The Trixi Mirror

The Guardian notes that London, under the guidance of cyclist-mayor (and near traffic fatality) Boris Johnson, is installing a number of so-called “Trixi” mirrors as it ramps up its “cycling superhighways” ahead of 2012.

This is to help ameliorate a quite clear pattern of danger in truck-cyclist interaction:

Of the 15 cyclists who died on the capital’s roads last year, nine were killed in collisions with lorries. In most cases the lorry was turning left and the driver failed to see the cyclist on their inside, according to TfL.

As even the most cautious driver can fall victim to blind spots, this seems theoretically like a good, low-tech idea. I’m wondering if anyone has seen any data, pre-post installation, on whether they actually help reduce incidents? And one wonders whether the burden shouldn’t fall onto the truck itself having better mirrors, as one can imagine the many intersections that wouldn’t be equipped. Also wondering if readers have come across these in other cities?

The curious name, by the way, comes from a German girl, “Beatrix Willburger, who was 13 when she collided on her bike with a cement mixer. Her father then developed a convex mirror to be mounted on traffic lights at intersections. It lets truck and bus drivers see all around their rigs before driving off.”

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 4:43 pm and is filed under Cities, Cyclists, Traffic Culture, Traffic Gadgets, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 Responses to “The Trixi Mirror”

  1. MikeOnBike Says:

    A better solution is to keep cyclists out of that space in the first place. For the same reason that US bikeway standards prohibit putting bike lanes to the right of right-turn-only lanes.

  2. fred_dot_u Says:

    One aspect of this type of mirror is it is often difficult to see non-moving objects and moving objects are often too far away and reduced in size. “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear” is engraved on outside wing mirrors of US automobiles.

    I agree with Mike that it’s wiser to keep the cycle operators in the traffic lane. Educating bicycle operators seems to be missing in so many “programs” of cycling safety.

  3. Colin Says:

    This is ignorant cyclist behaviour. If you’re going straight ahead it’s suicide to position yourself to the left of vehicles that may be turning left.

    Bike lanes tend to encourage this suicidal behaviour because they position cyclists next to the kerb with no regard to whether the cyclist is going straight ahead, or turning left or right.

  4. Lee Watkins Says:

    The last bicycle fatality we had here was was Alice Swanson in Washington, DC on July 9, 2008 – she was hit by a garbage truck driver making a right hook at an intersection near Dupont Circle. She was a new and very cautious female cyclist in the bike lane with a green light… her co-worker told her she should try biking to work and she had just started a couple weeks earlier.

    I do think the mirrors are a good idea. However the main problem with lorries is that the drivers are independent contractors who are paid by the load, rather than by the hour… so the more loads they haul the more they get paid, and DC has terrible traffic, so they are the worst lead-footed crazy drivers you will ever see, their salary depends on it… and trash trucks don’t have very good visibility to begin with.

  5. Richard C. Moeur Says:

    I agree that the bigger issue is that there’s a consistent behavior pattern (moving up on the curb side of turning traffic) that has been clearly identified as a causal factor in severe and fatal bike/MV crashes. This is made worse by laws encouraging/compelling cyclists to always stay to the curb, even at intersections. Education can be very effective in correcting this behavior, but hasn’t yet been able to reach all the large numbers of riders out there.

    As noted by Tom V. above, it would be a Very Good Idea to rigorously and objectively evaluate whether this mirror is effective in significantly reducing conflicts & crashes. The bigger mistake would be to install them and hope/assume/think that they’ll be effective without testing, when in fact they may be creating a perception that the problem has been fixed without really improving conditions – which will actually make the situation worse.

  6. Michael Says:

    I have to agree that I don’t understand what the mirror is for. The usual right-hook (to switch over to my familiar drive-on-the-right directions) is the hyper-aggressive motorist who is planning to turn, sees the cyclist ahead, and figures if he drives fast enough he’ll get far enough past the cyclist to make the turn without turning into the cyclist and, if not, well, the cyclist can stop or swerve or something to avoid death, whatever, not the motorist’s problem. You don’t need a mirror to see what is in front of you, and, anyway, even if somehow it would help, it’s not going to help people who behave that way.

