Author Topic: Rant alert: I wonder whether Michael Mason would be alive if he'd had a mirror?  (Read 2217 times)

Porkins

  • Formerly Nick H. And a long time ago etc, Eurostar
Remember Michael Mason, who was hit from behind on Regent Street? It was a notorious case - the driver's excuse was that she didn't see him, the Police wouldn't prosecute, a private prosecution was brought, the driver was acquitted of causing death by careless driving in 17 minutes. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/hairdresser-cleared-over-cyclists-death-tells-of-horrifying-experience-a3511336.html I know that rear-enders are rare but this sort of thing haunts me. I use a Mirrycle mirror to look out for drivers who aren't concentrating or who can't drive in a straight line because their steering alignment and tyre pressures are a joke, a common scenario in the US. It baffles me that mirrors are so rare on bicycles. So I've assumed Mr Mason didn't have one. We're all taught about life-saver glances but they're no substitute for a mirror, unless you can rotate your neck as fully and rapidly as a bird. People who've never used a decent
mirror will blithely repeat the dictum that "you should look over your shoulder anyway." It makes my blood boil! A few mirror users, e.g. me and Hans Stucke, reckon a mirror is more important than a h****t. End of rant.

Rear facing camera?

Samuel D

What do you do when you detect a threat in your mirror?

What about the threats whose reflections you see but which never materialise?

Most drivers move out quite late to pass a bicycle. Even if I had a mirror, by the time I realised a driver was not going to move out as the others did, I would have a mere second or two to evacuate the road (presumably by skyhooks).

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
What do you do when you detect a threat in your mirror?

Quite.  I'm a big fan of mirrors, but for me they're mostly about knowing whether it's safe to manoeuvre: starting off, pulling out, stopping, that sort of thing, and for seeing whether people fall off the back of a group ride.  I'll frequently not know if there's another road user behind me because I haven't had specific reason to check for a while, particularly if it's the sort of conditions where I can hear or reasonably assume that there is.

It might help me spot someone driving into me from behind in the fraction of a second where it becomes clear they're not slowing down to assume a standard intimidating tailgating position, but I'm not sure that'll help me do anything other than start shouting in time to be able to get out both syllables of "FUCK!!".
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

It always amazes me when I see people cycling on busy town/city roads wearing headphones (presumably listening to music) - I need ALL my senses when cycling, especially in towns/cities.
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
It always amazes me when I see people cycling on busy town/city roads wearing headphones (presumably listening to music) - I need ALL my senses when cycling, especially in towns/cities.

Never mind that, have you seen how many drive around with a petrol engine making a godawful racket right in front of them and windows blocking the external noise?
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

It always amazes me when I see people cycling on busy town/city roads wearing headphones (presumably listening to music) - I need ALL my senses when cycling, especially in towns/cities.

Never mind that, have you seen how many drive around with a petrol engine making a godawful racket right in front of them and windows blocking the external noise?

Yes, but they feel safe in their steel box...
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
It always amazes me when I see people cycling on busy town/city roads wearing headphones (presumably listening to music) - I need ALL my senses when cycling, especially in towns/cities.

Never mind that, have you seen how many drive around with a petrol engine making a godawful racket right in front of them and windows blocking the external noise?

I'm so glad you wrote that, saved me the job.

I cycle with headphones on. They are open backed headphones and I'm usually listening to radio 4 or a podcast. I find listening to something like this helps me concentrate and not get lost in thought. I've had people tell me off for this. I had some old woman give me an inquisition when I stopped out side a chippy. And was taking the headphones off. She said something to me. I uncovered my ears and said "pardon?" "This is why you shouldn't ride with headphones you can't hear what I was saying" "but I knew you were talking. I don't need to be able to tell it's a flat 6 engine in the car behind me, just to know the car is there. I can do that even over the sound of radio4" I then went to get my fish n chips. She didn't like the youngen talking back, and hurrrumphed off...

But what I said to her stands. I can hear quite a bit even with music on my headphones, it's enough to know the vehicles are there. And for large vehicles I can often feel the vibration rather than hear them.

