Author Topic: Scary stats on invisible cyclists  (Read 2838 times)

Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« on: May 04, 2013, 08:28:28 am »
From last week's Observer/Guardian piece about helmet cams, this comes near the bottom:
A study commissioned by a car insurance company this weekend suggested that drivers fail to see 22% of cyclists on the road in clear view of their vehicle. Direct Line used revolutionary eye-tracking technology to establish that motorists who used satnavs were even less likely to spot a cyclist than those who did not. Some 24% of cyclists were "invisible" to drivers who used a satnav, while the younger the driver, the more likely they were not to spot a cyclist – 31% of cyclists were not seen by motorists aged 20-29, compared with 21% by those aged 50-59.
If true, that is genuinely frightening.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

Flynn

  • Fred Killah
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2013, 09:25:43 am »
Also mentioned on RoadCC last week:

Quote from: RoadCC
The experiment was conducted in three cities – London, Oxford, and Sheffield – and according to Direct Line the issue is most prevalent in the capital, where motorists fail to see three in ten cyclists.

That’s despite the growth in cycling in the city in recent years, that suggests we’re some way from seeing a ‘Safety in numbers’ effect kick in there, whereby the more people there are on bikes, the more motorists are likely to register their presence and drive accordingly.

In Oxford, which has the second highest levels of cycling in England after Cambridge, 20 per cent of riders went unseen, and in Sheffield, 15 per cent.

Researchers found examples of motorists taking their eyes of the road to adjust sat-nav devices and in one case navigate using a hand-held smartphone, and Direct Line says that 24 per cent of riders are “invisible” to drivers using a sat-nav device, compared to 19 per cent where the motorist does not use one.

The biggest difference in the proportion of drivers registering the presence of cyclists was by age.  Some 21 per cent of cyclists were unnoticed by those aged 50 or over, but 31 per cent among motorists aged between 20 and 29 years. Again, that’s a cause for concern given that younger people have better eyesight on the whole.

 http://road.cc/content/news/81753-invisible-cyclists-eye-tracking-experiment-finds-drivers-dont-see-more-1-5-riders
ap·a·thy  (p-th)
n.
1. Lack of interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal; indifference.

Regulator

  • Got a thing for rubber...
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2013, 09:35:48 am »
I hate the terminology "invisible cyclists".  The cyclists aren't invisible - this is a study showing how many motorists aren't looking at their surroundings properly when driving.

If we start using the terminology 'invisible cyclists' we're subtly moving the emphasis away from drivers and on to cyclists.  We see that in the quote Direct Line, who did the study:
Quote
"UK roads are busy and congested and as a result millions of cyclists are going unseen.

“Blaming motorists seems like an easy option, but this issue can only be really addressed if both motorists and cyclists accept responsibility.

Cyclists are NOT responsible for the fact that huge numbers of motorists fail miserably in one of the most basic functions necessary when driving a car: looking where you are going.  All this study will do, with the language of 'invisible cyclists', is increase the calls for cyclists to cover themselves in day-glo clothing as a sop to the inattentiveness of motorists.
Quote from: clarion
I completely agree with Reg.

Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2013, 09:55:41 am »
I agree wholeheartedly, my thread title was a little tongue in cheek.

The way the study was done shows that drivers are not even looking at cyclists, which is truly horrifying. They don't even count the ones who "look through" cyclists as they're only actively looking for motor vehicles.

It's also unacceptable that many drivers think it's perfectly reasonable to say that they didn't see a cyclist, when these stats clearly show it's nothing down to cyclists being difficult to spot, the drivers are not even looking in the first place.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

tonycollinet

  • No Longer a western province of Númenor
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2013, 10:38:33 am »
Personally I find it difficult to believe the stats.

Admittedly I'm only a sample of one cyclist, but I'd estimate I am passed by more than 50 cars each days commute. If 12 of those failed to see me at all, I'd be getting a lot more close passes, or would be hit on a regular basis.

Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2013, 12:12:03 pm »
Personally I find it difficult to believe the stats.

Admittedly I'm only a sample of one cyclist, but I'd estimate I am passed by more than 50 cars each days commute. If 12 of those failed to see me at all, I'd be getting a lot more close passes, or would be hit on a regular basis.

I don't think it's that simple. Lack of direct gaze suggests that cyclists aren't being consciously registered, but most of us will steer around objects only seen in peripheral vision without registering them consciously. What this suggests to me is that a large proportion of motorists are passing cyclists on 'auto-pilot' without ever consciously registering their presence. That would fit with other behaviours, such as pulling in as soon as they're alongside; the pass is being performed using subconscious mental routines which are normally employed to pass stationary objects such as parked cars, bollards, trees, etc.

