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‘Black spot mirrors’ save lives in Amsterdam

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Mirrors like this are being
used in Amsterdam to reduce
right-hook collisions.
(Photos: Todd Boulanger)

Here’s an interesting idea that was spotted by City of Vancouver transportation planner Todd Boulanger on a recent trip to Amsterdam.

Boulanger visited the Netherlands in April to attend the Intertraffic Conference and he ran across what he calls a “new application of a traditional tool” — convex mirrors placed on traffic signals. They’re called black spot mirrors or “dead angle mirrors”.

According to Boulanger, the mirror is heated for all-weather use and it can be turned to any angle, independent of the existing traffic signal.

Here’s another photo:

A black spot mirror from Amsterdam.

In Amsterdam, traffic engineers and advocates are working together to reduce collisions in the “dead angle” of truck drivers. One reason cited for the success of these mirrors — which have been installed at over 100 locations in Amsterdam — is that they are placed where motorists are already looking (as opposed to just another traffic sign).

Boulanger also passed along this quote from Tjeerd Herrema, Transportation Alderman for the City of Amsterdam:

“There is still too much misfortune because of bicyclists hit in the dead angle of truck drivers. These black spot mirrors improve visibility within the ‘dead angle’. Each movement victims prevented is welcomed. The mirror is one of the resources installed to improve the road safety in Amsterdam.”

It seems an inexpensive solution like this could vastly improve safety at intersections — especially ones like W. Burnside and 14th in Portland, where a woman on a bike was killed back in October.