But back to mirrors.

My immediate thought is "oh do go away" but then I thought about it some more,  and conclude, that like hivi, and helmets, and bike to car transponders and all the other bollocks people spout about bike safety, it's trying to solve the wrong problem the wrong way.

You're worried about cars driving into the back of you? Fine. Get the cars out of the cycle lanes. Problem solved. Oh and while you're at it, fix the law so there is presumed liability for the driver. That's going to have a much bigger impact than some tin foil on a stick cluttering up my handlebars.

Oh, and as for helmets. Their sole purpose for 99% of riders is to protect you from the judgement of fellow road users. And I say that as one of the half dozen people who commutes through Amsterdam wearing a helmet.

If you want to take one measure to improve the outcome of you coming off your bike, get a cheap €10 set of gloves. You'll get far more use out of them than any other safety crap people suggest. After an afternoon spent picking gravel out of the palm of your hands, the sacrificial skin layer gloves provide is well worth it. If I had to choose between helmet and gloves. I'd choose gloves every time.

End rant.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

A discussion about mirrors is a valid topic but I'm not joining this one as I find the OP to be in poor taste with overtones of victim blaming. 

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
A discussion about mirrors is a valid topic but I'm not joining this one as I find the OP to be in poor taste with overtones of victim blaming.

+1

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Virtual Alps
Any time spent looking behind you is better spent looking ahead, especially in an urban setting.
"This is a complex subject, with a need for more than one highlighter pen."

BrianI

  • Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Lepidopterist Man!
A discussion about mirrors is a valid topic but I'm not joining this one as I find the OP to be in poor taste with overtones of victim blaming.

+2

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
[Abuse in deletia] C-3PO

Except that doesn't necessarily hold true. The great cycle infrastructure in the Netherlands has been built largely since the 1970's. That is within the lifetime of many on this forum. I would hold out that if what .nl can do in the last 50 years, UK can do in the next 50, then we're gonna be in a much better place. The majority of those who use this forum should have a comfortable expectation to see another 50 years.

As for does a mirror delay a protected cycle path. Maybe. If people think that donning the lycra, and a plastic hat is the necessary battledress to cycle to work, people will say "Why do you need cycle lanes, that guy there cycles to work just fine" . It's tinkering while Rome burns.

I appreciate that you feel the loss of Mr Mason, and I know that it can feel like it helps to grab at the what it's, we see it with every cyclist death. What if they had done x, what if they had done y, what if what if what if. It's an entirely rationale though process. But it's not a really constructive one. Tho in the short term it may feel that it is.

If you think a mirror is going to help, great, buy one. But understand that you would be far more productive in helping campaign for a better road environment for cyclists. The cycle infrastructure in the Netherlands didn't happen over night, it came about from the hard campaigning, and hard work of many people. It was a victory that even now is still being polished. And it is a victory not without blood.

Quote

Some of you lot are just cunts.

I'm sorry for your loss, but shouting at us isn't the solution.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

I decided many years ago cycling on busy roads (particularly on a LEJoG using almost entirely trunk roads) there was very little point in trying to be constantly aware of what was coming up behind me.  If I was to be wiped out by an inattentive HGV driver then there was naff all I could do about it.

Eyes should be on the road in front to deal with issues that are within your control.  Looking in a mirror for things that may conceivably unfold (but are highly unlikely to) is a distraction, and certainly a way to increase anxiety (unnecessarily IMO).  Shoulder checks are all that should be needed for manoeuvres and a general awareness of things.

Porkins - your anger should be directed where it belongs - with the driver and with the laws as they stand - not here with people who politely differ with your views.

I used to use a mirror - then I nearly rear-ended a car because I was looking in the mirror and a car had abruptly stopped in front of me.

IME, bike mirrors vibrate so much you can't accurately judge closing speed and distance. They are useful for telling you that there is a car behind you. I can tell a car is behind me with my ears. Some people can't, so a mirror would be useful for them.

I don't think a mirror is very useful in a constant stream of traffic.

