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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.”

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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.

    http://www.ghostbikes.org/washington-dc

  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)

    Gerard

  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.

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