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Someone just posted this on our local cycling list serv.

It's about Motion Induced Blindness. Their point was that fixing your gaze on something on the dashboard can blind you to things that are moving (like bicycle near you).

There are some things we can do to help this:

  • Wearing a bike light even during the day (flashing style)
  • Wear brighter colors
  • Maybe bright paint/decals on your bike.

But I wanted to see if there was any research/stats on the subject before I increased the local visual pollution (with my light, etc.)

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    By definition, if you are more visible, you will be seen more, and will be less likely to be hit by a car. Do you really need statistics to tell you that? – zenbike May 1 '12 at 18:39
  • I doubt that there's anything you can really "sink your teeth into". – Daniel R Hicks May 2 '12 at 1:08
  • @zenbike -- Being visible and being seen are two different things, like talking and listening. – Daniel R Hicks May 2 '12 at 1:09
  • If this doesn't get any good answers with data backing them up, perhaps this could be migrated to Skeptics. – Goodbye Stack Exchange May 2 '12 at 2:36
  • @DanielRHicks: How would you measure the difference? – zenbike May 2 '12 at 4:53
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The following study, carried out in 2009, seems to have attempted to answer the same question:

Kwan I, Mapstone J. Interventions for increasing pedestrian and cyclist visibility for the prevention of death and injuries. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD003438. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003438.pub2.

This looks like a meta study, the full text of the article contains links to the various sources they examined and the articles they found. Their conclusion was that the research is inconclusive: "the effect of visibility aids on pedestrian and cyclist safety remains unknown".

If you go beyond visibility and look at changes you can make to your appearance and their effect on driver behaviour then you might like the 2006 research on overtaking by Dr Ian Walker who has sparked some controversy with his research concluding that cars leave cyclists more room if the cyclist does not wear a helmet or if they grow their hair long.

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