Had my first “ninja hybrid” experience yesterday. I’m crossing the street to get the mail, and I can see that there is a car coming. However, I cannot *hear* that there is a car coming. It is, indeed, a very weird experience the first time you become aware of it. You get none of the Doppler effect that tells you the rate of approach (like you notice most when a fire engine passes by). It’s like that moment while you’re watching television, and you immediately sense the difference between “no one is speaking at the moment” and “Hey, the sound just went out.”
I can understand now why this is so upsetting to bicyclists. I do not spend my entire ride looking behind me, nor do I have mirrors set up like in a car so I can always see behind me out of the corner of my eye. Instead I have to rely on my hearing to have at least some idea that there is *something* behind me. When I can’t hear it until the last second, I can imagine that as a scary experience.
(Strangely enough while listening to a Dane Cook special last night there was this strangely prescient joke:
“I heard a car!”
“Of course you did, they cover half the planet! If you hear a humpback whale, then you can warn me.”