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With ‘Hindsight’, Nike looks to improve bike safety

Posted by on October 22nd, 2008 at 12:04 pm

New Hindsight glasses from Nike.
(Photos: Nike via Gizmodo)

A reader (thanks Austin!) just gave me a heads up on an interesting new product idea from Nike.

Gadget blog Gizmodo reports that the new Hindsight glasses “are designed to do one simple thing: stop cyclists from getting hurt on the roads.”

How do they do this?

“At the extended side of each lens is a carefully arranged high-power Fresnel lens that captures the view to the sides of the wearer’s head, and sends it into the peripheral vision.

…its a clever way of augmenting your normal checking of the road, and avoiding being side-swiped by a fast-moving vehicle that was sitting outside your normal vision zones.”

The glasses are not available to consumers yet, but it’s an interesting idea. I’m not a believer or a fan of using “third eye” or rear-view mirrors while biking*, but I’d definitely give these a try.

*That’s just my personal opinion. For some folks — especially those who are hearing-impaired or who aren’t able to easily move their head around — rear-view mirrors are essential.

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Comments
  • P Finn October 22, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Jonathan,

    Care to elaborate on your distaste for mirrors?

    As you might have noticed, I am a true believer… Responsible roadway users should be aware of their surroundings at all times. In the city, traffic behind oneself is often more relevant than in front. Mirrors also allow cyclists to take the center of the roadway when available, allowing maximum visibility to crosstraffic. “Body language” is often the only way to identify a belligerent or intoxicated driver behind oneself.

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  • Refunk October 22, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Interesting. I could never adjust to mirrors clipped to glasses, handlbars or helmet, either, Jonathan.

    Then I accidently discovered some goofy joke glasses (as in, sold at novelty shops) designed to let ya see behind ya with what appear to be ugly sunglasses. Well, the design is nothing as technical as the Nike concept, in fact, it is hideously geeky (stolen maybe from the movie, Men In Black), but they have inconspicuously mirrored segments on the outside edge of each lens which are only visible to the wearer. Been riding with them for years now because I can see everything on both sides *behind* me with just a little flick of my head. I do have cooler looking shades, but their usage has just devolved to those occasions when I have to drive a car, because these dorky looking things can’t be beat for safety. I would love to try the Nikes, though.

    In the illo above, the rider looks like those glasses ain’t gonna save ‘em from what appears to be a car running a red. When Nike makes glasses that’ll do that, sign me up.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 22, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    “Care to elaborate on your distaste for mirrors?”

    sure. I think folks should become proficient in listening and being aware of their surroundings be fully comfortable in constantly scanning and looking over their shoulders for possible conflicts.

    i worry that third-eye mirrors can be sort of a crutch to replace that aforementioned skill and proficiency.

    i tend to favor simplicity and self reliance over accessories in general.

    that’s just my opinion. I think it’s great if folks like those mirrors and I encourage everyone to give them a try.

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  • T Williams October 22, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Ain’t no amount of vision assistance is gonna help that biker in the picture above…

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  • Lazlo October 22, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    I too …”think folks should become proficient in listening and being aware of their surroundings be fully comfortable in constantly scanning and looking over their shoulders for possible conflicts.” And I use a helmet mounted mirror. I find I can keep an eye on traffic behind me well before I can hear it, or judge its distance looking over the shoulder. I look over my shoulder a lot, but the mirror gives me some prior knowledge of what might be there. Case in point: southbound on N. Greeley where cars enter I-5, and the bike lane crosses. I can keep an eye on overtaking traffic in my mirror, watching for a gap as I approach the crossing, then confirm with a look over the shoulder. The bike lane is so narrow there, that I find it hard to look back long enough to determine the speed of approaching vehicles. I think the mirror makes that crossing safer for me. Just my .02.

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  • Schrauf October 22, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    More likely the cyclist ran the red in that image, no? Just based on my recent experience on the road…

    Cyclists are invincible, and never at fault.

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  • foote October 22, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Schrauf-
    Maybe you should check the picture again. The car clearly has a red.

    The picture is a little strange though. I think the background has been mirrored (or it’s from england) and the car and bike have both been superimposed. Check out the parked cars in the background – they’re going the wrong way.

