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Nearly killed a cyclist last night; now LOSE THE BLACK!(34 posts)

Nearly killed a cyclist last night; now LOSE THE BLACK!cory
Nov 1, 2001 4:23 PM
OK, I've been a cyclist for 30 years, commute by bike all summer and as often as I can in winter, ride at night, sympathize with cyclists, keep my eyes open and try really hard not to squash anybody. But God DAMM if people don't quit wearing black, they deserve to die.
I was driving home just at full dark, on a four-lane road with light traffic, and as I accelerated through about 30mph, two guys on mountain bikes, wearing the oh-so-fashionable black tights, black jackets and dark helmets, swooped out from the curb. If I hadn't been looking right where they appeared, or if I hadn't been paying attention, or if they'd been one second earlier, I would have hit them both. I believe nearly all car vs. bike crashes are the driver's fault, but I don't see how I could have avoided this one except by luck, which is how I DID avoid it.
I know there are plenty of black-wearers and black-defenders on here, so somebody tell me: What makes you think that's a good idea? JeeeZUZ!
thought you were being racist at firstDog
Nov 1, 2001 4:28 PM
Just joking.

Did they have lights? I presume not. If they had, regardless of their clothing, wouldn't the lights have stood out well before the clothing anyway? Just a thought.

Dark shorts make a lot of sense. Dark helmets and jerseys don't. I think that 99% of road cyclists do wear bright jerseys, and I certainly do when it's either sunny and hot or dark.

Maybe those two needed to be eliminated from the gene pool. It would be a lot of hassle, though. (Just joking again, not very pc.)

So many w/o lights in Boston nowadayskenyee
Nov 1, 2001 7:59 PM
They seem to be everywhere now that Daylight Savings is over.
I was walking home the other night at around 5:30pm and almost walked right in front of a biker...going the wrong lights whatsoever...wearing dark clothing.

I'm sure Darwinism happens after a while, but if they get hit by a car, you can bet they'll sue first, even if they were at fault...
See the IllumiNITE thread. Also, who "deserves" to die? (nm)Elefantino
Nov 1, 2001 4:41 PM
at least they weren't in the crosswalkmr_spin
Nov 1, 2001 4:45 PM
Hope this makes clear what a total non-issue the crosswalk was in the earlier "riding at night" post.

Riding at night without lights and reflective clothing is just stupid. I commute at night and wouldn't dare get on the road without both.
LOSE THE BLACK!filtersweep
Nov 1, 2001 5:17 PM
The only good thing about black is that it hides grease stains! It is hotter in the summer, but it isn't as "see through" as lighter colors (for better or worse I guess ;) )

However, in low light, the human eye essentially sees in "black and white"- granted lighter colors are more visible, but it is dark so early these days that we should be talking about lights- especially on a four lane road where traffic is probably a bit faster. There is no excuse for any vehicle to be on a road "at full dark" with no lights.
Didn't hit him but I saw one tonight too.McAndrus
Nov 1, 2001 5:22 PM
He was in the middle, turn lane of a six lane major road. And he was on a mountain bike, just sauntering down the middle in all black gear, wwwwaaaayyyy after dusk.

My wife made a snide remark and looked at me like it was my fault (I am the biker, you know).
re: The Peek A Boo SyndromeAkirasho
Nov 1, 2001 5:32 PM
... if I can see your headlights... it means you must see me...

Night driving is risky business at best... we depend on very narrow cones of light... experience and luck even when everyone obeys the rules (rare). Riding at night is riskier still... and the cyclist (even the almighty pedestrian) should take more responsibility here. Unfortunately, being seen after dark is an afterthought to many a cyclist and pedestrian thus the ultimate "responsibility" falls back onto the driver...

There's always gonna be that one (and it only takes one) guy/gal out there to max out your pucker factor... be they on a bike, on foot or even in another car...

Be careful out there...

We abide.

