Cyclists approaching blind crests and corners and overtaking vehicles

Here are a few posts I have made recently concerning the safety aspects involved in cycling towards blind corners and crests.

I am not suggesting that every-one 'do as I do'. I am ultyra conservative, trying to look after my own  life, and the lives of the people in the over-taking car and also those in any unseen cars that come inot view half way through a bad overtake.

My outlook on cycling is to have fun, enjoy the thrill and the fresh air in my face, the satisfaction of completing a long ride. But I don't expect motorists to be perfect. I do expect lots of very bad behaviours from motorists. I do not get angry with them any more. I have just altered my methods of riding so I increase my chances of getting home safely. 

Riding is a risk. Riding on roads is even more risky. We have to live with the bad drivers. We can all choose different ways of doing that. I choose to ride defensively.

So here are a few of my posts that I have gathered together in one thread. 

I apologise if they seem to be very long. You don't have to read them! 

I look forward to any comments, and apologise in advance for the few places where my frustration with fellow riders, and also a any place where I may offend by suggesting riders could, or should, ride more defensively.

We all do it in our own ways. And as with any discussion, there is always the possibility that either myself, or some of the readers of my posts, have a think about things and maybe come to a different way of understanding and partaking in our hobby.

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Notwithstanding the mockery I do agree with John on the importance of a good mirror.  I have had MYRRICLE brand mirrors on my bikes for over 30 years and highly recommend them. Two of my bikes have these mirrors, a hybrid with handle bar extensions where I have adapted on old 'original' style myrricle to fit on the end of the extension and an old touring bike that I have fitted with riser handle bars, the 'mountain bike' style fits on this one.  I also have a new fangled Carbon road bike with the gear levers in the brake handles which makes it trickier to fit a myrricle mirror and I instead have a small zefal spy mirror on the handle bar end.  No where near as good but better than no mirror at all.  I think the myrricle company have solved the problem of fitting their mirrors on these modern brake/gear levers but still looks a bit tricky to fit for an old codger like me with limited technical skills.

Notina, I stopped and made a cuppa coffee for a husband wife team riding from Perth to the Gold Coast, a few weeks ago. Met them a couple hundred km short of the WA border.
I noticed that they both had excellent big flat mirrors fitted to their bars, but not plugged into the end of the bar, as we have.
Am friends with them on Facebook, and had a great day out with them when they arrived in Adelaide.
So my plan is to get in contact on the Messenger and ask her exactly what mirrors they were. They obviously have a wrap around fixture to attach to the bar. 
But of course they need to be jutting out side-ways enough to be able to see past the forearms! So need to do that.
They may even be MYRRICLE mirrors!
And thanks for that, will look up MYRRICLE on the Google too.

Checked on line and realised I had misspelt the name, actually spelt MIRRYCLE.  Long time since I last bought one, but should have checked first !

I have a Mirrycle mirror on my MTB (fits into the end of the bar) and it's pretty good, although it's a curved surface. It has ample range for the areas that I cycle in. I bought mine at Bio Mechanics (free plug!) but I see they're available on ebay at reasonable prices.

>I prefer to keep my head on a swivel, checking behind often

I always thought that being forced to be looking over your shoulder was a perjorative.

I won't start a thread for this, but just this morning I had a Mitsubishi SUV actually cross double lines as he swerved towards me just before the 1st hairpin on Norton Summit.

He was overtaking the invisible rider.

If I posted the video, I would just get blamed for riding the middle of the road.

Good point Michael, it's not just the traffic coming from behind that can 'get' you!

But knowing that now, I can see that my defensive attitude, and defensive tactic of moving right over to left if I see a car approaching from behind, in the 200m or so before a blind corner/crest, is also going to be needed in terms of any car doing a bad over-take towards me.

I had not really thought about that one!

It wasn't an overtake. I was coming down and just cleared the hairpin as I took the normal line. There was no-one else around. He was approaching the hairpin and there was no riders coming up that he needed to go around. It was just a deliberate swerve towards me.

I checked my rear camera and after he cleared me he went back into the lane. So it wasn't to get a better line approaching the hairpin.

Descending and keeping far left is virtually impossible as the road is usually in poor condition and full of hazards on the far left side and there is often no shoulder as an escape road in case you invite a dangerous overtake (which you will almost always do in that situation).

Oh. I was just going on the bit that said "He was overtaking the invisible rider."

I thought you meant that the rider was invisible to you, being around the corner ahead, and that driver had left it far too late to overtake, completing the overtake as they we coming around that blind corner.

Yes, fast down hill descents, and slow climbs, along mountain roads are one of the more problematic situations for cyclsts!

I was watching a video some-one put ip recently, as they rode down Norton Summit, probably on a Saturday or Sunday morning I think, because of the many bike riders.

I was thinking that it would be 'murder' for motorists trying to go in either direction - all the slow cylcists they would have to overtake, sometimes in big groups, going up the hill. Let alone the odd downhill racr cyclist that misjudges speed and ability coming down, and drifts over the centre line on a 'lefty' or tries to widen the radius by hitting the apex on a 'righty' and actually crossing the centre line!