    Not really relevant to anything i guess. I’m interested in the glasses though. I haven’t ever really like mirrors either. Even when i’ve got them, i end up checking over my shoulder all the time just to be sure nobody’s hanging out in my blindspot.

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  • Peter Noone October 22, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Rain jackets and pants are also a crutch… clothes in general, really.

    Same with glasses protecting my eyes from rain and wind.

    Shoes.

    The bike itself–making it all easy and fast to get around.

    Etc…

    I’m throwing it all away and running around completely nekkid from now on.

    Who’s with me?

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  • Paul in the 'Couv October 22, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I think folks should become proficient in listening and being aware of their surroundings be fully comfortable in constantly scanning and looking over their shoulders for possible conflicts.

    i worry that third-eye mirrors can be sort of a crutch to replace that aforementioned skill and proficiency.

    I’m with you Jonathan, I’ve tried probably 10 different types of mirrors over the years. Invariably, it’s out of adjustment just when I need it; they don’t hold up to frequent stop commuting (helmet off, bike in and out of rack); and under the best of circumstances I still can’t really see very well in them.

    I find I can be aware enough of what is going on around me by listening. This is part of why I use a child seat for my toddler vs. a trailer – my zone of awareness doesn’t feel comfortable with the extra length.

    When I lived in eastern WA and rode on more open back roads and minor highways, I did find a mirror useful, with cars traveling at 75+ mph it was nice to have something to look at (on windy days, it could be difficult to hear cars before they were quite close). Still, I found it very difficult to actually see anything in the mirror very well.

    My opinion YMMV

    Paul in the ‘couve

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  • Ali October 22, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    I was once stopped at a red light, and watched, in my rear-view mirror, a Prius come gliding up beside me. Never heard a whisper.

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  • Pete October 22, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    foote (#7): you’re right, and the stop bars are on the wrong sides of the road.

    I tried helmet-mounted mirrors, but could never shake the habit of turning my head to look into them, kinda like a dog chasing my tail around in circles. Maybe these will help, as I surely wouldn’t mind a rear view on my road bike (my flat-bar has a bar-end that gives me great piece of mind).

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  • matt picio October 22, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    I’d a definite fan of mirrors, though I still look over my shoulder before I leave my line. Much of my riding is on streets with 35+ mph speed limits, and by the time I can hear the car, it’s frequently too late to effectively react.

    Also, having the mirror allows me to keep what’s in front of me in my field of vision when identifying cars that I hear coming up behind me in the city, making it less likely I’ll get blindsided by someone opening a car door or walking out into my path.

    Really, though, the choice of a mirror/no mirror isn’t nearly as important as cultivating a habit of awareness – be as aware as possible when riding on the road: aware of your surroundings, aware of potential threats, aware of the terrain, and of every moving object around you.

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  • Bill October 22, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    FYI: I think these are purely a concept and I doubt that Nike even knows about them. They were done by Billy May, a recent college grad who is looking for work:

    http://www.coroflot.com/billymay

    I say Nike should hire his but and ship him out to PDX…

    –Bill

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  • hanmade October 22, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    How about a mirror that mounts on the helmet just above the eyes, so that when in a crouched position, you can glance up at the mirror and see what is in front of you. I hate to admit it, but I hit the back end of a semi once because I failed to look up often enough. Luckily just tweeked my frame, not my head!

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  • Seth October 22, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Well, as dorky as they are, I use a mirror most of the time. It allows you to keep an eye on the traffic behind you more frequently without having to turn your head more than a few degrees. I have had close calls where I am looking back while something important is happening in front of me…with the mirror, I can look back more frequently AND keep an eye on what is ahead as well.

    Further, you can look longer at the cars behind you if you want to, and ride differently to increase your safety.

    Basic Move: see car approaching from the back. look at L front tire of car relative to yellow line. If the car is not close to the yellow line, give a few wobbles out into the lane a bit…then watch the car L front tire move over the yellow into the other lane – works every time.

    Bottom line – takes a little getting use to, but it is a net benefit to safety.

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  • Paul Tay October 22, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    I’m NOT impressed. Without the rear-view, TFD and EMSA would have already scrapped a two mile trail of colon and intestines off the Broken Arrow Expressway a long long time ago.

    The rear-view is very important because bicyclists need to deal with the fast-approaching hunks of metal, glass, and rubber closing in, NOT moving away.