The processing load when driving is very high, and the subconscious brain will push things up the priority list based on very simple cues: Big = potential threat. Movement across the field of vision = potential threat. Blue and Yellow coloring = potential threat! ;-)  These are the things that get consciously registered. Hence the effectiveness of 'Polite' Hi-vis!
Life is too important to be taken seriously.

Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2013, 12:27:28 pm »
That's a very good point, PhilO. Not so much a "failure to see" but a "failure to look at". To drive safely around other vehicles you have to ascertain their speed and direction, and to do that you have to look at them.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

Kim

  • An appetite for the epic, but no real stamina
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2013, 12:39:33 pm »
I think I agree with that.  A-pillars and bike ninjas aside, the problem isn't that cyclists are invisible, so much that they are relatively hard to judge the speed of and often (it appears subconsciously) treated as stationary objects of negligible width.

How to work around that?  You have to do something that causes drivers to look at you for long enough that they judge your speed and direction.  That's either horizontal or erratic motion (wobbling, the spinning pedals of a recumbent, a cycle helmet bouncing up and down by a bungee cord from your rucksack, etc.) or being sufficiently visually interesting that they notice you (obnoxious lighting[1], looking like a police officer, sexual attractiveness, unusual bike, comedy luggage, garden fork on the rear rack, etc.).  I remain unconvinced that traditional hi-vis fulfils that function.

How to fix it?  Segregation.  Eliminating the inherently flawed human driver.  Slowing motor traffic to the point where cyclists can treat them as almost-stationary objects and ride around them.


[1] Although this can be an own goal if it gets attention but actively inhibits judging speed and direction.
Watching the TV without subtitles is like riding up a hill without using the gears :)

Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2013, 05:54:24 pm »
Your last point happens at 5pm every weekday in most towns.  ;D
Pleasure spreads out on the map and the knapsack is full of joy.

LEE

Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2013, 06:46:09 pm »
Classic case of statistics proving something something that actually isn't backed-up by reality.

Or, more accurately, their stats don't draw any meaningful conclusions.

I suggest the statistic is more like "22% of motorists don't focus their eyes on cyclists that their subconscious tells them they don't need to focus on"

The roads are full of hazards that I bet would fail to be detected by this technology. 

Headline could be "Drivers fail to notice parked cars and bollards" (but somehow the vast majority of motorists manage not to drive into them).

We've all probably driven to work and arrived without any recollection of the journey.  That "full Auto-pilot" feeling that seems like it must be dangerous and yet didn't involve any dead pedestrians or cyclists stuck to your windscreen.

I suggest that the recognition of hazards is more complex than simply registering a direct gaze at an object.  I'd be amazed if that figure remained the same when a motorist approaches and subsequently passes a cyclist.  If it's still 22% then I'm quitting cycling (but of course, real life tells me what actually happens).

Their own stats undermine their stats. 

"2,660 cyclists seriously injured in 2011-2012".  OK, well how many times were cyclists overtaken by motorists that year?  Countless millions of times?  Billions of times?

That's the stat I want to see.  What percentage of motorists don't see cyclists 10 yards away, directly in front, as they start to pass them?

Kim

  • An appetite for the epic, but no real stamina
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2013, 07:24:06 pm »
Exactly.  It's only the cyclists that don't reasonably approximate a two-dimensional object of negligible velocity that are a problem, and only a subset of those are ever going to be involved in an incident.

The problem with heuristics is that they work.
Watching the TV without subtitles is like riding up a hill without using the gears :)

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2013, 08:35:16 pm »
I don't think some drivers notice anything. I recently watched a driver zoom across a zebra crossing, nearly clipping the person using the crossing at the time. I was approaching so could see the driver and her (lack of) reaction. She'd neither noticed the crossing or the pedestrian in the middle of the road, despite the fact that she came within a few centimetres of hitting them.

Given that every bollard seems to get knocked down and drivers are always being surprised by things like large, illuminated traffic islands, I don't think there are any surprises.
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David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2013, 07:49:45 am »
It has been stated elsewhere that above about 22-25mph driving moves from a 'notice and respond to the surroundings' to a 'keep it between the lines' action. Try performing a commentary and ensuring that you have seen every reasonable potential hazard - your speed in town *will* drop to 20mph. Above that we play a percentage game and woe betide anyone else who is a non-majority user who wants to be on the road.

I would urge you all to head over to http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/30kmh_making_streets_liveable.htm and sign the petition.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

nicknack

  • Fledgling Swampy
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2013, 08:49:09 am »
I have performed an interesting (to me anyway) experiment on invisibility a number of times. Find a country road that's wide enough for a couple of cars to be side by side and has a kerb - doesn't have to have a footpath, just a kerb. Stand in the road with your feet touching the edge of the kerb. Note how nearly all the cars slow down and give you a pretty wide berth. Now step onto the kerb so you have effectively moved about 6". Note how none of the cars slow down or change their line so you will now be passed very closely and at speed. You have become invisible merely by stepping onto the kerb.

