Saturday, November 7, 2009

Seen or Not Seen, That is the Question

The second most popular question at Wheelworks from recumbent customers is when riding a recumbent, if drivers see you or not. (The first being something about the chain.)
I guess the real question is do drivers see anything other then cars? I have always felt that if a driver doesn't see something up the road that's going to cause them harm, then its nothing to take seriously. Things they worry about are things like big trucks, trees, Police cars, Traffic control Officers or there cell phone. Things like large objects in the road like logs. engine parts, large animals and anything that might do damage to there car are noticed. Runners, cyclists, and walkers don't seem like too much of an issue for some reason.
Maybe its the "If the guy is stupid enough to be in the street, he deserves being hit"
Low Racer and Tadpole Tike owners say that if they see the painted line then they should see them. I have a friend that once told me "They wont hit what they cant see!"
I have another friend that was stopped my a State Police Officer and was told he was completely invisible. My friend asked him politely, "Then who are you talking to?"
On Halloween morning on the way to work I carried a Broad Sword as part of my Knight costume for that evening. It seemed as though everybody saw me more then if I had been wearing neon. Case in point about drivers seeing and respecting something that may cause harm.
Using a flag will get you seen, but also causes bully drivers to yell something dumb and could cause more problems then its worth. Neon colors work but will not help with the drivers that just don't want you on the road and would have seen you anyway.
I have always felt that you should always ride as if you are completely invisible and predictable at the same time. You need to understand in the long run, its that car that will always win and to simply stay out of the way.
On my way to work a week ago, I was flying along at 25 MPH and looked to see a Postal Service truck coming up to my right on a side street with a stop sign, He clearly saw me and instead of stopping, sped up to cut me off. Total eye contact. Clearly cutting me off to beat me like a game through the intersection. He would have stopped if I were a truck or a Police Car. but instead, kept coming.
Unlucky for the Pedestrian in the crosswalk that he hit and sent into the middle of the street.
When I confronted him, he was honest to say that he never looked right to see the walker in front of him, Only me to cut me off.

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