Friday Discussion - Looking back

martint235

Dog on a bike
Location
Welling
Just to kick off a "discussion" (hey we need a reason for a virtual bar later!). How often do you look behind you? I read one post on here that said every 20 seconds is about right.

Now I tend to look behind me when I want to do something, pull round a parked car, turn either right or left etc but normally I will look behind once every 3 or 4 mins. I find that in London traffic, at the speeds I go, what's happening in front of me is far more important.

Views please?
[Off to get popcorn]
 

BentMikey

Rider of Seolferwulf
Location
South London
Every 3 or 4 minutes? Blimey, that's dodgy.
 

NigC

New Member
Location
Surrey
Well OK, but I'm not gonna be the barman this time :biggrin:

Obviously, looking around before making any manouvre is a given (isn't it?). And when there's traffic about at the time I'm preparing for that manouvre, I'll be checking back a LOT and making sure I know that they know that I know that they know I'm there and planning to do something.

Pinch points are another place I look back a lot when there's traffic around.

I have started looking back more often when on a straight road now - probably once every minute or two though as most of my journey is outside of rush-hour traffic.

EDIT: Actually, ALL of my journey is outside of rush-hour traffic. But a lot of it is also on quieter back roads, so a fair proportion of it is done with no traffic at all - I like it that way :biggrin:
 
OP
martint235

martint235

Dog on a bike
Location
Welling
I'll be the barman today although advanced warning, I'll be starting early. I'm off all next week for my birthweek so I'll be winding down from 1ish onwards! :biggrin:

I forgot pinch points, I do check there. This subject just came into my mind as quite a lot of route is straight, red route (ie no parked cars) and fairly fast and I thought there's no way I look round every 20 secs.
 

GrumpyGregry

Here for rides.
observe, signal, lifesaver 1, start manoeuvre, lifesaver 2, complete manoeuvre, observe.

Is pretty much how I do it. But my commute is largely rural and I have mirrors for long distance observations
 

Norm

Guest
I've got mirrors and, after the 20 second comment a few days back, I've tried to figure out how often I use them. Of course, that's a Shrödinger's Cat thingy, because the act of thinking about how often I do it is likely to make me do it more often, but I reckon I check the mirrors every 5 - 10 secs if riding in a straight line and I do a life-saver whenever I change position on the road.

I'm often surprised by how little some people check when they post headcam videos.
 

Matthames

Über Member
Location
East Sussex
Every 20-30 seconds sounds about right for me. I particularly do more rear observation when I am coming across a hazard or I am about to change speed or direction. I also do a lot more rear observation when I am negotiating a roundabout as I like to have a 360 picture of what is going on.

I haven't actually read the IAM book yet, but I do know about the 'system'. The most important phase in the 'system' is the information phase of which observation plays a major part.
 

fimm

Veteran
Location
Edinburgh
I tend to look back if I'm about to manouver, or if I'm reaching a pinch point or similar. I wouldn't look back much if travelling fast in a straight line along a straight road.
I do have an problem looking back, though. My right eye is my bad eye, so my peripheral vision is really bad on that side, so I have to get my head a long way round in order to see anything useful...
 

Rob3rt

Man or Moose!
Location
Manchester
I dont look back enough, the road I ride has to many pot holes so im fixated on whats ahead, usually I'll look before manouvering, then repeat a couple more times so the driver notices im about to do something, then I will signal check they noticed it and are backing off a little then manouvre, and continue on my way.

This is of course what I recall doing, but in reality, things may differ. I dont make a concious effort, I just prefer to be un-injured, second nature.
 

ManiaMuse

Veteran
Matthames said:
Every 20-30 seconds sounds about right for me. I particularly do more rear observation when I am coming across a hazard or I am about to change speed or direction. I also do a lot more rear observation when I am negotiating a roundabout as I like to have a 360 picture of what is going on.
But isn't the most dangerous area of of a roundabout traffic coming from the left not seeing you/ignoring your priority? At least that's what I was told when learning to drive and I apply it when I'm cycling by eyeing up every vehicle about to join with suspicion. No-one should overtake you on a rounadbout especially if you take the lane and cycle reasonably swiftly so I like to focus mainly on the hazard from the left.

In normal cycling I look back when appropriate because of a hazard (parked cars/sideroad/overtaking cyclist etc) and when I need to take primary or change lanes. I check once, signal if necessary, check again, start to pull out check again and then continue on my way.

Sometimes I check more often when I want to change lanes not immediately but want to judge whether I should move now to get in a gap or wait for traffic to pass. It's amazing how doing a few shoulder checks in succession generally makes drivers hold back to let you in or hurry up to overtake you. In either case that avoids the annoying situation where they start to overtake but then match your speed and prevent you from changing lanes.

If I haven't been overtaken for a while and I anticipate another batch of traffic coming up soon because of a junction or pedestrian crossing I will do a check as well.
 

BigSteev

Senior Member
Norm said:
I'm often surprised by how little some people check when they post headcam videos.
It's possible that being aware they're making a video they try to minimise head movement to reduce those annoying motion sickness inducing moments it causes when watching the video afterwards.
 

Origamist

Legendary Member
Location
Sandbach
To a large extent the conditions will dictate how frequently I look behind. This could be 3-4 times in 10 secs when manoeuvering for example, but it may be considerably less in other cirumstances.

Before you check behind make sure it is not infelicitous to do so. Lifesavers are important, but you should not be solely relying on them - have a good look beforehand - you might want to take one hand off the bars to make this easier. In addition, looking back also helps to signal intent and can catch a road users attention.

It's also worth having a look behind on the approach to side roads - I've avoided a few left hooks over the years by doing this.
 

rh100

Well-Known Member
ManiaMuse said:
But isn't the most dangerous area of of a roundabout traffic coming from the left not seeing you/ignoring your priority? At least that's what I was told when learning to drive and I apply it when I'm cycling by eyeing up every vehicle about to join with suspicion. No-one should overtake you on a rounadbout especially if you take the lane and cycle reasonably swiftly so I like to focus mainly on the hazard from the left.

In normal cycling I look back when appropriate because of a hazard (parked cars/sideroad/overtaking cyclist etc) and when I need to take primary or change lanes. I check once, signal if necessary, check again, start to pull out check again and then continue on my way.

Sometimes I check more often when I want to change lanes not immediately but want to judge whether I should move now to get in a gap or wait for traffic to pass. It's amazing how doing a few shoulder checks in succession generally makes drivers hold back to let you in or hurry up to overtake you. In either case that avoids the annoying situation where they start to overtake but then match your speed and prevent you from changing lanes.

If I haven't been overtaken for a while and I anticipate another batch of traffic coming up soon because of a junction or pedestrian crossing I will do a check as well.
My fear at RAB's is being rear ending while waiting to join, it's happened a few times to me in a car and I would hate for it to happen to me on a bike. The guy behind is too busy looking at the traffic coming around looking for a gap, and for some reason assumes you would have gone also. Has happened when coming off a side road onto a busy road aswell.

As for looking back, I have to admit it seems to be on manoeuvres only, I really should do it more often. I may put my mirror on the hybrid, but when I used it before on the MTB I mostly got views of my elbow, and watching that took concentration away from the road ahead, didn't seem as natural as using mirrors in a car.
 
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