Cycling Safety Tip: Cable ties versus helmet eyes!


After fifty odd years of cycling for both leisure and commuting I can say that cable ties only serve to make you look like a porcupine and do not prevent swooping, only contact. Beak snaps are still prevalent and dangerously distracting.

I can concur with the behavioural ecologist however who stated recently that maggies will avoid direct eye contact and immediately curtail their desire to swoop if they think they are being looked at. I have employed a LARGE pair of plastic moving eyes on successive helmets for many years and can say that I have not been swooped in that time, I have noted their shadow as they begin their swoop out of the sun but they immediately turn tail and fly away. If I think they may be more aggressive than usual I shake my head, the eyes move and again, no swoop.

I would not argue that to a magpie's perception, this looks like a fairly intimidating face.


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Salman S - August 18th, 2023

I've now used cable ties, the biggest and stiffest that Bunnings sells, and they keep even the most aggressive magpies from making contact. They still swoop and follow me but no contact and that helps me not get startled.
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Chris Jackson - September 12th, 2019

Probably rather get hammered than look like a dork😂
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Robbo - October 1st, 2015

My wife tried great big orange eyes on her helmet to ward off the Quakers Hill Mauler (Hambledon Rd) but it didn't seem to have any effect; he wasn't conned. I have since bought a packet of cable ties, yet to try them.
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MagpieAlert Editor - September 19th, 2015

A rider came off his bike today when the M7 maggie attacked him, I was at the bubbler when we had news of it after another rider came in with a bloody ear!

Saw a man cycling with no word of a lie, a small scrub sticking out of his helmet! Well if it works...
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Michael Fisher - September 16th, 2015

I've gone the cable tie route. The really long ones and they seem to work. The M7 magpie swoops just as often but only snaps at the cable ties and can't get to me. I had shorter ones on last week but he still got though to hit my helmet. With these long ones, I feel pretty safe. I pass this spot two times a day.
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Nikki Gillies - September 13th, 2015

I hate the M7 magpie. I am considering dismounting from my bike and walking with an umbrella through the Strava section known as 'Magpie Alley' !! (That section in the middle just to the South of the M4 and M7 overpass where the nasty magpie lives!! .
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MagpieAlert Editor - September 5th, 2015

Well I should practice what I preach and not seek out magpies to test the helmet eyes on! I can say with some certainty that M7 magpie plain ignored the eyes and went in for the kill! I could see him from the verge as I approached and he deliberately flew up on to a lamppost just to have a go. Google eyes or not he was determined! One sure thing stopped the attack and that was when I dismounted and shouted at the bugger, he flew off and let me pass!
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The MagpieAlert Editor - September 4th, 2015

Well John, I'll give your suggestion a try tomorrow and let everyone know how I get on!

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