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Bike mirror use and non use

12455 Views 92 Replies 49 Participants Last post by  mmlee
Whether I'm cycling on a highway shoulder, in urban traffic, or on a group training ride, I find a cycling mirror to be indepensable. When I'm on a group ride I'm surprised by the few riders that use them.

Before totally bashing the idea of wearing one, see if you can try one first. you may have to borrow a friends.

Ok now, let's hear your pros and cons. I'm curious and eager to respond.
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I use them; I like them; I find them useful.

My advice: try one, and give it a fair test (several rides, of varying lengths, in varying traffic and road conditions) before you decide whether it's useful to you. It takes some practice to use them effectively. I think it's worth the effort.

I suggest trying the helmet- or glasses-mounted type first, as they give the best field of view and are not affected by position on the bike. They're best, IF you can get the hang of them. I can't, because my strong nearsighteness causes too much distortion at the edge of my glasses. So I use one mounted on the end of the drop bars. Even in that relatively awkward position, I find it very useful, and it makes me a better and safer rider in traffic.

If you decide you don't like them, or find them unnecessary or a nuisance, it's your choice. But give it an honest test.
Do those of you using mirrors when you ride your bike also use them when you walk the shopping mall?

Why is it that every kid from the age of 2 can seem to navigate his bicycle in traffic without a mirror; but overweight, middle-aged guys wearing pro team jerseys have an imaginary safety-inspired need for mirrors?
When I'm walking in the shopping mall I'm not being overtaken and passed by 3000-pound vehicles at a relative speed of 10-30 mph.

Most kids don't navigate their bikes in traffic, and some of those who do get killed.

I'm sorry to say it, but your argument is just stupid. You may not feel a need to use a mirror and may not find them useful, but their benefits are not imaginary to those who learn to use them properly.
I keep seeing the argument that a mirror increases safety, yet nothing to back up this claim.

It leads me to believe that a mirror only increases the perception of safety.

Please prove me wrong with stories of how you were riding along and saw, in your mirror, an out of control car coming at you. Describe how you then took evasive action, much sooner than if you had to turn your head to see the car, and were saved from severe injury. I'm not saying these stories don't exist, I just haven't seen them.

Produce these stories and quiet the critics.
Your hypothetical story is not the only possible safety benefit of a mirror. Here's a story, and it has happened to me many times. I'm riding on a road with a narrow lane and little shoulder, so I'm riding in the middle of the lane to discourage overtaking motorists from passing too close for safety. I'm checking the mirror frequently, so I know if a car is coming up behind. On a blind spot (curve or hill), a car begins to attempt a pass, but I can see that there's oncoming traffic in the other lane. I put out my left arm, palm facing back, and move even further left in the lane. The overtaking car understands the "don't pass now" signal and stays behind me. As soon as there's a safe spot for the pass, I move over a little and signal them to come around. Often, I get a "thank you" wave from the driver. If they still try to pass too close for comfort, having the mirror allows me to move over at the opportune moment to create more space (if you move right too soon, some drivers will follow you over.)

That's not the only situation where I find the mirror of use, but it's a common one. You might suggest you could do the same by looking or listening, but in practice that doesn't work so well, because nobody (at least, not me) is going to turn his head to look as often as I check the mirror, and these unsafe passes often start when the car is some distance back.

YMMV. I don't try to persuade experienced riders that they should use a mirror, but I do get annoyed when people discourage new riders from even trying them, when they base their arguments on false premises. (not suggesting that your legitimate question falls in that category, but a number of posts in this thread do, IMO)
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I don't use a mirror and never have. I don't know if I could ever trust a mirror enough to cross into a lane or make a turn exclusively with one, I am used to turning my head. Turning your head does make the body and the bike swerve at times, even to the most seasoned veteran. I won't comment since I have never used one, but I can see where it would help with those occasional glances back in addition to turning your head to look.
You're sort of getting it, but change "occasional glances back" to "frequent checks so you always know what's behind," and you may see the usefulness.

As for "trust," there's nothing untrustworthy about a mirror, as long as you understand its field of view and blind spots. If you look in the mirror and there's nothing there, there's nothing there. You just have to know to check the places the mirror doesn't see. That generally does mean you turn your head and look to the side before actually moving over.
My Dad and a few of his riding buddies use mirrors that stick into the bar end. The only thing it's good for is to see whether or not you are dropping the guy behind you or not. Using it for traffic was useless ime. Some use them attached to the helmet which seems to be a little better.

I ride urban and suburb type roads with tons of cars and debris on the road. I don't ride on roads w/o a lane and have found the most dangerous facet to my type of terrain is parked cars, cars blind spots and debris. Too long to explain but looking ahead and anticipating traffic is really important. I believe seeing a car in a mirror does nothing to help safety im my situation as well as my Dad's. I really have no idea why they use them as the majority of incidents they encounter are self made like overcorrecting for a twig and swerving needlessly into traffic or causing a buddy to swerve. Not looking where they are going and hitting a pot hole. Not making small line corrections soon enough for gravel/sand avoidance. Assuming cars see them. Assuming a stopped car will stay stopped. Not being able to properly use their equipement like clipping into a pedal at a stop light and holding up traffic needlessly. On and on. It would be comical but many of the mistakes they make are dangerous. For these riders and many more I suspect mirrors are a distraction. In general they ride with the mindset like they are a car and are unable to understand there are times when it's safest to ride offensively and others very defensively.

Just my opinion. Be careful out there!
It sounds to me like your dad and his friends are lousy riders with bad habits, and the mirrors have little or nothing to do with it. A mirror, properly used is not a distraction, but an aid to riding safely.

Just my opinion. You be careful, too.
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