    For highway biking, I also use earplugs to drop the decibels.

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  • PDXGS October 22, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    I was an anti-mirror rider for years but I recently realized that a mirror is a good way of getting an early heads-up on approaching vehicles. It doesn’t eliminate my head rotation about the neck and my situational awareness needs to remain high but they just give me another tool to check my six o’clock.

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  • BURR October 22, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    I think we should do away with mirrors and headlamps on motor vehicles, and reduce them to an optional accessory for motorists. This would really help ‘level the playing field’.

    LOLz!

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  • JDL October 22, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    I have a mirror mounted on the left end of my flat bar. It’s definitely not a crutch that replaces listening or being aware my my surroundings. Rather, it heightens my awareness by giving me more information about what’s going on behind me.

    I can look in the mirror by moving just my eyes – I don’t have to turn my head at all. So I can glance at what’s behind me and get my eyes back to the front quicker than if I had to turn my head to look over my shoulder and turn it back again.

    The mirror not only helps me see quiet or distant cars approaching, it also helps me see bikes coming up behind me on Portland’s congested bikeways.

    I like my mirror; I wouldn’t ride without it.

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  • Kt October 22, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    I agree with JDL; I have a helmet-mounted mirror, positioned so I can glance into it to see what’s behind me without taking the rest of my attention from the road in front of me.

    I also use it to find the gap in upcoming traffic for when the bike lane goes away, or when I need to leave the bike lane due to hazards…. and I use it in conjunction with the over-the-shoulder head-check.

    I’ve found that my mirror is not a crutch, and that my mirror-use does not diminish my ability to remain aware of my periphery by use of my other senses.

    Of course, I’m not one of those people who rides plugged into their ipod…

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  • Peter October 22, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    i think anything suggesting bikers should wear even more gear is an automatic FAIL.

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  • WriConsult October 22, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    I cannot even comprehend the concept that mirrors would be a crutch. After several years of riding with one, I switched bikes at the beginning of the month and have been temporarily riding without one.

    It’s a good reminder for me that here’s no getting around the fact that if you’re looking back OVER your shoulder, you can’t also be looking FORWARD. In light traffic on isolated roads that’s FINE.

    But in heavy traffic with multiple intersections and complex patterns of movement, even one second of not looking at the road can be trouble. And if you’re preparing to make a left turn, especially in traffic, you have to look over your shoulder, sometimes more than once if you’re trying to find a gap.

    And in heavy traffic, especially when it’s rainy, you often can’t hear everything you need to. The car behind you that you need to hear may be drowned out by the truck in the next lane. As already mentioned, with more and more hybrids (and, soon, full-on EVs) on the road, not all vehicles will be audible even in moderate traffic conditions. Better get used to that.

    Why should I be taking my eyes off the road in FRONT of me — where 90% of the danger is, remember?! — when I can monitor the situation behind me without turning my head? If you don’t think a mirror gives you all the information you need to safely merge or turn left 90%+ of the time, then maybe you need some mirror lessons.

    I can’t believe that any cyclist – remember, as a group we’re pretty quick to complain about inattentive drivers – would disparage the use of a device that allows us to concentrate on what’s in front of us. If you don’t want to use a mirror, fine. I don’t have a problem with that. But please don’t slag on those of us who do as somehow using a “crutch”.

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  • Ken Wetherell October 22, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    My experience with mirrors is that they improve my situational awareness and make me safer. I have two bikes, one with a mirror and the other without (yet). I am much more confident and capable at negotiating traffic with my mirrored bike. For me, it’s about improved performance and capability in traffic.

    For those on the fence or looking for a better system, check out Mirrycle’s products. I use the Mountain Mirrycle, which is a bar-end mounted unit. I just saw that they also make one for drop bars. I really like this mirror! They sell for about $17 and are easy to install. They are also very durable and super adjustable on-the-fly.

    http://www.mirrycle.com/mountainmirrycle.htm

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  • Joe Doebele October 22, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    I don’t think anybody’s mentioned this in the present discussion, so I’ll point out that mirrors offer an additional benefit to the growing ranks of cyclists who are hauling heavy stuff around, particularly if said heavy stuff isn’t perfectly balanced. It’s one thing to look behind you when you’re riding unencumbered, but another to do so with a cast-iron radiator strapped to your longtail. Or maybe it’s just me and my ongoing whiplash from my last crash….

