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Tips for getting seen on busy-ish roundabouts

BDFunBDFun Posts: 67
edited November 2013 in Commuting general
There are a few roundabouts I encounter during my commute, with a couple being quite busy, and I need to turn right on it. Even though I am cautious on the roundabout, I've found some drivers seem to just not see me and have to stop very suddenly. It's always the drivers that enter the roundabout just before the exit I need to take (so the entrance opposite to the entrance I took).

I've got bright yellow jacket on, and two bright lights which are angled down a bit so they are hitting the ground around 5-10m ahead so as to not dazzle drivers. Perhaps these aren't angled up away from the ground enough, but even at the angle they are at it is very bright to look at.

Maybe I need a helmet torch to shine at drivers at the entrances to the roundabout?

Any tips would be appreciated.

Edit - I navigate the roundabout as if I were a car. So I occupy the middle of the correct lane, and indicate.

Posts

  • InitialisedInitialised Posts: 3,047
    edited January 2013
    Ride primary in the lane you need to be in if you were in a car. Being seen on the road is more about being where drivers look than dressing up as Reflectoman or Captain DayGlo. When your driving do you routinely look in the gutter?

    Be assertive getting there well before the roundabout if there's a car behind you then emerging cars may see you as they see it or at least wait for it if they missed you.

    Make eye contact ( a helmet light can help here) with drivers entering from the left assume they haven't seen you until you get eye contact back shake your head at them or signal to stop if they look like pulling out and you don't think they have room or time. A function of the human visual system is to quickly spot faces that are looking at them use this to your advantage.

    Keep checking both shoulders as a driver that knows they are being watched is more likely to respond positively to your presence.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • BDFunBDFun Posts: 67
    Ride primary in the lane you need to be in if you were in a car. Being seen on the road is more about being where drivers look than dressing up as Reflectoman or Captain DayGlo. When your driving do you routinely look in the gutter?

    Be assertive getting there well before the roundabout if there's a car behind you then emerging cars may see you as they see it or at least wait for it if they missed you.

    Make eye contact ( a helmet light can help here) with drivers entering from the left assume they haven't seen you until you get eye contact back shake your head at them or signal to stop if they look like pulling out and you don't think they have room or time.

    Keep checking both shoulders as a driver that knows they are being watched is more likely to respond positively to your presence.

    Just updated my original post with regards to how I navigate the roundabout. I navigate it as if I were a car, so I would occupy the middle of the correct lane and indicate.

    Any recommendations for decent helmet lights that don't cost a fortune (< £100)?
  • InitialisedInitialised Posts: 3,047
    A cheap LED torch and something to hold it on in roughly your line of vision might help.

    I find I can tell when they haven't seen me from their head movement, when I get that impression I slow a little and move further right until they acknowledge. My main lamp is angled left slightly.

    Of course it may be that they see you but think bike = slow in which case looking fast, up on the pedals, attack position may help.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    Sit 'tall', makes you far more obvious, use a lower powered front light pointing at eyeline to catch attention.
  • andy9964andy9964 Posts: 930
    A cheap LED torch and something to hold it on in roughly your line of vision might help..

    This is what I did. A cheap LED front light from Poundland sits nicely in the centre groove on my helmet. Some electrical tape holds it firmly in place. Surprisingly bright too, I keep it on flash mode and the two AAA batteries have lasted for ages
    (The grey tape was just to stop the glare from the "halo" flashing when I used it as a main light, gave me a headache)

    2013-01-31105515.jpg
  • BDFun wrote:
    Any recommendations for decent helmet lights that don't cost a fortune (< £100)?

    Search for "snap on head lamp" on ebay. I bought a head lamp for less than £20, removed the elastic strapping and tie-wrapped the lamp unit and battery unit to my (MTB) lid. The lamp unit fits nicely on the front under the visor and battery pack sits firmly on the back so it doesn't upset the weight balance too much either.

    As for riding through the roundabout, echo what has been said above. Be big and assertive - if you ride to close to the edge of lanes, this gives the car driver all the encouragement they need to come passed you!

    The head light works really well as 1. The drivers specifically know you're looking at them and wondering what the heck they're up to and if they've seen you and 2. Eyes are naturally attracted to light, so having a "flash mode" will be a bonus and draw attention to your presence.
  • unixnerdunixnerd Posts: 2,864
    Maybe I need a helmet torch to shine at drivers at the entrances to the roundabout?

    I have an AA Maglite with an LED upgrade on a NiteIze headband, it's light and waterproof. Looking at drivers always get you noticed at junctions and I'd not be without it. Handy for looking at your speedo or working on the bike too.
    http://www.strathspey.co.uk - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • pete_spete_s Posts: 213
    Not to sound like I'm trolling, but my advice would be to ride on the path if there is one and you're that worried about not being seen. Just make sure you're aware of pedestrians on it and always give them way or ride on a grass verge when passing them.
  • Right then!

    1st of all utterly ignore that previous post regarding using the cycle lane.

    Why? :evil:

    Well copy this location into google maps and turn on street view

    51.394995,-1.326065

    It's the Andover Road Roundabout in Newbury as an example.

    The cycle path is a pathetic after thought added in by some cretinous moron in the council and runs round the outside of the RB. Unless the other vehicles are going where you are going then you are going to get left hooked crushed and killed.

    At Roundabouts always do as you would in a motor vehicle. Give plenty of time to come out of the cycle lane IF IN IT, signal your intent and join the rest of the traffic in the correct lane for the exit that you need to take.

    Mount a light on your bars and also mount a smaller light on your head that flashes, but keep it 10 degrees beneath the horizon when looking level. If you need to you can always "Chin Up" and eyeball the cretin who looks like he/she might pull out on you.