I wonder if the council, or the Roads Department, will ever close the road to motorists, between say 6am and 11am on a Saturday and Sunday. I don't think I saw one car anyway in that video. So the locals obviously take other routes on those days.

But I can see the danger if some one other than a local does not see the Road closed sign and proceeds up/down the road. But cyclists should be staying left anyway I suppose to avoid other cyclists coming around blind corners.

The problem I have with this discussion is not that it is about defensive riding but that to be defensive sometimes you need to be assertive. For example, instead of moving over as far to the left as you can get before a blind corner or crest once you hear a car coming from behind, I find moving into the middle of the lane generally slows the driver down because they can see there could be a collision - instead of making room for them so they don't feel they have to slow down at all - and then moving over at the last moment. What you have done by doing this is taken control of the situation, slowed the driver down and given yourself somewhere to go when they get up to your level on the road. If there is absolutely no room then I just duck onto the dirt and may even dismount - especially if it is a big truck. Not because I have to, but because it is easier for me to do that than expect the driver to unreasonably slow their vehicle to a crawl just because I am (effectively) hogging the road! Give the driver the thumbsup so they know you are trying to respect their right to expect to be able to get to their destination without too much inconvenience. That way we all respect each other.

I certainly agree with everything you said in the last half of this post. "If there is absolutely . . . . " And I do the same. (Except I have never bothered with a thumbs up to the driver. Maybe I need to give that a go too lol.)

Are you talking about the cyclist moving over to the left at the last moment, to let the motorist keep going?

If so, that is certainly not what I do. I don't leave it till the last moment. I use my mirror well before the blind point, and make sure I move over well before the motorist is 100m behind me. (100m is about the distance a car travelling at 80km/hr needs to start moving across the centre line with out swerving across). By making my move early the motorist can see that I have reacted to his approach and so does not have to move right over to the right, or maybe not wholly across the centre line.

I have three trigger points for MUST CHECK THE MIRROR . . .
 - blind corner up ahead
 - blind crest up ahead
 - oncoming car (and narrow road)

(As well as checking the mirror every 10 seconds or so, and more frequently if traffic is heavy of course.

And I have my mirror mounted on the top bar, not far from my eyes, not down low on the end of the drops, or on the frame, as many riders do. Mind you I would estimate about 50% or riders have no mirror at all! Ridiculous!

So the time that I am not looking ahead, checking the mirror, is a minimum.
Unlike the effort and danger required in turning your head and getting a good view of the road 300 to 400m behind the bike. You need to know when the car is coming from a good 300m behind to give yourself time to decide if any defensive action is required. Especially if you are doing 40km/hr with a tail breeze, or down a hill!

And for riders without mirrors and have to turn their head . . 

There are four issues with 'head' turning

 - it is so inconvenient they hardly ever do it (out on the open road). Certainly not every 10 seconds,

 - You often only get the head turned far enough to be using peripheral vision (especially when you get older and stiffer lol), 

 - Unless you are an expert rider, in turning your head your shoulders also can turn and since your arms and hands are connected to your shoulders, the bike can move over to the right. Dangerous!

 - It takes a lot longer to turn your head far enough and then t let your eyes focus on the road up to 300m behind, than just glancing in a good sized mirror mounted on the top bar.)

So yes, with the help of my mirror, and my TRIGGER to check the mirror early, i certainly am not leaving it to the last moment to move over to the left.

And the word  "generally" is significant. I would use the same word, but in the opposite sense, from what I have observed.

i.e. Generally, if I stay on the road, motorists do not slow down behind me when I approach a blind point!.

Generally, on about 80% of occasions, or even more, they do overtake when it is not safe to do so!

And my definition of when it is safe to overtake is about 400m before the blind point.

Of course where the rider is in relation to the overtaking car, at the point where another car suddenly appears from over the crest, or around the corner, makes a big difference as to whether that overtaking car, and the oncoming car, are the only vehicles involved in a possible collision.

But it could be the cyclist being hit by the overtaking car, when that car has not yet passed the cyclist, and suddenly realises it has to quickly get back to the left!

This is why I say the danger section, particularly for the a cyclist is whenever they are within about 200m from the blind point. Taking into account that they may first be aware of the car when it is 300m behind them and they are continuing to ride towards the blind point while the car might tale another 12 ro 14 seconds to be actually passing them. By that time, at 15km/hr, the cyclist  has travelled another 50m to 60m towards the corner!

That is a lot further down the hill (or before the corner) than most cyclists would understand.

I think most cyclists think they are safe until they are almost up to the corner, maybe only 30m from the corner!

No, 200m is where they should check behind and start to think about their actions!

Oh and I'll add - instead of closing roads to traffic at certain times of the day so riders can meander slowly up - say Greenhill, or Old Norton summit road - why not close certain roads to cyclists at peak times (like 7:30am - 9:30am and 4:30pm - 6:30pm). That way, those drivers who need to use the roads to get to work etc have a clear run, and at any other time they can expect to have to slow down and be inconvenienced by slow cyclists. There are plenty of alternative roads for cyclists when Greenhill would be closed and plenty of alternatives for motorists when it is open to cyclists! win-win and respect! it would be like a morning/afternoon clearway (which there is on Greenhill just past the feathers)


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