Trixi mirrors are large circular mirrors that are attached to traffic lights. Their purpose is to allow lorry drivers to see cyclists who are travelling alongside the vehicle. The introduction of Trixi mirrors was motivated by an accident in which a 13-year-old Swiss girl, Beatrix Willburger, collided with an HGV. Beatrix was seriously injured by the accident, which prompted her father to campaign for Trixi mirrors – which are named after his daughter – to be used all over Europe.
The Case for Trixi Mirrors
In Britain, Trixi mirrors are badly needed. A recent report in The Guardian revealed that one cyclist is killed every month in an accident on the roads of the capital city. Many more are left seriously injured or disfigured. Other cities experience similar problems. In the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, cycling is the preferred mode of transport of many students, and accidents are far from uncommon. Rural areas can also be danger zones, as the roads in many towns and villages have not been adapted for cyclists, who are left sharing space with cars, lorries, and HGVs.
Trixi mirrors protect cyclists by allowing HGV drivers to see the left hand side of their vehicle. This area is usually a blind spot; it is not covered by the mirrors positioned in and around the driver’s cab. As a result, the driver may move his vehicle into the cycle lane without realising that there is a cyclist there. The force transmitted to the cyclist is huge, due to the massive size of the HGV, and therefore injuries or even death are likely to occur.
Trixi Mirrors in the UK
Trixi mirrors were trialled in London in 2010, but their reach was limited. Only 39 mirrors were installed, and some of them are now badly in need of repair. In the intervening two years, many more cyclists have been killed, but Trixi mirrors still haven’t been rolled out on a large scale. Activists have now lost patience and are petitioning the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to ask him to install more Trixi mirrors to protect cyclists on the capital’s busy roads. They are hopeful that the petition will not fall on deaf ears. After all, Boris Johnson has shown himself as keen to promote cycling in London through cycle hire schemes.
The 2012 Olympics has brought an unprecedented urgency to the need to reform London transport, and promoting cycling is regarded as a key part of the strategy to keep traffic levels at a manageable level during the games. For these reasons, the issue of ensuring the safety of London’s cyclists has never been more pressing. It is hoped that Trixi mirrors will soon be appearing at junctions all over the capital, potentially saving the lives of hundreds of cyclists.
In February 2012, the government’s Transport Minister, Norman Baker, passed a ruling that allows local authorities to fit Trixi mirrors to any set of traffic lights without seeking approval from the government. It is now down to each council to decide whether to use the mirrors in their local area. Hopefully, many local leaders will decide to make use of Trixi mirrors to make the UK’s roads a safer place for cyclists.