Why do I appear to be invisible?
Is it always the drivers fault? Out and about today in the summer sun it appeared to be.
Several occasions today I had drivers either pull out of junctions making me slow dramatically or cut across my path because they couldn’t see me or judge my speed.
– The best today being a lady not stopping at a roundabout until she was almost blocking the whole thing, again in front of me. She did look confused by car control though.
Why might other drivers not see us?
Mr or Mrs Joe Bloggs don’t go out with the intention of causing an accident or killing a motorcycle rider.
What does a car driver see?
Like most car drivers I am looking at other cars or maybe the spaces between them. Because I ride a bike I look for motorcycles and cyclists. We are not normally in the foremost of their driver’s minds, we are just another obstacle which they must add to their potentially overloaded thoughts.
In general, if you can alert the driver by looking like a motorcycle, that helps.
Lets think of a few things that help camouflage us from other road users.
Resemblance to the surroundings
- Actually day-glow vests in some situations blend nicely with autumn tree colour or natural backgrounds. Orange, red and pink being better ‘stand-out’ colours than yellow. What else makes you blend in? What is behind you?
- Racing suits or a bike with multiple colours: These can easily break up shape.
Along with Countershading from broken shadows on the road or even over your bike from over hanging trees or street lighting.
Are you actively disguising your size and shape?
If we don’t act like other road users expect i.e. going too fast or maybe the lean angle of the bike makes other road users believe we are doing something we are not, such as coming off a roundabout.
Motion camouflage is achieved by moving so as to stay on a straight line between the target and a fixed point in the landscape i.e. the road. If you place more of an angle between you and the potential hazard it has a better chance of seeing movement.
Tree and building shadow effects as well as street lighting.
Bright street lights, rain or water reflecting light, blocking out your shape.
Bike lights too bright not allowing the other vehicle user to look at you.
What do you do if someone shines a torch in to your eyes? You might see the light but not what’s creating it.
What do you look like to the driver? Bigger? Smaller? Street Furniture?
Motion dazzle may degrade ‘predators’ (car driver) ability to estimate your speed and direction accurately. This is normally combined with disruptive colouration.
Should I wear black or a reflective vest?
Different backgrounds, different weather conditions all play their part. As does your awareness and your actions.
Help that other road user see you, help them to understand what you are doing.
Remember other vehicle users are human too. They make mistake like we do.
Try to reduce their mistakes impact on you.