I'm trying to work through the pros and cons of using a rear-view mirror on a bicycle. Just some random thoughts, bear with me.
Why do cars have rear view mirrors and side mirrors? To change lanes, for reversing, anything else? But, a good driver should always turn and check their blind spot anyway. So there's always a head turn involved irrespective, when changing lanes.
On a bicycle we don't have a reverse gear and we almost never change lanes.
A bicycle requires a different pattern of attention as compared to a car. You need to look forward more because that's where the accidents happen. Only 8% of car-bicycle accidents happen from the dreaded "strike from behind."
I've tried a handlebar mounted mirror, I hated it. There was too much vibration from the road and so the image was unreliable. I found myself having to look around anyway to make sure that there weren't two identical cars stacked on top of each other behind me.
Maybe helmet-mounted mirrors are better?
My gut reaction to rear view mirrors on the bicycle is that they're being used for something other than navigating traffic, they're being used as a placebo for the cyclist's fear of the dreaded strike from behind.
I don't believe that a mirror is going to save you from that dreaded event. I wonder if anybody has done a controlled study of bicycle commuters who do and don't use a rear view mirror. I'm willing to bet there will be no statistically significant difference in strike from behind accidents between the two groups.
The other day, I passed a cyclist who had a helmet mounted rear view mirror. He was weaving in and out of the gaps between the parked cars in a most dangerous manner, trying to keep to the right as far as possible. I can't see how his mirror was going to keep him safe. The simple act of repeatedly entering and exiting the traffic flow must surely place one in more danger than simply placing oneself in the middle of the lane and cycling steadily down it.
I'm trying to be fair to the mirror side of the argument. I don't buy this bullshit from the anti-mirror crowd that "oh, I know I guy who lost his eye because he got shards of glass from his mirror into eye when he crashed." I'm trying to see any point for having a rear view mirror on a bike and I just can't justify it. I think at best it can't do any harm, but I suspect it may give people some false sense of security which is probably not a good thing, but probably doesn't do much harm either. I half wonder though if a cyclist spends too much time looking in the mirror, they may be missing the more important stuff happening in front of them? Again, somebody needs to do a proper study on that. I'm just speculating.
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