Look Out for Cyclists

13 03 2008

From Transport for London



A passer-by asks you for directions. As you talk to him, two workmen walk between you carrying a door. In a flash the passer-by switches places with one of the workmen, and you are left giving directions to a different person. Do you think you would notice?

Researchers at Harvard University played this trick on some unsuspecting people and over 50 per cent failed to spot the change.cycle-safety-right.jpg

This phenomenon is known as “change blindness” – only a tiny fraction of all the information going into your brain enters your consciousness. People often fail to see a change in their surroundings because their attention is elsewhere.

Even stranger, if you are concentrating on something, you can become blind to other events that you would normally notice. This “inattention blindness” is possibly the reason why motorists collide with cyclists.

Just as it is important for road users to keep an eye out for cyclists, cyclists must also take steps to ensure they are seen by motorists.”




One response

25 03 2008

As a cyclist who logs thousands of miles per year, most of my near-crash moments are with motorists who are using a cell phone. Hands-free or not, your human brain simply can not accomplish two complicated cognitive tasks at the same time. It can not pay attention to all the details of driving and the details of a conversation with another person who you can only imagine. Think of trying to watch/listen to a tv news cast and at the same time read the running news at the bottom of the screen. Your brain can switch back and forth but not do both at once. You can switch your attention from phone to driving and back, but those moments you are attending to the phone may be the ones when a cyclist is in your fast moving world and “CRASH” your brain ‘just didn’t see it.’
When you are talking on the phone, even without your hands, you become blind to the cyclist you would otherwise notice.
Keep your hands on the wheel, your brain focused on the road and use your phone when you are safely stopped.
My life depends on it.

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