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DfT and Mayor announce plans to tackle HGV safety and support London’s 'cycling revolution', 4/9/13

Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond, London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and London’s Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy CBE, today (4 September 2013) announced measures to improve cycle safety in London.

Among the measures announced:

  • DfT and TfL to establish new industrial HGV task force to take direct action against dangerous HGV drivers, vehicles and operators
  • DfT to review exemptions to current HGV regulations
  • call for European Union to speed up its review on the design of HGVs to increase drivers’ visibility of vulnerable road users
  • DfT and the Driving Standards Agency issuing a call for evidence about how driver training could change
  • the Mayor is also asking Londoners for their views on whether he should use his powers to levy a substantial “safer lorry charge” on any HGV which is not fitted with basic safety equipment to protect cyclists.

Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond, said, "The government is committed to improving the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users. Today’s (4 September 2013) announcement of a dedicated Industrial HGV task force will target the small minority of large goods vehicle operators who are unaware of, or just wilfully non-compliant with, safety regulations for HGVs and their drivers. I have also committed to review vehicle regulations to ensure there are no unjustified exemptions from safety standards and, together with the Mayor, will press the EU to improve vehicle safety designs as soon as possible."

"Both the minister and the Mayor will continue to press for improved vehicle design through active engagement with vehicle manufacturers and the EU. This will look to improve the visibility of cyclists from lorry cabs, including cyclists at the front and on the nearside of lorries. They will also work with training providers who deliver Bikeability training to promote better cyclist awareness of lorries, as well as with training providers and the road freight industry to help further improve driver training."

“Safer lorry charge”

The Mayor will also ask Londoners for their views on whether he should use his powers to levy a substantial “safer lorry charge” on any HGV which is not fitted with basic safety equipment to protect cyclists. TfL will consult on this proposal, partly modelled on the low emission zone, before taking any decisions.

The Mayor, Boris Johnson, said "I have long been worried that a large number of cyclist deaths involve a relatively small number of problem lorries which are not fitted with safety equipment. In my cycling vision in March, I said that no lorry should be allowed in London unless it is fitted with equipment to protect cyclists. After a lot of work behind the scenes, we have today (4 September 2013) taken the first steps to make this a reality."


Police in London promote understanding between cyclists and HGVs with Exchanging Places events

The Metropolitan Police Cycle Task Force has organised a series of ‘Exchanging Places’ events to raise awareness of cycle safety. These events involve people trying out the view of the road from the driver's seat of a HGV or bus to get a better understanding of what the driver can and can’t see, especially for cyclists on the nearside and directly in front of the vehicle.

The series of 16 exchanging places events will take place across London until 12 November. Bike marking will also be offered at the following events:

For more information about Exchanging Places, email the Cycle Task Force.

Cycle Task Force officer educates cyclist on lorry driver’s blind spotsKeltbray, a UK engineering, construction and decommissioning services company, is supporting today’s Exchanging Places cycling safety event in Old Palace Yard, London, where the 10,000th cyclist to participate in the scheme will take a seat in Keltbray’s HGV to get a better understanding of driver blind spots and safe behaviour around large vehicles.

Since 2010, Keltbray has supported Transport for London and the metropolitan Police with more than 60 cycle safety events, and been integral to the Exchanging Places Initiative by providing lorries for cyclists to demonstrate blind spots and promote safer cycling.

The company said it was one of the first companies to fit side proximity sensor cycle technology systems to its haulage fleet.

This year, Keltbray’s entire 228 strong company and hire fleet, which includes tipper vehicles and vans, were also fitted with a CCTV system, which records and stores data and provides the driver with live feeds from different angles, including the front, near side cab and far side cab reverse views onto a split screen which is mounted in the cab.

Keltbray’s Haulage Operations Director, Adrian Scott, said: “While enhancing visibility for drivers, this also improves safety for other road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians. It is also proving to be a valuable driver training tool."

“Keltbray’s drivers are trained to the highest standards when it comes to careful driving and road awareness, and failure by them to comply with this philosophy will result in suspension or dismissal. However, it is important that everybody takes responsibility for their own safety on the road in order that we make it a safer place.”


Cities fit for Cycling

On Monday, around 5000 cyclists took part in a protest organised by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) calling for the mayor to allow more space for cycling following a spate of deaths.

According to Transport for London figures quoted in The Evening Standard, Fourteen cyclists were killed on the capital’s roads last year, compared to 16 in 2011. A further 657 were seriously injured, up from 555 in 2011.

This year, six cyclists have died in London, most recently Dr Clive Richards who suffered a suspected heart attack after a collision with an HGV in Archway, north London, last month.

The LCC is calling for London-wide 20mph speed limits in residential streets, at least £10 to be spent per head on cycling, the separation of cyclists from traffic on main roads and at junctions and a more sustainable approach to policy-making.

Other demands include setting out timetables to upgrade Cycle Superhighway 2 to international standards of cycle tracks along its entire length and for the creation of the central London BikeGrid of safe routes in Zone 1.

LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha said: “We urge the mayor of London and prime minister to show the leadership qualities needed to make this happen.”

The LCC protest converged on Parliament as it debated the recommendations in the All-Parliamentary Cycling Group's Get Britain Cycling parliamentary report, which about 100 MPs from all three main parties unanimously supported.

The Get Britain Cycling parliamentary report, was produced after an inquiry funded with a £10,000 donation from the parent company of The Times, which has campaigned for improved cycling safety through its Cities fit for Cycling campaign.

According to The Times report on the cycling debate, Maria Eagle, the Shadow Transport Secretary, criticised the Department for Transport for pledging only £114 million for cycling expenditure over the next three years out of a total roads budget of £28 billion and added that encouraging people to make short journeys by bicycle instead of by car had “huge potential to cut congestion and boost the economy”.

Labour’s eight-point cycling manifesto would also ensure all new transport schemes are assessed for cycle safety and tougher guidelines forcing HGVs to carry extra safety equipment.

The manifesto sets out plans for an Active Travel Bill, as introduced in Wales this year to oblige councils to build safe cycling routes, to be extended to England. It also pledges better training in schools, improved facilities at railway stations, a review of sentencing guidelines for fatal collisions and national targets to increase cycling levels.

The Government was criticised during the debate for abolishing the Cycling England strategy body while Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, came under fire for suggesting last week that pro-cycling councils had an “anti-car dogma”.

Mike Thornton, the Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh, criticised last month’s funding pledge of £94 million for just eight cities around the UK, asking: “What about the rest of us?” He added there was a “remarkable degree of consensus” in the House in support of doing more to boost cycling.

John Stevenson, the Conservative MP for Carlisle, added: “We need to make cars and drivers much, much more aware of the dangers of coming into contact with cyclists.”

The Lib Dems are planning to adopt the Get Britain Cycling report as party policy while Ian Austin, Labour MP for Dudley North, said parties should compete for the “best manifesto for cycling” at the next election.

Last month Norman Baker, the Transport Minister, said the Government takes cycling “very seriously” and wants to go “even further”.

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