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  • Jason October 22, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    I would agree with Jonathan regarding mirrors on a diamond frame bicycle. Looking back, being aware, and listening are good defensive techniques.

    I recently been doing more recumbent riding and I wouldn’t feel comfortable without mirrors. Maintaining a straight line and looking over the shoulder can be a little tricky.

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  • Schrauf October 22, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    Ah yes, the car has a red. The color looks yellow to me, which would imply the cyclist has a red. But on closer inspection the top light is lit, which of course is always the red light.

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  • Brian Johnson October 22, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Something like this already exists (and has for years).

    It’s called the “ViewPoint” by CycleAware

    http://www.cycleaware.com

    They call it a “mini adjustable spy mirror”. It sticks onto the bottom outside corner of the inside of your sunglasses.

    I’ve not used one myself — I tend to agree with Jonathan — but it’s the most interesting rear-view mirror gadget I’ve seen.

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  • Lisa G. October 23, 2008 at 12:09 am

    I am very happy to have the rear-view as it enables me to move easily with auto traffic especially when making left turns on busy streets. Also it really helps to have a simultaneous view of what’s behind me without having to take the extra time to crane my head around. Timing is the key to safety in traffic. I wouldn’t want to go out without it, you can’t be too safe. Although the EVT (Efficient Velo Tools) mirror I got at Bike Gallery when my cheapie one broke adds a bit too much weight to my helmet. It’s nice and big, though and doesn’t bounce around.

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  • Bill October 23, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Mirrors are a great help to urban biking.

    The main thing they do is give you a picture of what’s about to pass you, so it’s much less startling when it happens.

    For experienced cyclists like Jonathon, that’s not such a big deal — though I have decades of experience and still feel naked without a mirror. For new cyclists in a city, they’re absolutely essential. In my opinion, a lot of novice/non-rider fear of bicycling comes from exactly that: a perception that lots of dangerous surprises are whizzing past you one after the other.

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  • Jenn October 23, 2008 at 9:03 am

    These glasses look cool, I would try them out for sure.

    I ride with a mirror on my sunglasses. It really did become a crutch for me in that I have a hard time turning my head back to check behind me without veering into the car lane, so lately Ive been practicing that. What Ive noticed is the mirror actually gets in my way when I turn around to see behind me. Im thinking maybe a helmet mounted mirror might be better in this respect.

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  • bikey October 23, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Good article Jonathan. The hearing-impaired cycling community really like mirrors as our ears are not very helpful.

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  • Icarus Falling October 23, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I could not agree more that glasses like this, along with mirrors on helmets, are not even close to as good of an idea as many think they are.
    (except for of course proper usage by the hearing impaired cyclists)

    For so many reasons, a couple being;

    Creating a false sense of security.

    Messing with the field of vision you should actually be relying one, the one that involves turning your head.

    Glasses such as this with peripheral views would affect actual normal vision, especially during the time you are getting used to them.

    I could go on and on, but instead I will implore you folks to leave the mirrors and special effects glasses at home, and go out and ride.

    If you need to see what is behind or around you (which you do) turn your head a little and take a look.

    In fact, as compared to gadgets and glasses, turning your head and taking a look doesn’t cost you an extra damn cent.

    And it may just do more to save your life than any gadget could.

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  • Icarus Falling October 23, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    ” I am very happy to have the rear-view as it enables me to move easily with auto traffic especially when making left turns on busy streets. Also it really helps to have a simultaneous view of what’s behind me without having to take the extra time to crane my head around.”

    It is statements like this that point out one of the problems involved in getting used to riding with mirrors.

    “Without having to take the extra time to crane my head around”.

    Turning your head around is exactly what is needed to bicycle safely, regardless of whether you are using a mirror or not.

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  • BURR October 23, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I’d rather ride without my helmet than without my mirror. mirrors are not ‘crutches’ or ‘gadgets’, nor do they create ‘a false sense of security’. they are simple, practical tools to help you be more aware of your surroundings and ride safer.

