirror myself especially for commuting. However, my sunglasses are Smith Slider SL2's and the inside-the-lens mount mirror work fine--you can still change out lenses no problem. I actually prefer that kind of mirror because
1) it's unobtrusive and 2) it stays in alignment/adjustment the best.
Yes and yes - for my conditions.E3
Aug 11, 2001 6:34 AM
I used helmet-mounted mirrors for three years before I tried the little one mounted inside my left lense. This is easily the best one I've used. I found the sweet spot on my lense where I can see well behind me without obstructing my forward field. I've never had trouble with it not staying firmly stuck in place, regardless of temp or humidity.

I do think that it adds to my safety, but then I ride in a flat region where I can always see for at least 1/4 mile behind me. It might not be as effective on narrow, tree-lined, twisting roads.

I rarely use my mirror on group rides. Under such conditions, it is dangerous to be glancing back so often when there are riders all around me. Plus, I feel safer on group rides because several riders are more visible to traffic than a solo.
re: Update on cyclist hit; mirrorsDINOSAUR
Aug 9, 2001 9:57 AM
First let me say that I am saddened about the death of a fellow cyclist.

I've tried several types of mirrors and can't find one that works. I seem to be concentrating on what is behind me instead of what is ahead.

It doesn't have to be motor home, I was nearly sideswiped by a middle aged lady driving a Honda CRX last Saturday. I don't know for the life of me how she managed to come so close. My only recourse would have been to bail out into the open ditch as there were no shoulders.

REI sells a mirror that attaches to your riding glasses. I've seen several riders that use them and swear by them. Maybe I might give one a try.

Actually this is a good topic, a lot of riders don't ride with a mirror because of the image. I rely on my ears, but every once and a while a car will sneak up on me.

Riding on roads does present an inherent danger as we are exposed to traffic from motor vehicles. For this very reason we should stick together and avoid flaming each other. We might indeed all be "dinosuars".

Ride Safe
re: Update on cyclist hit; mirrorsSkip
Aug 9, 2001 10:21 AM
I tried a different helmut mounted mirror years ago and didn't like it. I found it hard to find the sweet spot for visibility, it was easily bumped out of alignment, and with speed, sometimes the wind would shift it slightly.

I now use the road verion mirror by "Rhode". It attaches to the brake hoods and gives a great view to the rear. A little large, and Freddish, and shoot, weighs a whole 75 g, but what is safety worth. I wasn't totally happy with the mount that came with the mirror, so I fabricated my own mount for the mirror, contoured to the brake hood, from carbon fiber cloth. This moved the mirror mount up onto the point of the hood, allowing complete use of the hood and brake mechanism with great hand position, and gave the mirror much better stability and resilience to vibration. I just yesterday took some photos of my mount. I'll post them when I get them back.