    Best regards

    Aerozine50
    "Commuterised" Specialized Rockhopper Disc 2004.
    FCN #7 - Skinny tyres and Cleats.
    1962 Rory O'Brien Roadie Lightweight. (but heavy by todays standards!)
    FCN #4
    2007 Specialized Roubaix Expert.
    FCN # 1/2 - Cobbly racing tyres and MTB cleats.
  • pete_spete_s Posts: 213
    Aerozine50 wrote:
    Right then!

    1st of all utterly ignore that previous post regarding using the cycle lane.

    I advised to use the path. Presumably the OP doesn't ride in or next to a cycle lane, hence their anxiety about not being seen on the road.
    Aerozine50 wrote:
    It's the Andover Road Roundabout in Newbury as an example.

    The cycle path is a pathetic after thought added in by some cretinous moron in the council and runs round the outside of the RB. Unless the other vehicles are going where you are going then you are going to get left hooked crushed and killed.

    It looks sort of Dutch but something's been lost in translation as it's travelled over the North Sea. This type of system, albeit better implemented, are how the big roundabouts are in the Netherlands.
  • Thanks, I forgot you meant the dutch system. Am I correct in hearing that there are a form of rumble barrier separating the dutch paths from the carriageway? Thus I can see them being safer.

    However here in the UK it is the law of the jungle and the local councils dont give a monkeys. Neither does your average "Should have left earlier and now I'm being held up and shall take it out on those pesky cyclists" motorist.

    Best regards and sorry for being quite so aggressive, but I firmly believe the mantra "Stay Angry - Stay Safe"


    Regards

    Paul
    "Commuterised" Specialized Rockhopper Disc 2004.
    FCN #7 - Skinny tyres and Cleats.
    1962 Rory O'Brien Roadie Lightweight. (but heavy by todays standards!)
    FCN #4
    2007 Specialized Roubaix Expert.
    FCN # 1/2 - Cobbly racing tyres and MTB cleats.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    Aerozine50 wrote:
    Best regards and sorry for being quite so aggressive, but I firmly believe the mantra "Stay Angry - Stay Safe"
    Ouch ...

    personally I'd rather go for "Stay Alert - Stay Safe" ... but hey - if you don't want to enjoy your ride then that's your choice! ;)
  • I am trying spoke lights to give some impression of speed for those drivers who would otherwise see me as 2 headlights until their lights pick up my reflective clothing. The lights are pretty noticeable from all angles in the dark and drivers dip headlights very early on unlit roads. Since the clocks went back I'm not obvious enough in town in the early evening light, I had 2 startled drivers pull out on me tonight. I'm changing routes and avoiding mini roundabouts, it's always mini roundabouts where I seem to be invisible.
  • Andy9964 wrote:
    2013-01-31105515.jpg

    The bananas must help too!
    Shut up, knees!

    Various Boardmans, a Focus, a Cannondale and an ancient Trek.
  • I was worried about not being seen by cars side on when riding at night, such as when I'm going straight across on a crossroads, so I fitted some spoke reflectors and they seem to do a good job. As you are moving, and because wheels are quite big, they are pretty noticeable and I also think they are a bit unusual so stand out even more.

    Got mine from ALDI last year but I saw them in Halfords for 5 or 6 quid.
  • Stevo_666Stevo_666 Posts: 45,345
    Couple of ideas:
    - I have lights that shine light sideways to some extent - Niterider Ultrfazers at the front with little clear windows in the side of the light housing and Cateye LD-1100 at the back which has a 270 degree clear 'window'
    - Some tryes (mine are Conti Sport Contacts) have refelctive strips on the tyre walls so will get you seen a little bit sooner by cars coming round towards you.
    Whippet
    Bruiser
    Panzer
    Commuter

    "I spent most of my money on birds, booze and fast cars: the rest of it I just squandered." [George Best]
  • Generally I find the approach you use of navigating as a car is the best. However one alternative as a last resort I occasionally use is to use a vehicle as a shield by biking inches from the vehicle in front, ideally putting them between me and any joining traffic. Even if you're not seen cars normally leave a couple of bike lengths between another car.

    You've definitely got to have a good idea what the shield vehicle is going to do on the junction and be aware that catching a glimpse of you might cause them to react unpredictably. "F*** What's that" <swerve/brake><squish>

    Disclaimer: don't blame me if you get flattened by a bus - just 'cos it's worked for me doesn't mean it's right for you.

    A better alternative may be to find a safer route that doesn't mean you have to cross this round a bout
  • I navigate a quite a few major roundabouts (incl some motorway ones) when riding north out of London on club runs or solo. What works for me is,
    1. Riding in the centre of the lane very assertively,
    2. Maintaining a high speed, ideally the speed of the motor traffic,
    3. Looking around regularly,
    4. Making eye contact with any potential threats,
    5. If a car starts to pull out or if I believe the driver may not have seen me, I make myself "bigger" by holding up my left index finger.
    6. If the driver continues to pull out, I wag my finger, and if that fails, I point sharply at the road in front of them like I am ordering a dog to stop! This actually works surprisingly well. It also makes me chuckle.
    7. If a driver insists on trying to kill me, in so far as it is possible I roll with their maneuver and try and stay on their outside, avoiding suddenly veering in panic into another lane.
    Superstition begins with pinning race number 13 upside down and it ends with the brutal slaughter of Mamils at the cake stop.
  • 1. Navigate the roundabout like you would driving a car.
    2. Ride in the centre of the lane.
    3. People most likely to kill you will be coming from your left. So make sure you are aware of them, sit up and make yourself look big and give them the death stare if they look like they might pull out on you.
    4. Riding fast helps. If you are only going 10-15mph then you might be better off crossing the roundabout via the dodgy cycle path.
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