Wish you were there – Video postcard from Friday night

Some people have reasons. Some people have excuses. Some people just didn’t even know about it. And now, through the magic of the internet, all of you can live vicariously through a condensed version of Friday evening’s critical mass ride. Hopefully you can all join us next time. As awesome as the video is, being there was way more awesome. Totally.




12 thoughts on “Wish you were there – Video postcard from Friday night

  1. Simon Kennett

    Wow! Some mighty impressive low-vis there. I’m guessing Atom’s camera & bike light set-up gives us a feel for how conspicuous a rider is when viewed from behind the tinted windscreen of an SUV (hopefully without their fluffy dice blocking the view of the guy who seems determined to ride three-abreast on the right-hand edge of the lane).

    Looks like way more courteous riding that the critical mass of yester-year, but still a ways to go.

    Good luck!


      1. atom

        What the camera sees is objective. What other road users see is subjective, and influenced by: attention, experience, training, mood, demeanor/attitude, drugs (including prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs!), alcohol, distractions, sleep, etc, etc.

        Whether someone just got flowers or just got dumped could make the difference between whether or not they “see” you.

        Check these out after a few drinks, or while talking on the phone, or after bedtime, or when you’re upset –

        Bicycle lights. They’re not just a good idea, they’re the law. They don’t “make drivers see you” but they certainly put the odds in your favor… They help drivers see you. They make it more likely that drivers will see you.


  2. Yeah, I made a mental note to invest in more and stronger rear lights. Quite pleased with the reflective patches on the back of the Ortlieb panniers though. And I do suspect the camera’s light sensitivity is playing a role here.

    Courtesy: twas awesome, I thought. The lovely co-ordinated group halt at the pedestrian crossing at the foot of Courtenay Place must have been good for PR.


    1. atom

      cameras can be weird with light sensitivity, but nowhere near as weird as human perception of what is being seen – http://www.youtube.com/user/dothetest#g/u

      reflectives are good when… you want to be seen by other road users… and they have their headlights turned on… and the headlights are properly aimed… and they are close enough that the light reaches you… and they either have high-beams on or they’re close enough that their low beams are illuminating your reflectives which, on ortlieb panniers, are about 50-60cm above the road surface.

      the headlights on many cars are barely that high above the road to start with, and the low beams are pointed down towards the road so they don’t blind other road users.

      so, in some cars, even with properly aimed low-beams, those reflective patches won’t even be seen if they’re right behind you, because the patches are already higher than the headlights. if the headlights are high enough to start with, then the visibility of those patches depends on distance, and the difference between being visible and not being visible is as sharp as the headlights’ cutoff.

      of course if the car has high-beams turned on, those same patches should be visible from a few hundred meters away, but around CBD there’s not much need for high-beams.

      another factor is that the ortlieb reflective patches don’t work when they’re wet – http://www.flickr.com/photos/63669447@N03/6001257870/in/photostream

      reflective ankle straps are closer to the ground making them more likely to be illuminated by low-beams, and moving in a way that reveals “biomotion” and conveys useful information that this is a bicycle, not just some random patches of light.

      my personal favorite lights around $50NZ – PDW “Danger Zone”, PDW Radbot-1000, and Serfas TL-200. The PBSF Turbo is a great light, but the second manufacturing run should be much more reliable than what’s currently available.

      also check out GWRC/Simon’s findings – http://www.gw.govt.nz/be-safe-be-seen/

      and some good info about visibility and conspicuity – http://www.mechbgon.com/visibility/


      1. Simon Kennett

        I agree that reflective ankle straps are the ultimate, but don’t write off reflective material above waist-height.

        I did a quick test of my car’s headlight scatter on low beam (when we did our first lights test last year). A small percentage of light is spread up to a height of over two metres – check it out next time you’re in a car after dark. You’ll find the head lights pick up modern street signs (which are reflective) from a distance of about 25m, with the lights on low beam.

        Some of the more modern head lights have an assymetric beam pattern on low beam – they are designed to have a lower beam for on-coming traffic and higher beam on their side of the road:

        Still need brilliant bike lights of course – there’s the odd muppet out there driving with their lights off.


      2. My cycle shoes (old pair of Specialized BG shoes) have reflective patches on the heels. Since the feet are visibly moving, they draw the eyes a bit more than a static patch on the bike itself would. That said, the last tyre I bought (a Specialized Armadillo 700cc) actually came with a reflective strip on the sidewall – clearly aimed at the commuter market. Worth looking out for.


      3. atom

        all good stuff, just be aware of the limitations. the reflective patches on most cycling shoes can give a lot of visual information from their motion but can ONLY be seen from behind, and on most shoes they’re tiny. the reflective sidewall tires help to identify a bicycle from the side but offer no advantage from front or rear.

        as simon said, “ankle straps are the ultimate”… part of that is because they provide 360 visibility, but pannier bags may hide them.

        at the end of the day, there’s a lot of good stuff out there to increase conspicuity, but no magic bullets.


  3. For the record, I went down at lunchtime and bought an additional rear flashing LED (seatpost mounted), reflective ankle straps, and one of those LED thingies that clips on to your spokes. These are in addition to my existing rear light, reflectors etc.


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