Seeing Things

I was waiting for an appointment the other day when I struck up a conversation with another woman in the lobby. She noticed my bike helmet and the conversation quickly turned to a discussion of cars versus cyclists.

It was just on of those casual conversations you have with a stranger in passing. After voicing the usual complaint about cyclists never stopping for red lights she added that she just “was not looking for cyclists.”

I started thinking about the word “looking.” Do drivers only see what they are looking for? And are they only looking for other cars? Which would mean, to a driver, a city intersection looks like this:

Seeing Things: Driver's POV

But when I bike through an intersection I am not looking for anything. I am seeing everything. If I were to travel through same intersection at the same moment I might see something like this:

Seeing Things: Cyclist's POV

But I probably see every street like this because I have to compensate for what the drivers are not looking for.

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52 Comments on "Seeing Things"

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Human nature aside, I think, at this point, in Boston, people SHOULD be looking for bikes, cause they’re friggin everywhere.


This makes me shit my scardey pants a little bit. We’re screwed!

Jon Banks
I don’t think it’s completely fair to say that drivers only see what they are expecting and that cyclists see everything. Drivers are certainly at a disadvantage for seeing things, being inside a vehicle. But a good driver is a defensive driver who does look for everything. In driver’s ed, I was taught to expect everyone to possibly act differently than I’d expect. So if you are a good driver, I really think you see a lot more than just other cars and trucks. And there are quite a few good drivers out there. And some bad ones who really… Read more »
zoe morosini

Very well put! Great post.

It’s funny, but I was just discussing this with my brother, who has recently joined me in the ranks of bicycle commuters. We live in South Central Texas in small towns that aren’t known as “bicycle towns.” Fortunately, because the sight of a middle age woman on a bike is so outside the norm for drivers in my town, people SEE me… and are completely at a loss as to what to do when they encounter me on the road. I get some of the strangest (and sometimes dangerous) reactions to my presence on the road. Two days ago a… Read more »

Reminds me of this ad:

m sweeney

What dancing bear?