The other day I was reading the Cycling Advocacy Newsletter when a link caught my eye. Some researchers in Melbourne put cameras on cyclists’ helmets and inside cars and used them to observe cyclists and motorists.
They concluded that cyclists tend to be more aware in traffic than motorists and also often have a better view of what’s going on around them (mainlyÂ because cyclistsÂ are comparatively higher up and also they have 180 degree vision).
This means that motorists sometimes get a shock when cyclists pop up in front of them unexpectedly. It alsoÂ means that sometimes motorists perceive cyclists as behaving in a risky fashion becauseÂ motoristsÂ haven’t noticed something on the road that the cyclist has already seen.
This was only aÂ preliminary study with a few participants but it definitely rang true to me. I amÂ almost alwaysÂ more aware when I cycle than drive of my surrounding environment. In fact, although sometimes it sucks (particularly when it’s raining) this is one of the things I enjoy about cycling. You actually notice the seasons and what is happening around you to the natural environment – whereas in a car you hardly notice at all.
For example, yesterday morning I went for a training ride up the Te Atatu Peninsula and was stunned by the sunrise which was painting the sky in pink and grey bars. As we rode I noticed how the sky changed from pale grey to gold and the sunrise slowly faded away. I think in a car, my primary attention would have been on the glare – I simply wouldn’t have had time to admire the sunset as well.
Cars also give you many, many more ways to distract yourself. For example, the other day I was driving along while eating pecan nuts, putting on my jacket, adjusting the car heater, and singing along loudly to the radio. I suddenly realized (when the car in front of me stopped) that I was paying virtually no attention to the road.
I also find that when I cycle IÂ get to work feeling much more aware and clearer headed and I can hit the ground running. When I drive to work I arrive feeling sleepy and grumpy. How about you? Do you think your day gets off to a better start if you cycle to work? Does it wake you up?
* Thanks to Inkyblots blog for picture of sunrise over Te Atatu.