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Bicycle Safety

Invisible Man

11:43 AM EST on November 5, 2007

dooring_1.jpgThe brain experts tell us vision is an act of discrimination. In other words, we don't see everything; see what we look for, what we expect to see.

Which probably explains how the guy on Avenue B over near 10th Street opened his door directly in front of me, just after sticking his head out the window and looking back. He wasn't looking for a thin vertical line, i.e. a man on a bicycle. He was looking for a big bulky object that might be a car or a truck. He "edited out" all visual information that wasn't that.

I let out an involuntary scream, squeezed my handlebar brakes, swiveled to one side, half fell off my bike but did not completely lose control. I was not injured. I was happy about that, but shaken that such an incident could occur.

I was angry at the guy, but my anger really didn't make sense. After all, the guy had looked. He just didn't see me.

It's in this situation that I think the now studied "Safety in Numbers" phenomena will gradually help cyclists. Over time, and cyclists grow in number on New York City streets, drivers, whether parked or otherwise, will start looking for them. They will expect to see cyclists, and thus will see them. We, as objects, will start to exist.

I look forward to the day.

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