Flashback Friday: Do we see each other? Check again

As mentioned the other day, while my partner is really enjoying her new bike commute to work, it’s not without its challenges. At one crossroads intersection nearby, she regularly finds motorists driving across her path (despite her being on the priority road), and just yesterday in town she had a bus attempt to turn left (on a red arrow no less) as she went past. Despite having flashing lights and hi-vis accessories on her, it appears that (in)visibility of people cycling is still a fairly common issue. It was probably with this in mind that nearly 9 years ago the City Council decided to do some safety campaigning reminding people to look again, as described in the post from Nov 2014. Perhaps it’s time for another campaign?

When I investigated cycling fatalities in NZ a while back, a striking feature I noted was that more than half of the collisions involved a driver who did not even see the cyclist beforehand (or in a few cases, saw them too late). It’s a classic story that many of us have heard: “Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You” – aka SMIDSY. And for those who think that we should all be decked out in hi-vis to improve the odds – in my analysis it made no difference to the likelihood of being seen beforehand (which makes me think that the real issue is “Sorry mate, I didn’t Look For You”…).

With that in mind, the Christchurch City Council has started a new “Do we see each other?” campaign, targeting looking for other road users. The scientific name is inattentional blindness, probably made most famous in the cycling world by this road safety advert.

The new road safety campaign

The City Council have personalised it by highlighting the stories of two road users, a cyclist and a truckie, involved in real incidents in Christchurch. Using bus displays, radio adverts, and the Trpt for Chch website, their stories are told, with the urging for road users (esp. motorists) to “check again” before making your manoeuvre.

I think this is a great approach, and I applaud the truck driver in particular for coming forward to lend his side of the story. As always, the challenge is how many people will heed the message and take a second look. At least in Christchurch we already have a reasonable number of people out there cycling, so I think our drivers are probably better (in the main) at expecting to see people on their bikes around town.

And while those of us who cycle will appreciate it if our fellow road users do check more carefully before crossing our paths, it’s probably a timely reminder that when riding you should also take a second look before you make a manoeuvre like changing lanes or crossing a road.

What do you think of this cycle safety campaign?

4 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Do we see each other? Check again”

  1. I find that simply being aware of cars is not enough.

    Sometimes I have to stare straight into and at a driver’s face for them to observe my existence. I almost always do this at any intersection where the car has to give way to me, and even then I need to resort to the airhorn at least once a week.

    Another useful technique is to read the “body-language” of the car. Most often a car that is about to do a left turn will slow down, but if the traffic is already slow they might just turn and hook you. The giveaway is that the driver will drift to the left in preparation for the turn, so look for cars that are 20cm too far left.

    Pre-reacting (preacting?) is a skill to develop.

  2. There’s no single way to stay safe.

    In potential conflict situations – including all intersections – I ALWAYS try to eyeball the driver, and OFTEN acknowledge safe crossing with a friendly simple wave (even when I have right of way). I don’t know whether it works or not but it makes me feel safer and more relieved / less threatened. And I feel it possibly helps with a connection between those protected by their metal cages and those of us who have to live by their alertness.

    And I ALWAYS ride clear of the dooring zone.

    When a danger situation is developing I am not averse to using my inbuilt always-available warning device – I SHOUT LOUDLY! And I prepare early to slow down and/or change direction.

    I take paths wherever I can and use my bike bell or voice “ding-a-ling” to nicely warn other bike users of my presence.

    I don’t know if it helps or not, but I often wear hi-vis, especially at night. And two bike lights are better than one (they seem to fail often…)

  3. The standard of driving in Christchurch is so chronic and hardly anyone keeps to the speed limit. When I was young traffic enforcement was done by the ChCh City Council and there seemed to be traffic cops all around the place, you dare not speed or not Stop to a standstill at a compulsory stop or you would end up with a ticket. Today there is so little enforcement that motorists drive with impunity and behave accordingly. Maybe traffic enforcement should be given back to the CCC, I’m sure it would soon pay for itself and maybe even help reduce our rates with the current standard of driving !!

  4. Relying on driver behaviour is not a safe system approach and we will continue to kill and seriously injure cyclists until we have a safe system of fully protected cycleways.

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