There is no need to be rude to other people on the forum, just over a difference of opinion.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

What do you do when you detect a threat in your mirror?
...
It might help me spot someone driving into me from behind in the fraction of a second where it becomes clear they're not slowing down to assume a standard intimidating tailgating position, but I'm not sure that'll help me do anything other than start shouting in time to be able to get out both syllables of "FUCK!!".

This.  I've had a mirror.  It was great.  But ...

I don't think I could avoid being driven into from behind using it.  The time and space just doesn't seem sufficient to be ready to make a split second decision to dive off the road if necessary as every single driver approaches.  Maybe that would be workable on a long straight quiet road where you might only have a few cars an hour?  But here in the UK there is so much traffic I just can't imagine making a split second jump/ride decision every single time a vehicle approaches me from behind.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
IME, bike mirrors vibrate so much you can't accurately judge closing speed and distance. They are useful for telling you that there is a car behind you. I can tell a car is behind me with my ears. Some people can't, so a mirror would be useful for them.

I forgot to say that my mirror use is on recumbents, where I regard them to be an essential piece of equipment.  On my uprights I rely on shoulder checks, which you simply can't do to the same extent when reclined in a seat.  I do sometimes miss having one, but the general lack of anywhere convenient to mount them where they won't get bashed or interfere with the fold puts me off.

I also note that mirrors tend to work better on recumbents than they do on uprights.  There are often better places to mount them, that are closer to your eyes, so you can get a decent field of view out of a smaller mirror, and depending on the geometry, may be subject to less vibration than on a typical upright.

I've tried one of those dorky mirrors that mount on the arm of your glasses, but didn't like the blind spot it created.  It does solve the things-sticking-out-from-the-handlebars problem.  I also thought those ReeVu helmets were pretty clever, if you're going to wear a helmet.

I agree that judging speed and distance in any mirror is hard, and that sometimes it's useful to be seen to theatrically look over your shoulder, even if you can't actually turn your head far enough see anything useful.


Quote
I don't think a mirror is very useful in a constant stream of traffic.

It's useful for spotting when there's a gap in the stream, and whether the car behind you is indicating.  The knowledge that there are cars behind you is much less useful.

Basically, mirrors are good for knowing whether it's safe to do something, not for detecting unexpected hazards.  They're more a convenience than a safety device.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
As others have said, the fault here is the driver's, and our legal system – and indirectly society – for not holding the driver to account. I don't recall any valid reason given for the driver not seeing the cyclist other than inattention. Cyclists (and pedestrians) shouldn't have to dress up like demented canaries, wear special hats, and adopt more and more 'safety' measures to justify and militate against the inattention and dangerous activities of drivers. The onus should be on drivers not to kill and injure, not to engage in the actives that have a significant likelihood of such outcomes, rather than blaming the victims of those activities. There's something wrong with a society that goes through these contortions to protect the privilege – and obfuscate the risks – of driving.
!nataS pihsroW

Gattopardo

  • Lord of the sith
  • Overseaing the building of the death star
Remember Michael Mason, who was hit from behind on Regent Street? It was a notorious case - the driver's excuse was that she didn't see him, the Police wouldn't prosecute, a private prosecution was brought, the driver was acquitted of causing death by careless driving in 17 minutes. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/hairdresser-cleared-over-cyclists-death-tells-of-horrifying-experience-a3511336.html I know that rear-enders are rare but this sort of thing haunts me. I use a Mirrycle mirror to look out for drivers who aren't concentrating or who can't drive in a straight line because their steering alignment and tyre pressures are a joke, a common scenario in the US. It baffles me that mirrors are so rare on bicycles. So I've assumed Mr Mason didn't have one. We're all taught about life-saver glances but they're no substitute for a mirror, unless you can rotate your neck as fully and rapidly as a bird. People who've never used a decent
mirror will blithely repeat the dictum that "you should look over your shoulder anyway." It makes my blood boil! A few mirror users, e.g. me and Hans Stucke, reckon a mirror is more important than a h****t. End of rant.


He'd still have been killed, and he would have had a mirror.

