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The Invisibility of Bicycles

Old 09-05-07, 08:13 PM
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The Invisibility of Bicycles

I've just come back from another tour, and this is something I've noticed on all my tours ....... my bicycle, and all my gear, seem to throw up a cloaking device around them so that people don't see them. They become invisible.

I usually notice it first in the airport when I'm walking through the airport with my bicycle in a very large box ....... and people walk right into it like they don't see it. I can just stand there, off to the side with my bicycle in a box, and someone will come along and walk into it.

Later, when I've put my bicycle together and I've got my panniers on so that my bicycle becomes a bit of a "wide load", if I'm pushing it along the sidewalk, again, people will walk right into my panniers. And then, the day before yesterday, I had stopped for a light, and a cyclist rode right into my panniers from the back!

I don't get it. It's very weird. You'd think that the large size of the box, and the wider size of the bicycle would make it more visible, but it's just the opposite.

Anyone else noticed the same thing?
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Old 09-05-07, 08:27 PM
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uh, people walk just like they drive? (or is it drive like they walk?)
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Old 09-05-07, 08:42 PM
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I remember a guy down at Venice Beach who dressed up in a black sheet. He'd stand in front of a cafe and when people walked by, he'd follow them, take their hats, mock them, etc. It was so obvious - maybe 6 foot guy in a sheet.

People didn't see him. He could have stolen their purses and untied their shoes before they realized what happened.
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Old 09-05-07, 08:59 PM
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I can't say why folks kept walking and riding into your bike, were you naked and just distracting them?
I found just the opposite pulling a BOB trailer, I felt like cars gave me a wider berth than normal and I wasn't even half naked.
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Old 09-05-07, 09:06 PM
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Can't say I've noticed this. If anything, my experience has been the opposite. When I'm riding without the full touring load, the majority of cars will pass me with literally inches to spare -- when I have the full touring load I tend to get much more space. It could also be the different places I ride in when I tour, but I can't recall anybody ever walking into my bike at any airport.
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Old 09-05-07, 09:14 PM
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Cars will give me lots of room when I'm cycling with touring gear, it's mainly just pedestrians who don't seem to notice that there is something large in their way.
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Old 09-05-07, 09:50 PM
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It's not that they don't see it, it's that they are unconsciously attracted to it.
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Old 09-05-07, 11:01 PM
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One problem with pedestrians is that they are eye level focused or looking at their feet (introverts), and they depend a lot on their hearing. Bikes don't move laterally well, it's just a different animal.
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Old 09-06-07, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by cmonk
I remember a guy down at Venice Beach who dressed up in a black sheet. He'd stand in front of a cafe and when people walked by, he'd follow them, take their hats, mock them, etc. It was so obvious - maybe 6 foot guy in a sheet.

People didn't see him. He could have stolen their purses and untied their shoes before they realized what happened.
Reminds me of the guy in San Francisco who sits on the street with two branches to "cover" him, waiting to scream at unsuspecting pedestrians. Quite funny...if you're not the ones being scared.
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Old 09-06-07, 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by cmonk
I remember a guy down at Venice Beach who dressed up in a black sheet. He'd stand in front of a cafe and when people walked by, he'd follow them, take their hats, mock them, etc. It was so obvious - maybe 6 foot guy in a sheet.

People didn't see him. He could have stolen their purses and untied their shoes before they realized what happened.
He's still there, he scared the crap out of me a week ago!
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Old 09-06-07, 01:38 AM
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Originally Posted by balsingh
Reminds me of the guy in San Francisco who sits on the street with two branches to "cover" him, waiting to scream at unsuspecting pedestrians. Quite funny...if you're not the ones being scared.

He did that to my friends and then asked for money.
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Old 09-06-07, 07:24 AM
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His name is "bushman"

When he scared my mom, she said, "Jesus!" and he said, "no mam, just bushman."
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Old 09-06-07, 11:38 AM
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I would think the "airport people" were more wooried about catching a flight and being unfamiliar with the building doesn't help. They wonder around looking for signs, exit numbers and etc. so there eyes are looking up and around not in front of you. I noticed you get bumpped into more at "tourist" type place like an airport, train station and etc.
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Old 09-06-07, 12:35 PM
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We these people talking on cell phones at the time? People talking on cell phones don't coordinate well with the world around them.
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Old 09-06-07, 01:24 PM
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Ha, ha. Welcome to Europe...
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Old 09-06-07, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by NeezyDeezy
His name is "bushman"

When he scared my mom, she said, "Jesus!" and he said, "no mam, just bushman."
um...no....
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Old 09-06-07, 03:18 PM
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Nope, not in my case. Everyone gives me a wide berth, on the sidewalk and on the road...well, maybe not the road so much.
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Old 09-06-07, 08:51 PM
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Our brain don't bother to calculate every thing in our vision. It just create an imaginary image of the known things that in the frame and concentrate on the moving things or odd things that are not in the memory.
I think the problem is related to this phenomenon.
When I see a bicycle I know from memory the average size of them, so the brain calculates and create an image of regular bicycle with no panniers.
Of course this is my opinion, but I have just seen a good BBC documentary about this, the series called Brain Story, which shows an actual academic research about brain phenomenons.
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Old 09-09-07, 04:39 PM
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Can't figure it out, it's never happened to my bike. But it actually sounds funny. You should start recording these events, then put them on the net. I just finished a tour as well thru E. Canada. When I was unlocking my bike and getting ready to go from a supermarket in Montreal, a lady on her bike rode up, past me and hit right into the glass window next to the automatic doors. I really don't think she even saw it!! It was so unbelievable, that I just stared thinking, "Did I really just see that?!" instead of laughing. When I passed her, I looked directly at her, and she wasn't embarressed or anything. Things that make you go hmmm. I wonder what would have happened if she'd been just a few feet to the right, on the path into the doors themselves....while the doors were opened. Now that's funny!
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Old 09-12-07, 12:43 PM
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Does the bike become invisible, or do some people suspend belief in the existence of anything in front of their eyes?

A few weeks ago I was travelling with my loaded bicycle on a bus. I was standing near the door, and a passenger attempted to get to the door by walking -- repeatedly! -- through my bike. I tried to be polite -- not easy under the circumstances! -- and said, "Wait a second, please" while I turned the wheel and shifted the bike over a few inches to make enough space for him to pass.
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