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A new bike safety effort that just might stick

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 25th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Notice that little sticker?
It just might help people be
a bit more vigilant when turning.
(Photo: VigilantVelo.com)

It's always nice to hear from old bike industry acquaintances, especially when they've crossed over into the non-profit advocacy world. One such name from my past is Raymond Galang, co-founder of (legendary website) MTBR.com and Roadbikereview.com. Raymond dropped me a line last week to share his new endeavor -- VigilantVelo.com.

Raymond had built a nice web and graphic design consultant business, but says that in recent years he's "been saddened and horrified by the number of cyclists getting hit on the road by automobiles" (including "numerous" close calls himself). "I started to become paranoid and always felt that the next car behind me could be my fate. It's no way to ride I thought to myself."

A little reminder to look
before opening that door.

He decided to do something about it and went to work the only way he know how -- through graphic design. The world of bike activism is flooded with stickers, but what I love about Raymond's are where they're intended to go -- right on a car's rear-view mirror and/or in the driver's-side window.

He has created 2-by-2 inch static cling decals that aren't distracting when you're behind the wheel, but, as Raymond says, "they're just enough of a reminder to keep a driver aware of cyclists." Judging from the photos on the website, these stickers look like they could really help with the all-too-common "Those cyclists just come out of nowhere!" complaints.

You can buy the stickers online for as little as $2 (a special sales package for shops is also available). All proceeds go to printing costs and Raymond says he's donating a percentage of sales to the League of American Bicyclists.

Check out VigilantVelo.com for more.


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Comments
  • Matti January 25, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Great idea. If auto manufacturers could be required to etch this into side mirrors, it could help raise general awareness of this problem. Remember "objects in mirror may appear..."? Is this still used on auto mirrors?

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  • Aaron January 25, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Maybe Raymond would be willing to donate a bunch to people so we can simply stick them to dozens of cars. Since, unfortunately, the most dangerous drivers are the ones who don't take any time or interest in this problem

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  • Ed January 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    If someone put stickers on my rear view mirror without asking me, I would probably just be pissed at whoever did it.

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  • AaronF January 25, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    "I'm sorry! I mistook you for the sticker on my side view mirror that looks like a cyclist!"

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  • toby January 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    It looks like one more thing to distract the drivers field of view. Agreed that those in most need of a reminder are also the least likely buy these.

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  • Bjorn January 25, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    he needs to make one for cell phones, so people can remember cyclists when they are texting...

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  • Susan January 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I have a no-idling sticker on my windshield. Not distracting at all and it really does remind me to "turn it off" while parked or waiting. I think this is a great, low-tech idea.

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  • q`Tzal January 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Gorilla "stickering" of car is all sorts of juvenile fun but when those stickers are placed in the critical lines-of-sight of the driver it quickly goes from fun to risk to public safety.

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  • khal spencer January 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Still not sure that looking in the mirror provides complete coverage for a motorist's blind spot. Plus, those side view mirrors have that famous "objects in the mirror are closer than they appear" message.

    Motorists need to keep track of when they are passing a cyclist prior to a turn so they don't hook a cyclist, and cyclists should be watchful, and if need be, taking the lane when entering intersections. See the Mass Bike video on avoiding right hooks here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atMouGGXmmc

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  • khal spencer January 25, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Oh, by the way, here is the Mass Bike site that has a list of all their instructional stuff.
    http://www.massbike.org/projectsnew/law-officer-training/

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  • El Biciclero January 25, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    It would be great to have stickers on drivers' right-hand side mirrors...then all we would have to do is get them to ACTUALLY LOOK in those mirrors before turning right.

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  • Donna January 25, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    I like the idea. They are cling decals so they come right off. (Remember Colorforms?) As such, they would cause no damage to a car mirror.

    They would be an excellent training tool for a motorist who could take them off once they are in the habit of looking for bikes in the mirror.

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  • Raymond January 25, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks for the post Jonathan. And thanks to those that commented. I'll try to respond to some of the comments.

    One that stood out was 'guerilla stickers'. I absolutely would not endorse doing such a thing. It would seem wasteful and considered vandalism.

    I agree that a big obstacle is getting non-cyclists who need it the most to purchase the stickers. My answer is that it needs to start from us. Handing the sticker to my parents and in-laws created a discussion. Even as a cyclist for over 2 decades, I don't think we ever had a discussion on bicycle awareness. My mom's comment later was that she's now seeing more cyclists on the road than before. The number of bicyclists didn't increase, the sticker and the discussion made her more aware. And now there's a daily reminder when she gets in her car.

    Right hand mirrors. This was actually the "idea sparker". So many times, I'm riding and a car passes me to make a right turn. I'm looking right in the person's face through that right mirror asking... "are you going to look at me? Please?" Then I glance at the rear view mirror... still not looking. Then I know for sure this guy is going to cut me off. When I can make eye contact with a driver through that mirror I know I'll be allowed to pass or at least be acknowledged. If the sticker was placed on the top-left of the mirror it doesn't cover the view. Unless you like your mirror angled all the way out.

    Thanks for the links Kahl Spencer. I will post them on the site.

    Donna, you are right. I initially thought that the glue-based decal was necessary for the exterior of the car. But in fact the static cling decals work just as well. They can be peeled and rinsed and it will stick again.

    Re: Texting and Cell Phones. Perhaps an iPhone App that detects that you're in a moving car and when you try to text or dial, the VV sticker exclamation mark appears. Hmmm...any iPhone app builders out there?

    Thanks all for this rich discussion.

    Raymond Galang
    VigilantVelo.com

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  • jim January 26, 2010 at 8:05 am

    If I had a ghost cyclist in my mirror all the time I think I would tend to not look at it. It might even be a hinderance to what might actually be there if I thought I was trying to not look at it. Valiant try but am not convinced it is a good idea

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  • Ethan January 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    at $2 this is going nowhere fast.

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  • david....no the other one January 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    OK OK confession time. I have..a truck, a toyota pickup. I know disheartening, but it stays in the garage, and it has mirrors that are big. I mean BIG, semi truck big. Not the little verticule ones on pickups, the ones on semi trucks that show blind spots. These arn't in addition they are the only ones on my truck they are so big, people see them and laugh but they really show EVERYTHING. By the way each mirror cost eight dollars at a truck stop. Saving lives priceless.

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  • Rob January 26, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    So which do you prefer:

    A. Ride in the blind spot where a car might right hook you, and trust a tiny decal to tell the driver not to kill you.

    B. Just take the blasted lane so the driver can clearly see you.

    Looks like people are picking A. I pick B. It just works.

    If you operate like a vehicle, you don't need bike lanes or pretty colored paint or illegal bike boxes or barrier protection or magic decals.

    How long until you admit that?

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  • cyclist January 26, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Like most things that you see on a regular basis drivers will "not see it" anymore. Like the dust on the monitor, it will be there but will be forgotten and unnoticed after a while.

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  • jim January 28, 2010 at 12:08 am

    perhaps a friendly sticker near the dashboard to remind drivers to watch for cyclists. insurance agents might even help disperse them

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