VU University Amsterdam Treadmill

Today we (Jodi and I) went to the VU University Amsterdam and looked at the big treadmill from the faculty of Human Movement Sciences. My friend Knoek van Soest works there and was so nice to let us do some preliminary tests to see if we could use the treadmill for our bicycle handling quality experiments.  The treadmill is big, 3 by 5 m, and has maximum speed of 30 km/h. The minister of Education, Ronald Plasterk,  on a work visit at the VU, also showed genuine interest in our experiments!

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My first run on the treadmill (wmv 2.6 Mb). Low speed because it looked scary, and it turned out to be rather strange: you move but then you don't. Te problem is that you are cycling but your eyes tell you you are stationary. Of course after some practice it works out fine. Doing an emergency stop is really fun. You just fall over like an inverted pendulum! Jodi demonstrates (wmv 11.2 Mb) that you can ride at a moderate speed in a stable manner. Next we perturb the bicycle laterally by pulling a string attached to the saddle post. You see a nice response when Jodi recovers. Seems to work out fine,  although we both had problems with the visual information (I'm not moving but the belt is!) and it felt like we had a soft rear tire.