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

Lauri Boxer-Macomber Feb 15, 2019

Are kindergarteners our best hope for ending distracted driving? Are teens more likely to be receptive to lessons about bicycle and pedestrian safety delivered by their teachers, mentors, and peers than their parents? Are schools the place to start making our roads safer?   Visionary lawmakers from across the State of Maine are not only […]

Read More
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Feb 07, 2019

In 2016, Dr. Carol Eckert was struck by a driver while she was riding her bicycle on a rural Maine roadway.   According to media accounts of the crash, the driver who struck her with his truck claimed he did not see her and was blinded by the sun.  Dr. Eckert died three days later, but the […]

Read More
Ann Groninger Jan 16, 2019

There is nothing good about losing a beloved husband, father and member of the community. Eugene (Gene) Rotberg will never be replaced; everyone who knew him has a hole in his or her heart because of Gene’s absence. Of course, the loss to his wife, two grown children and grandchildren is immeasurable. But sometimes new […]

Read More
Bryan Waldman Jan 04, 2019

To put it mildly, legislation to make Michigan a better and safer place for bicyclists has never been a priority for Michigan lawmakers. Those who have worked to advance bicycle laws have proposed common sense legislation for years. While a minority of state lawmakers seemed sympathetic to our cause, they were frank in telling us […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Nov 28, 2018

I asked my 7 year old son, Will, to draw me a picture of each of these things: life with cars; life with electric cars; life with autonomous cars; they all looked the same. But the fourth picture- life in a modern, forward thinking, and environmentally, economically, and socially responsible place- looked very different. Even […]

Read More
Matt Johnson Nov 06, 2018

We were somewhere around Denison on the edge of the corn fields when the Eurostyle Chamois Butter began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded, maybe we should stop at a watering station…” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us, and the road was full of […]

Read More
Peter Wilborn Oct 02, 2018

October is a big month in the triathlon world, with the Kona Ironman World Championships on the 13th. So it is good news that Triathlete Magazine chose its October issue to focus on bicycle safety and advocacy. Bike Law Director (and our resident triathlete) Rachael Maney was featured and interviewed in the piece. She shared […]

Read More
Peter Wilborn Sep 28, 2018

Chicago has become one of the nation’s top cycling cities, but along with more has come an increase in dooring crashes. A Chicago news channel has covered the issue and interviewed attorney Brendan Kevenides, Bike Law’s legal resource in Illinois. Brendan explained the growing risk to cyclists and how the “Dutch Reach” can help.  The […]

Read More
Amy Benner Johnson Sep 21, 2018

Drivers are coming within less than 1.5 feet of cyclists on the road in Knoxville with alarming regularity. Drivers are coming within less than two feet of cyclists on the road in Knoxville with alarming regularity. It’s not your imagination. It’s not all in your head. Your combined senses of touch, sound, and sight all […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Sep 12, 2018

You may have already seen the video below. If you haven’t, please watch. On Tuesday, August 24th just before 7PM, Jeff McCord and approximately 20 other cyclists were stopped at the intersection of Karl Daly and Grants Mill Road in Irondale, Alabama, a town outside the city of Birmingham. As McCord waited for an ambulance […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Aug 30, 2018

In 2010, Richmond, California got lucky when Brooklyn born Najari Smith planted roots in the Bay Area city, quickly claiming a very important role in his new community. Having given more than 1,100 bikes to Richmond’s youth and community members in the last 6 years, Najari’s vision and mission to promote a bike-centric lifestyle has […]

Read More
Bruce Hagen Jul 17, 2018

On July 11, 2018, a very experienced rider and friend to many in the Rockdale County area, Albert “Ab” Roesel, was killed while out on a rural road doing a ride that he no doubt had done many times before.  Ab was 75 years old.   The police investigation concluded that Ab had been headed Southbound, […]

Read More
Load More