Remain In Light.
"must" or "can" see ?filtersweep
Nov 1, 2001 6:31 PM
from the pedestrian/cyclist's perspective: god only knows where a driver's attention is, and at night you can't make eye contact with the driver easily... so it is difficult for me to assume... if I'm crossing in a crosswalk and a driver is turning (either direction), for all I know, I'm right in his roof pillar and not in his field of vision... or he/she is on the phone, looking for a parking space, or whatever- add this to the fact that there are far more drivers who have been drinking (happy hour or whatever)

Even bike lights aren't a panacea- so many times I've seen those tiny lights coming at me by bikers riding on the wrong side of the road and I have NO IDEA what that light is... is it something off in the distance? A car with a burnt out headlight? A reflection from something else? It's not so bad coming from behind a bike riding properly with a red flashing tail light and a bunch of reflectors.
that's the point with lightsmr_spin
Nov 2, 2001 7:13 AM
Even if you can't identify what it is or where, you know something is there and you'll hopefully be a little more cautious driving. Anything attention getter is better than nothing.
re: Nearly killed a cyclist last night; now LOSE THE BLACK!tr
Nov 1, 2001 9:28 PM
I understand what you mean. I never wear black anything. If i have to deal with the chain or anything i use the grass on my hands. I don't even wear black shoes, white or yellow. Other than the grease on the hands i don't see any reason for wearing black. If you are in the drops they are more likely to see the back side of your bibs, not your jersey. Always use a rear light as well as front and some friends use the strobe light on the arm that you can get at a fishing store.
Nov 2, 2001 2:43 AM
with mat black bikes and black clothes and shoes - at night

= natural selection
So many "blinkie" lights to choose fromTig
Nov 2, 2001 5:44 AM
A good headlight system can cost hundreds, but red blinkie lights can be had for as little as $10. I picked up a cheap mini blinkie at the local Schwinn shop and it has 5 different attention-getting strobe patterns. It can be mounted or worn. Even the higher priced disco ones are still a cheap way to become more visible at night and low light. Just no excuse for any road cyclist to not have one or more on their night excursions.

A few well placed silver reflective stickers can do wonders. They can be cut down small enough to not distract from a high priced bike's looks and don't make the rider look like a Fred. Anything that moves, like shoes, pedals, and wheels are the best spots to make reflective. A small 1 or 2 inch piece opposite of a wheel's valve stem (nice counter balance too) can be seen from a good distance in a car's headlights when in motion.
blinkie front, tooDog
Nov 2, 2001 6:26 AM
I have a couple of Zefal headlights, small 3x AA battery type, that also has 3 yellow LED's that can stay on or flash, too. The LED's can really improve the attention getting power of the light; makes it stand out. It's only a 2.5 watt light, but unless you are going really fast, it works well enough. Might be a pretty good choice for commuting.

blinkie front, toovanzutas
Nov 2, 2001 6:32 AM
I use a red blinkie on the back and a white blinkie on the front. I don't know how I made it all these years without them. they were about $10 each. the front light doesn't help me see but it helps me be seen.

Stay off the sidwalk
yup, "being seen" is more importantDog
Nov 2, 2001 6:35 AM
At least in town, being seen is likely much more important than seeing. Street lights pretty much take care of that, plus we usually aren't going that fast anyway. I don't know why more people don't use front blinkies. No reason we can't have both.

What we need is a good 360 degree xenon strobe on our helmets!

Do any of you remember the movie "wierd Science?"vanzutas
Nov 2, 2001 6:46 AM
The guys on the mopeds had red rotating lights on there helmets. But then again nobody liked them.

was that with the popcorn?Dog
Nov 2, 2001 6:53 AM
So, geeks will be seen, and therefore will be more likely to live longer, procreate (not too geeky, though), and produce more geeks? Count me in. :-)

alternative to the 360 deg xenon strobeET
Nov 2, 2001 7:07 AM
In addition to red rear blinkie and white front blinkie (each $10), I also got the Castelli Arm Band Light, available from Colorado Cyclist. Here is the link:,22144,23921,22133,23439,23654,23925,22070,22079,22041,23508,23503,23773,23605,23610,22024,21994,22007,22002,23737,23768,23750,23759,23600,23713,23732,24332,23727,22060