Gattopardo

  • Lord of the sith
  • Overseaing the building of the death star
As others have said, the fault here is the driver's, and our legal system – and indirectly society – for not holding the driver to account. I don't recall any valid reason given for the driver not seeing the cyclist other than inattention. Cyclists (and pedestrians) shouldn't have to dress up like demented canaries, wear special hats, and adopt more and more 'safety' measures to justify and militate against the inattention and dangerous activities of drivers. The onus should be on drivers not to kill and injure, not to engage in the actives that have a significant likelihood of such outcomes, rather than blaming the victims of those activities. There's something wrong with a society that goes through these contortions to protect the privilege – and obfuscate the risks – of driving.
I agree and add:

Driver wasn't speeding.....

EDIT - Thie speeding thing is an issue for me, as in other cases where a motorcyclist has been murdered, a witness who hear, not saw, the motorbike acertained that the rider was in excess of the speed limit before incident that caused the the murder of the motorcyclist. Yet there is different basis as the witness of the car driver before Micheal's murder made a claim that the car driver was speeding before the murder of micheal yet the witness was not held in the same esteme.  Does that make sense?

Quick answer is that unless the mirror is big enough and solid enough to deflect a vehicle then it will do very little in a case like that discussed the OP

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
EDIT - Thie speeding thing is an issue for me, as in other cases where a motorcyclist has been murdered, a witness who hear, not saw, the motorbike acertained that the rider was in excess of the speed limit before incident that caused the the murder of the motorcyclist. Yet there is different basis as the witness of the car driver before Micheal's murder made a claim that the car driver was speeding before the murder of micheal yet the witness was not held in the same esteme.  Does that make sense?

Biases aside, I suspect that the average person is much better at judging the speed of cars than of motorcycles, pedal cyclists, aircraft, horses, badgers, whatever.  They're likely to have direct experience of complying with speed limits as a car driver or passenger, but little of anything else.

Motorbikes are *loud* so obviously they're speeding.

Cyclists are basically wheeled pedestrians, so if they approach quickly then obviously they're out-of-control lycra louts.

Etc.


A friend was once a witness in a court case, and sensibly refused to comment on the accused (car driver)'s speed beyond "they were going significantly faster than the other traffic, and the speed limit was 30mph".  If you asked me to judge the speed of a passing vehicle I wouldn't have a clue, unless I were to use numerical strategies or compare to some reference.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Cyclists are basically wheeled pedestrians, so if they approach quickly then obviously they're out-of-control lycra louts.

That's my experience.  When I was left-hooked by a driver a few years ago she said in her defence that I must have been going quickly (actually about 17mph).  She assumed she had overtaken me and that 30 yards later I must have been way behind her.  If she'd checked her left mirror (or even looked out her passenger-side window) would have seen I was still alongside, so when she turned she wiped me out.

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
I doubt SPEED per se was an issue in the Michael Mason case. Regent Street in the rush hour is usually congested and stop-start.

IIRG Gail Purcell's car did not have a conventional petrol engine and might have been nearly silent. I suspect it could accelerate quickly and a quiet accelerating vehicle, driven without due care and attention killed the man.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Actually, another anecdote:  A couple of years ago, I stopped at a red light in primary position.  Two lanes, I'm alone in the left lane heading straight on, right turn lane empty beside me.

Some tens of seconds later, I heard the tyre/engine noise of a car approaching from behind.  I thought nothing of it.

A few seconds after that I heard a squeal of brakes and a loud skidding noise[1] at alarmingly close range, followed by a car appearing in my peripheral vision and coming to a halt beside me, straddling the two lanes, in a puff of tyre smoke.  I've no idea if the driver was speeding or not.  From the fact that they barely overshot the stop line, I suspect that they were simply not paying attention.

I don't think a mirror, or even facing the other way would have helped me if the driver hadn't managed to swerve.  Maybe a mirror, the right randomly-directed attention and a high-performance motorcycle ready to go could have got me out of the way in time.  But I was astride a bicycle, clipped in on one pedal.  I couldn't even have jumped sideways.


There but for the grace of random fuckwits in cars, and all that...


[1] I don't react well to unexpected loud skidding noise.  Bad experience at a formative age.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...