Look out for cyclists

Martin Uttley from the advertising agency Engine Group sent me the above video today. It’s part of a new Transport for London campaign designed to test people’s visual awareness on the road.
It makes a vital point about "change blindness" in quite a clever way.

I "did the test", so to speak, and I’m afraid I failed dismally — and I normally regard myself as a very observant person!

How did you do?

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8 thoughts on “Look out for cyclists

  1. Without trying to give too much away – I think it is not so much black vs white issue, but that you are concentrating so hard on one ball. i.e. the two balls are the same so you fixate on the ball you need to follow.
    Very good advert, but I think the traffic smidsy situations are a bit more general.

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  2. I saw it, but that’s only because some people in Illinois did the same video a few years ago. They used a gorilla, I think, rather than a bear, but otherwise the videos are almost identical.
    The lesson for cyclists: Look more like a basketball and less like a moonwalking bear! Part of the reason we missed the moonwalking bear is because he blends in, the same way many cyclists do, especially if they’re on the edge of the road. Motorists are concentrating on the other traffic around them, along with whatever electronic gizmos they’re playing with inside the car.

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  3. I saw the bear, BUT, I lost count of the number of passes. Everyone I’ve shown it to so far missed the bear but got the number of passes. I think it’s an either/or situation.
    Great blog by the way!

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  4. I have a question that’s not related to this article I’m afraid…as a person that has lived in Holland all his life but frequently spends time in the UK, I want to know why cycling seems to be something requiring specialist equipment in Britain? Here we have cheaper bikes than anywhere else, nobody wears a helmet or high visibility clothing, yet we have far fewer accidents/problems with cyclist in traffic, whether there are cyclepaths or not.

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  5. Hi Joe, good question. I read somewhere that many City workers (I’m talking investment bankers, lawyers etc) view cycling as the new golf, so they’re happy to spend their money on top-end equipment, clothing etc. as a personal statement. If you’ve got it, flaunt it and all that. But maybe other British readers of this blog could suggest some alternative theories…

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  6. But when it comes to high vis. clothing and helmets, from what I hear/read, it’s seen as essential in the UK, but I’ve never felt unsafe cycling through Dutch cities in my black coat when my lights don’t work (although obviously I use lights as much as possible). But as I saw Richard Hammond cycle across London on Top Gear, he seemed to constantly be close to an accident, and every other cyclist on the road was using some kind of high-tech system. You might say some Brits don’t spend so much on their bikes, but I’ve never seen this type of bike in UK, only in Holland http://fotos.marktplaats.nl/kopen/8/fb/CiziHk+fgD7t7P10IWb4AA==.jpg

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  7. Joe, in the UK the car rules, so cyclists need to make themselves as visible as possible. If that means wearing high viz clothing and enough lights to put a Christmas tree to shame, then that’s what you have to do. You are lucky in Holland if you don’t have to worry about these things!
    As for the bike you linked to, I think you’ll begin to see more and more fixed gear / commuter type cycles as cycling becomes more and more common. We’re undergoing a cycling revolution in the UK and it will take several generations at least until we, as a nation, are as bike savvy as the Dutch — or Danish, for that matter.

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