Price sounds outrageous (there's probably cheaper versions around somewhere), but it really works. Is adjustable, and reflective even without light switched on. Has steady and blink mode which are highly visible from afar, and importantly offers side visibility that the blinkies don't provide. Weighs nothing and takes up no space in your bag. Given I have only one, I keep wondering whether it makes more sense to wear it on the left or the right arm (opinions? should I get another?). Given it does not have the shortcoming of having to be in the direct line of vehicle lights to be seen, why should anyone waste their money on dorky and inferior Illuminite?
Get another. I wear things on the left if I only have one. (nm)vanzutas
Nov 2, 2001 7:14 AM
alternative to the 360 deg xenon strobeDINOSAUR
Nov 2, 2001 8:42 AM
I've given that Castelli Arm Band a lot of thought. I have a black Pearl Izumi Goretex that works very well in the winter. I don't like wearing black either, but it's difficult to find a winter jacket that is not black.

I wore a yellow Performance Illuminite wind jacket for the first time yesterday while on a mid afternoon ride. It did a terrible job of regulating body heat.

I don't ride at night, but riding in the winter with overcast sky's through the shade on back country roads can make it difficult to see a cyclist if the lighting is just right.

Cory- what happened to that article you were going to write about the effects of wearing certain color clothing while cycling? You asked for input last winter but we never saw anything on it. I know that here in the foothills green cars are hard to see during certain times of the year as they blend in with the background.

On the other side of the coin my closest encounters of nearly getting hit while cycling have come in the middle of the summer while decked out in bright colored jerseys. Perhaps it's because I put in more miles during the summer months and expose myself more to traffic? Go figure..
Don't like front Blinkies-looks like you are going the other wayMB1
Nov 2, 2001 6:55 AM
I've only got one eye=poor depth perception at night. When I see blinkies I always think it is the rear not the front. Bet drivers think that too.

As a minimum cyclists at night are required by law (I bet I know a lawyer/daddie-to-be who posts on this board who could post the law about this for us) to have a red rear reflector and a steady white light in the front. Headlights for bicycles can be had for about the same price as a blinkie at your local big box store.

2 stories about idiots at night: We were riding home in rush hour after dark last Thursday and overtook a pack of maybe 20 rollerbladers on the road in front of the monuments here in DC. The road is busy, very dark and tourists are always distracted from the road by the well lit monuments. Most of the bladers had no lights at all, a few had blinkies mounted on their backpacks. Of course they were all bent over blading fast like that so only the helicopters could see them.

#2 This time last year as we commuted home at night a cyclist without lights was whistling to get the attention of riders going the other direction. He did it for about a week before he either killed someone, quit commuting or got a light.

Be careul at night, it's a jungle out there and Darwin is hard at work!
Prefer steady light in the city.dzrider
Nov 2, 2001 7:14 AM
Blinking lights are more visible on dark, open roads, but I use a steady red light in the city. A driver started to turn right onto a side street as I went straight and came pretty close to hitting me. He was upset, but not angry, and told me that my blinking light made him think I was turning. His demeanor was such that I believed him and now stop the blinking until I'm well out into the suburbs.
My point exactly. nmMB1
Nov 2, 2001 7:52 AM
good point. Some lights have variable patterns...Tig
Nov 2, 2001 9:58 AM
...that would make it hard to think it was a turn signal, but with so many bonehead drivers out there it's best to keep it safe.
Lose the Black?........"deserve to die".......Hello......cippo
Nov 2, 2001 6:52 AM
Ok, I understand completely Cory's gripe about those who wear black clothing......especially at night, but how 'bout thinking first before you include such "stupid" comments.....I for one have a fair amount of "BLACK" clothing as well as LIGHT colored.....I think that if you wear a majority of black while riding at night, steps need to be taken to increase one's visibility......Flashing LED's, IllumiNITE Vest, Headlight, etc........We all know that......I hope......Maybe those "Clown" just didn't give a shit whether or not they were seen........."they deserve to die".........c'mon...............I've found that using reflective tape works best....especially in the city......You can place small pieces just about anywhere on the bike as well as your body.....An it works very well....I've had several motorists comment at traffic lights or stop signs that they could see me a mile away. Another example was, "get your damn Christmas Tree @#$ off the road...........Ha Ha.....At least he saw me anyways.........OK, maybe you were lucky to have not wiped them out.......or maybe they were, but maybe one should be thankful that nothing happened and more on.....
I did that onceKristin
Nov 2, 2001 6:53 AM
I understand your frustration. I shudder at how many thought me stupid on August 30th when I emerged from the Prarie Path decked out in black (white helmet) at 8:30pm. I had grossly miscalculated sunset. The street was actaully better than the path since there were (finally) some lights. I opted to ride on the sidewalk, since it seemed safer. Stopped at all intersections and proceeded when completely clear. I'll never make that mistake again.

