First rule of Italian driving

“What’s behind me is not important.”



I think it’s the first rule of bicycling, too.

H/T to Serge, who says bicyclists fare best while riding with mirrors.

10 Comments

  • March 5, 2011 - 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure I understand this.

  • March 5, 2011 - 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure I understand this.

  • Anonymous
    March 5, 2011 - 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Wow, a Gumball Rally reference. One of the best gearhead movies of all time. I especially like the guys in the XKE who never manage to get out of the garage.

  • March 5, 2011 - 9:38 pm | Permalink

    mirrors are essential to my daily commute.

  • Anonymous
    March 6, 2011 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    Mirrors are essential, on any road-going bicycle.
    They are even more essential with a recumbent, as I’ve found that it’s impossible to look round with an inclined seat.

    All my bikes have at least one and the recumbent has two.

  • March 7, 2011 - 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I wonder about mirrors. I have a Take-a-Look mirror, and I rarely ride without it. Sometimes I glance up at where it’s supposed to be even when I’m off my bike. I feel very exposed if I’m on the bike without it, and yet I’m not sure what it actually does other than relieve me from moving my neck at times. Now that I have it, I hate to be without, and it definitely changes the way I move around in traffic, but am I safer? I don’t know. I never make a habit of moving into a lane of traffic without looking, whether I have a mirror or not, and just seeing a vehicle coming up behind me doesn’t tell me if that vehicle is going to collide with me or otherwise interfere with my biking. So, while I certainly feel safer with the mirror, I would love to know if there is any actual evidence that mirrors lessen your odds of an accident.

  • March 7, 2011 - 5:24 pm | Permalink

    @Steve – “What’s behind me is not important” as he rips out the mirror. Surely you know a cyclist or two with the same attitude, right?

  • March 7, 2011 - 5:29 pm | Permalink

    @Rob – I was very dependent on my Take A Look and ruminated similarly. About a year ago I tried an experiment: removed the mirror! It seems more a convenience than a necessity — I have to actually turn my head to check for traffic without the mirror.

    There’s a guy from Chicago active on the Internets who relates a couple of times where a mirror “Saved My Life!” when he ditched off of the road after he saw a motorist gunning for him from behind. I honestly can’t see the utility of a mirror for something like that — it seems much more useful for finding gaps for left turns and what not.

    In summary: mirrors are nice to have, but not essential IMHO. for recumbents I can see how they’re much more important, and I’m sure the day isn’t long coming when I’ll depend on a mirror as I stiffen w/ age.

  • MikeOnBike
    March 7, 2011 - 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Right, I use the mirror to be aware of the traffic behind me so I can cooperate with it, not so I can dive out of the way of it. For example, when I’m preparing to merge, I can see if a gap is coming and merge behind the platoon.

  • March 7, 2011 - 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I have a hard time with the idea that a mirror will help you avoid vehicles that are gunning for you. Fortunately that’s not an experience I’ve had, but it seems like a vehicle that’s about to hit you and one that’s going to pass safely look pretty similar until they are right up on you. This is the same problem I have with the headphone issue. With or without headphones, I can hear a passing car, but what I can’t do is tell from the sound of it whether or not it poses a danger. And since a car that is going to pass safely looks and sounds just about like one that isn’t, all you can do is ride as safely and predictably as possible. Although when I was young and foolish, I used mirrors and my ears as a way to avoid cars because I did not use any lights, so every car required moving to the other side of the street or moving off the road.
    But even if it’s more for convenience then safety, my mirror remains one of my favourite accessories. If I had to choose between that and my helmet, I’m afraid the mirror would win every time.

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