Biking into a setting sun

This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  StuInMcCandless 2 yrs, 7 mos.

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Dec 3 2013 at 3:32pm #

I’m fortunate that I don’t have to do that on my commute.

I’ve told myself that with a bright rear blinky and some reflective stuff, and avoidance of sudden lateral moves, I’ve done about what I can to avoid trouble coming up behind me.

But thinking about the setting sun with the Amish thread, and in no way excusing the driver. I’m concerned that while doubtless these things help, that the setting sun would substantially drown them out.

Do you guys do anything different, route selection, riding style, other, if you’re biking into a setting sun?


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Dec 3 2013 at 5:16pm #

On my commute in, there is a 200+- yard section where the road (Steuby Pike) narrows where there is a center turn lane, it is heading due east, and depending on the time of year, at 7:30 am the sun is burning straight down the line of the road. I actually relish mildly overcast days because of this one condition.
One day last week, when I saw a large number of frosted over windshields, I just said screw best practices, and rode as far to the right on the shoulder as I could for that particular section. I was pretty sure none of my blinkies or high viz was going to overcome the sun.
Thinking, literally, globally about all the environmental conditions as well as the human factors is just part of complete safety.


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Dec 3 2013 at 5:30pm #

don’t forget that when you have your back to the setting sun, oncoming drivers have it in their face. one of the guys i worked with at triangle had his femur shattered by an oncoming drive making a left into him on carson st while blinded by the setting sun.

helen s

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Dec 3 2013 at 10:24pm #

When I used to ride down Greenfield in the mornings, the rising sun was directly in the drivers faces coming up the hill- I often felt that crossing in front of a blinded driver turning in front of me was going to be my demise. But not yet.
So either end of the day has the sun at a low angle.


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Dec 4 2013 at 8:28am #

Of course sunrise is as big a problem sunset, I just find myself a lot more likely to be biking at sunset.

The reminder/caution about left turners in oncoming traffic being blinded is very applicable to my daily riding. Thanks guys!


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Dec 4 2013 at 1:56pm #

Great point to bring up this time of year byogman!

This is something I never thought about before taking the Cycling Savvy class in Sept. Basically they looked at all the reasons for cycle crashes and something like 80-90% of them could be, if not eliminated, then extremely moderated by biking in certain ways.

What you could NOT mitigate was cyclist error/random craziness and biking into low sunlight/glare.

So there is no way to mitigate this really except: 1. choose a slightly different time to ride, 2. choose a different angled route.
(Apparently this is specific to other cities where roads are closely aligned to the cardinal directions so that you might get 1+ miles of road straight east/into the sun (or whichever way it is). In those cities picking a different route can make a difference.

So basically, just be extra aware. If you see your shadow straight in front of you then be aware the drivers you face may not see you; and opposite, if it’s straight behind you they might not see you coming up behind you.


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Dec 4 2013 at 5:24pm #

There are so many variables here. At this time of year, in particular, the sun angle never gets all that high, so any time of day is liable to line up with some road somewhere, particularly if it’s on just the right slope to make that low-hanging sun hang right in front of a driver, or coming in at just an oblique enough angle to cause serious glare. Throw in some crappy wiper blades or some frost, and, well, you get the idea.

Any road, anywhere, any time of day, for someone, coming from some direction. You just cannot know.

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