You never know. They may have made a legitimate mistake or had circumstances and perhaps felt very bad about riding that late in those clothes. ...Or they could just be morons. In any regard, I agree with Elefantino. No one "deserves" to die.
you killed a cyclist?!nm
Nov 2, 2001 6:57 AM
No, no, no...the other thing! (nm)Kristin
Nov 2, 2001 7:06 AM
Nov 2, 2001 6:56 AM
I hear ya! Just look at all the clothing they release for winter riding every year. Here is is the time of year where daytime visability is drastically reduced due to poor weather and the likelyhood of riding at night is very high due to short daylight hours, and it seems like the only bike clothes being made are black or very dark, hard to see colors. Where the he!! is all the high-visability clothing? Why do I have to search all over the internet and the local bike shops in vain to finally find flourescent yellow long sleeve jerserys and jackets.

I ride a lot at night and when properly outfitted, I feel safer than in the day. With proper clothing, reflectors and lighting, you can create a lot more contrast at night than day.

I too have had close calls when driving at night, but have noticed the problem is "people riding bikes", not "cyclists". No helmets, poofy black pants, poofy black coat, typical gansta wear, and no knowledge of bicycling laws. When reading the bicycle death and accident statistics published by Washington State, it verifies that the highest death/accident rate is the riders I just profiled, riding after dark in the evening.

Nearly crashed into an all black kerbside wheeler last yearJohn-d
Nov 2, 2001 8:00 AM
and I was on my bike. Just didn't see him in this dark lane until my front light reflected off his hands - he turned right across me. Fortunately he wasn't wearing gloves. He couldn't see my point even though I was giving my best impersonation of a christmas tree. Reflective clothing, steady lights, blinking lights, pedal reflectors, the full works.

We (us proper cyclists) have to set the example. Trouble is these dozos send their kids out the same, nightmare when driving.
I don't think the black was the problembikedodger
Nov 2, 2001 8:05 AM
If the cyclists had light of any sort, you would have been aware of them. Many people drive black cars are are seen at night because they turn their lights on.

The other major problem with the cyclists you encountered was their lack of proper attention to what they were doing. As they "swooped out from the curb", it didn't matter if they were well lit or not, they put themselves in danger with their poor traffic skills.

Personal Safety StrobePoulidor
Nov 2, 2001 12:00 PM
For what it's worth, I use a small safety strobe light that fits easily in my bottle cage with a velcro strap (I also use a headlight and tail light). The strobe light is white and super bright. It flashes about 1-2 times per second for about 15 hours or so, on a single D cell battery. These things cost about $20 and can be found at sporting goods outlets such as They don't provide too much forward visibility (in the bottle cage) but do greatly improve the lateral visibility a lot, something that is lacking with most bike lighting systems.
Well, the thing is this guy wore matt blackJohn-d
Nov 2, 2001 12:24 PM
Usually even in a black as pitch country lane there is usually some light, be star or moon light. Black cars can be seen because they are shiny and reflect some light.

This fella just absorbed it all, if I had been in my car curtains, unless the brighter headlights would have been able to pick him up.

But of course if there is zero light then even white cannot be seen. That is why a photographic dark room can be painted white if it is totally light proof.

Whatever, You are spot on with your comments on road craft. Even christmas trees can get run over if they do somethig daft.