    If everyone is stopped at an intersection, again, not clear. If the cyclist was there first someone planning a right turn has no business moving to the left of someone else, and again you don’t need a mirror to see what is in front of you. If the truck was first squeezing yourself to the right of it is just not something that makes any sense. Stay behind, follow it through the intersection like everyone else. Filtering yourself forward through stopped traffic is sometimes reasonable if done with care and with a good reason (big traffic backup, not just one guy in front of you) and when there is space available (I often ride through an intersection that is just on the border of wide enough for two rows of cars, but there is always space for a straight-through cyclist to use the possibly-too-small-for-cars right lane (carefully! Someone might decide to try to drive over to the right) to avoid the left-turning motorists), but snugging up next to a turning truck is just not a good idea.

  7. MikeOnBike Says:

    Michael said: “snugging up next to a turning truck is just not a good idea”

    Exactly, which is why we shouldn’t paint “snug up next to turning traffic” lanes at intersections.

    Richard said: “Education can be very effective in correcting this behavior, but hasn’t yet been able to reach all the large numbers of riders out there.”

    True, but it would also help if we didn’t lay down paint that encourages the exact opposite behavior.

    Fundamentally, our education and engineering are at cross purposes.

  8. Gerard Says:

    Two comments:

    1) I grew up on the island of Guernsey (in the Channel Islands – the ones in the British Isles, not off Santa Barbara) and we had hundreds of those convex mirrors all over the place, because the roads there are narrow, winding, and intersect in lots of non ortho configurations, and to top it off those roads are often bounded by 10+ foot granite walls – this makes non-mirrored visibility at acute intersections bloody awful. The mirrors DO help lorry drivers in seeing things nearby that would otherwise be in their extended blind spots.

    2) I agree that setting a policy with squeezing NEXT to a turning lorry is simply insane – but let’s note that in the illustration there is a bicycle BOX which means that the cyclist ends up PRECEDING the motorist, and has a CLEAR priority in that case.

    Therefore: IF the bike box is clearly in advance of the position of the turning vehicles (whether lorries, SUVs or Smartforfours) AND a convex mirror is installed at the appropriate place at the signal, AND the road rules & policies do not intrinsically place the cyclist in harm’s way, I think the mirrors might well decrease the deaths being discussed in the article – and let’s recall that they clearly delineated over half of the bicycle /vehicle deaths in London were caused by crashes with lorries, and they stipulated that MOST of those crashes were of the run-hook variety.

    There’s my 20p’s worth (from Sacramento California)


  9. MikeOnBike Says:

    Gerard said: “note that in the illustration there is a bicycle box which means that the cyclist ends up preceding the motorist”

    Which requires that the cyclist pass the truck on the curb side blind spot to get to the box. Which is the very behavior we want to discourage, not enable.

  10. fred_dot_u Says:

    One of the better arguments I’ve read regarding the bicycle box is that a signal change during the cyclist’s travel to the front puts the cyclist at the greatest risk. Remove the lane, remove the risk, but above all, educate the road users properly.

    If these bike lanes are equipped with signs, as one approaches the intersections, the signs could be replaced with others indicating to both motorists and cyclist to enter the traffic lane (and control it). That would require, of course, that traffic planners also become educated. Such a gargantuan task.

  11. mikey2gorgeous Says:

    The problem is partially that we have less space in the UK. When you try and move the bike lane to somewhere else we end up with completely ridiculous segmented bike lanes that require cyclists to cross 6 or more mini junctions to get across one meeting of the roads.

    What’s needed is a major investment in cycling infrastructure by local councils lead & funded by the government. At the moment cycle lanes here are mostly an afterthought painted onto existing road layouts.

Leave a Reply

Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Transport column to me at:

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage:

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency:

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau:

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013 “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



June 2009
« May   Jul »

No, you probably won be compensated one million dollars; however, with the right blend of negotiating skills and patience, your efforts will be substantially rewarded!I have seen up to forty thousand dollars added to starting compensation through diligent negotiations. It is a way to significantly raise your standard of living and sense of self, simply by