Which is why I always walk in the road on country lanes - never on the kerb.
This old man came rolling home.

Riggers

  • Mine's a pipe, er… pint!
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2013, 09:34:05 am »
That is an interesting observation Knackers.

I've noticed that the unzipped jacket flapping, seems to unnerve drivers and, after a couple of close calls* on my Sunday ride, I'm seriously thinking of putting a 'lollipop' on my mountain bike and racer. Okay, it's only a couple of close calls in amongst several hundreds during the ride, but then it only takes one doesn't it.

Maybe having one of those plastic child seats, with a life-like doll strapped in would help?


*This particular one happened in Lewes at a traffic island that produces an obvious(?) pinch-point. It didn't delay Mr old Arse Cock who sped passed me so close, I could have simply angled my elbow out a little to brush against his windows.
Certainly never seen cycling south of Sussex

Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2013, 10:11:15 am »
It has been stated elsewhere that above about 22-25mph driving moves from a 'notice and respond to the surroundings' to a 'keep it between the lines' action. Try performing a commentary and ensuring that you have seen every reasonable potential hazard - your speed in town *will* drop to 20mph. Above that we play a percentage game and woe betide anyone else who is a non-majority user who wants to be on the road.

I would urge you all to head over to http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/30kmh_making_streets_liveable.htm and sign the petition.
I'm pretty sure I've signed that already - it was linked to a while ago by Panoramix. Unless there are two such petitions. Dithering now between not signing it at all or possibly invalidating something! (it does say "I hereby certify that the information provided in this form is correct and that I have not already supported this proposed citizens' initiative" though I guess if it's clever enough it will just say "Oi, you've already signed this!")
Pleasure spreads out on the map and the knapsack is full of joy.

Gandalf

  • Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2013, 10:13:38 am »
I don't know if I'm imagining this, but on my last few longish rides I've been sporting various YACF jerseys, with the chevrons. I seem to have had fewer close passes.

Pingu

  • Put away those fiery biscuits!
  • Mrs Pingu's domestique
    • the Igloo
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2013, 10:30:42 am »
That is an interesting observation Knackers.

I've noticed that the unzipped jacket flapping, seems to unnerve drivers and, after a couple of close calls* on my Sunday ride, I'm seriously thinking of putting a 'lollipop' on my mountain bike and racer. Okay, it's only a couple of close calls in amongst several hundreds during the ride, but then it only takes one doesn't it.

Maybe having one of those plastic child seats, with a life-like doll strapped in would help?


*This particular one happened in Lewes at a traffic island that produces an obvious(?) pinch-point. It didn't delay Mr old Arse Cock who sped passed me so close, I could have simply angled my elbow out a little to brush against his windows.

A blonde wig  ;)

Riggers

  • Mine's a pipe, er… pint!
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2013, 12:16:33 pm »
… with real hair!? Actually, if it was a blow-up doll, it would certainly get people slowing down.

Good call Dr. You're to blame for that line of thought.
Certainly never seen cycling south of Sussex

Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2013, 12:35:20 pm »
Having recently returned to France I am astonished all over again at the space given me by local drivers!  It happens every year.
Sic transit and all that..

Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2013, 10:22:24 pm »
A Tricycle works well  :) -see up thread

mcshroom

  • Mushroom
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2013, 10:30:22 pm »
I don't know if I'm imagining this, but on my last few longish rides I've been sporting various YACF jerseys, with the chevrons. I seem to have had fewer close passes.

That's something I noticed on the way to JOG last year. If anything I found the black jersey works better than the yellow one or the red one for some reason.

Of course there is nothing more visible to a motorist than a black police uniform ;)
Climbs like a sprinter, sprints like a climber!

bikey-mikey

  • AUK 6372
  • Yes, I am completely mad ! a.k.a. 333
Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2014, 10:29:39 am »
I always make sure my pony tail is out there, with red bands holding it together...

I get a lot of chavs leering at me, momentarily, before they cotton on I'm a bloke!!!!
I’ve decided I’m not old. I’m 25 .....plus shipping and handling.

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Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2014, 10:58:26 am »
I'm always surprised that we've allowed drivers to have a screen with directions in front of them. It's unsurprising that those who've grown up with Sat-Nav don't see the obvious hazard of such a distraction, they live in a world where undivided attention is the norm.

Re: Scary stats on invisible cyclists
« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2014, 11:06:44 am »
I'm always surprised that we've allowed drivers to have a screen with directions in front of them. It's unsurprising that those who've grown up with Sat-Nav don't see the obvious hazard of such a distraction, they live in a world where undivided attention is the norm.
Don't you mean divided attention is the norm?
Pleasure spreads out on the map and the knapsack is full of joy.