02

Blog

The Left Cross: cyclists seen with eyes, but not brain

I/Bruce had 2 new clients come in last week within a few hours of each other.  Both had almost identical stories of drivers headed the opposite direction making left turns directly in front of them (aka, the “Left Cross”), causing the cyclist to slam into the passenger side of the vehicle.   Both clients were very experienced riders, not your average weekender.   Both were following the law, both were wearing appropriate safety gear, neither were listening to music or distracted in any way.   Talking to these 2 cyclists, who both had serious but fortunately not catastrophic injuries, made me once again wonder why it is that motorists don’t see bicyclists headed towards them.

Actually, that’s an inaccurate statement.   The drivers see the cyclists, but only with their eyes, not with their brains.  I confirmed the difference while cross examining a defense expert in a case involving the death of a cyclist.  The expert conceded that sight is a function of the brain, not just of the eyes.   If the eye sees something but the brain doesn’t register it, then it’s as though there is nothing there.   I’ve had clients tell me “I made eye contact with the driver, but he turned in front of me like I wasn’t even there.”   Eye contact yes, registering in the brain, obviously not.

Not convinced?   Take this 1 minute test, it’s easy:

Like it or not, most drivers aren’t looking out for bicycles, they’re looking for cars.   An oncoming bicycle may not register in the driver’s brain because they’re situationally blind to seeing the bike.  It’s a mind game that’s incredibly dangerous for us when we’re on the roads.

So what can cyclists do to minimize the likelihood of becoming a victim of the Left Cross or it’s evil sister, the Right Hook?   Simply stated, anything that forces a driver consciously to notice you will help.

1.  Use a front headlight, even during the day.   I like to set mine on a flashing setting.  A bright white light makes you more visible even during daylight.  Same for a flashing rear light;

2.  Wear bright colored clothing, highly visible and with reflective material;

3.  Be mindful of cars going the same direction as you that are ahead and to your left.   A vehicle coming from the opposite direction will wait until that vehicle passes, then turn left across your path without any inkling that you’re in the lane.  In that example, you are the Moonwalking Bear;

4.  If you’re not sure that a driver knows you’re there, wave to get their attention.  I’d’ rather look stupid and lose a little bit of time off my ride then end up over the hood of a car (or worse).

Those are just a few thoughts, I’d certainly appreciate any feedback.   Let’s all be safe and have fun.

Comments

Denver Bicycle Riding on Sidewalk Ticket
Brian Weiss Mar 22, 2017

Bicycle commuters in Denver seem to be disproportionately targeted by the Denver Police for riding on the sidewalk when they are unable to give their side of the story.

Read More
NYC Google Maps
Daniel Flanzig Mar 20, 2017

An ongoing problem in New York State is the inability of a Police Officer to issue a traffic violation for an event they did not witness. Even if 10 witnesses confirm that a vehicle ran a red light and struck a cyclist, a Police Officer’s ability to write a summons is limited unless the event […]

Read More
Bike Law - 2017 Michigan Award
Bryan Waldman Mar 15, 2017

We weren’t able to narrow it down to 1 mechanic so we picked 3 mechanics as this year’s Bike Law Michigan Mechanic of the Year!

Read More
Spring Bike Maintenance
Arleigh Jenkins Mar 14, 2017

Read our in-house mechanic’s top tips for getting your bike ready for spring riding.

Read More
Bike Law - Victim Blaming in Bike Crashes
Arleigh Jenkins Mar 07, 2017

Bike Law network members, Lauri Boxer-Macomber (Maine) and Brian Weiss (Colorado) talk about how the media and law enforcement should treat crash reporting more fairly.

Read More
Bike Law Kickr Review
Arleigh Jenkins Feb 20, 2017

A 500-mile initial review of the Wahoo Kickr Indoor trainer, why we purchased it and who we think it is for.

Read More
Hazards of Biking with a GoPro or Garmin
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Feb 15, 2017

Did you know that there are reasons for riding with and without cameras strapped to your handlebars and embedded within your tail lights?

Read More
Cycling Law Enforcement Training in Georgia
Bruce Hagen Feb 10, 2017

CBS Atlanta News This past November, Fulton County elected a new sheriff. (Yes, there’s literally a New Sheriff in Town.) During the run-up to the election, one of the candidates posted a tasteless video of John Wayne shooting guns and seemingly taking out cyclists. This created a huge backlash. One of the candidates for Sheriff, […]

Read More
2017 Moving People Forward Conference
Arleigh Jenkins Feb 08, 2017

This past Monday I attended the Moving People Forward conference in downtown Denver. The conference was hosted by Bicycle Colorado in lieu of their annual Colorado Bike Summit which has been moved to later in the year. Leaving the conference I had mixed emotions from my attendance. As I boarded the commuter rail back to my […]

Read More
Olga Cook Ghost Bike
Daniel Flanzig Feb 02, 2017

The New Jersey man charged with felony manslaughter for striking and killing cyclist Olga Cook in the bike lane on the West Side Highway has agreed to plead guilty to all charges.

Read More
Bike Law - 2017 Fat Bike Nationals
Bryan Waldman Feb 01, 2017

A recap of the 2017 Fat Bike Nationals held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Words from Bryan Waldman, and photo credit goes to Bike Law cyclocross racer, Wade Burch.

Read More
Cyclist Stop Sign
Brian Weiss Jan 30, 2017

Bike Law fully supports the Colorado Safety Stop Law, Senate Bill 93, that was introduced by Senator Andy Kerr to rethink the, “Operation Of Bicycles Approaching Intersections”.

Read More
Load More