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  • BURR October 23, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    those Nike glasses, on the other hand, seem just plain dumb to me, compared to a bona fide mirror

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  • jim October 23, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    If you look closely at the photo I would guess it is all pasted together on photoshop.
    As a driver I am always aghast (sp?) at how bikes ride on the side untill there is a parked car at which time they simply swerve out into the traffic lane without looking with absolutely no idea what is coming at them.
    Paul #16-
    Driving with earplugs is illegal for obvious reasons- the same laws I believe apply to bikes

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  • P Finn October 23, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Earplugs are nice when decibel levels on the roadway are unsafe (i.e. I-84). I’m not sure about legality…anyone?

    Also wanted to chime in with noggin-mounted mirror adjustment tip:

    Set your mirror so that in order to get a rear view, you need to turn your head slightly to the left (11:00 or so). This helps avoid the distraction of having a constant rear view, of which I’ve heard complaints leveled…

    Product Endorsments:

    Cycle Aware Take-A-Look glasses-mounted mirror

    EVT helmet mirror (efficientvelo.com)

    Thanks for having an open mind!

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  • Paul Tay October 23, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Brian Johnson, #27, ViewPoint is TRASH. Reflex is the better deal.

    P. Finn, #37, CycleAware doesn’t do Take-a-Look anymore. Holy cow! EVT is AWESOME! But, good grief, da PRICE, $40 MSRP!

    Jim, #36, yes, I bet earplugs while driving are probably illegal in Oklahoma too. Too lazy to check right now. There are lots of behavior cyclists do which are illegal.

    We have couple of doozers. NO waving the American flag, and NO holding water bottle while biking, 37 TRO 1009. So, what’s another bad cycling behavior of using earplugs to save the eardrums from the constant traffic noise on the highway?

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  • jim October 24, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Paul- you got no arguement from me cause I might do the same in that situation.
    It seams like there is a lot of valuable experianced tips coming in here that should be picked through compiled on the web somehow for a resource for bicycle safety trainers to draw from. That is a feild that will grow drastically in the near future. There might be offenses comitted where the court will send people to a mandatory bicycle safety class (except for jim would probably get sent to a spelling class)

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  • Paul Tay October 24, 2008 at 7:38 am

    Jim, oh fo’ shure. There’s a group of bikies in town trying to convince Tulsa Municipal Court to send DUI cretins with suspended DL’s to bike driving class! Get busted with suspended DL? Drive a friggin’ bike. NOT a car!

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  • bean in the couv October 24, 2008 at 7:46 am

    I’ll use anything that gives me a little edge on seeing what’s coming…as far as being more aware and listening etc that you refer too….i can’t tell you how many times one of those dang stealth hybrids have snuck up on me giving me a near heart attack. So, yeah, I have invested in my share of mirrors for both my bikes AND for my car. I’m still working on a better system to see cyclists coming up behind me or alongside.
    by the way.. why are more and more cyclists NOT using lights or helmets? that’s just plain dumb.

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  • PEP October 24, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Aarrgh,

    Jonathan, your explanation simply echoes those made in the pro/con helmet debates. Specifically the idea that helmets somehow give a false sense of security and therefore increase the risk to the rider.

    OF COURSE you should use your ears. OF COURSE you should be aware of your surroundings. OF COURSE you need to be super-vigilant on a bike.

    But how does using a mirror or a helmet detract from those needs? They don’t.

    Choose not to wear a helmet or use a mirror if you wish, but please don’t argue that you do so because they increase your risk.

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  • Anonymous January 17, 2009 at 1:38 am

    lol . . . not a believer in mirrors?

    You might as well not believe in unicorns.

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  • a cyclist January 18, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Mirrors are tools, as with any tool proper use is vital to effectiveness. But it’s just that a tool. It should not be the primary tool used to know what’s in your wake. Also, as with all mirrors, they have blind spots.

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  • El Biciclero January 19, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    I relied solely on my rear-view “hearer” and head-tucks for years. I then got a take-a-look mirror. Now feel naked without it. Call me a lazy, crutch-using, poseur if you want, but it is a great tool, as has been mentioned. It in no way replaces the strategic head-turn, but it sure does reduce the head-turning that is necessary.

    Hint: Using a helmet- or glasses-mounted mirror takes some getting used to. I wore mine around the house a bit and practiced using it to look behind me to get used to it before I went out on the bike with it. If your first attempt to use such a mirror is in busy night-time traffic, it will be disorienting and you might conclude that “mirrors just don’t work”.

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