Cyclists condemn mayor's decision to disband police lorry safety unit

I don't like to talk about cycling in terms of death and danger, essentially because it's safer than walking down the street & I don't like to perpetuate the 'cycling is a dangerous activity' myth, as oppose to promoting it as being ordinary and everyday.  But, in this instance, I think this story is worth highlighting and shows how our 'cycling Mayor' has made a terrible mistake of a decision.  Story lifted straight from the pages of our friends over at the London Cycling Campaign - all credit to them.

Cyclists condemn mayor's decision to disband police lorry safety unit

The mayor Boris Johnson has been strongly criticised for his decision to disband a specialist lorry safety unit run by the Metropolitan Police force.
The decision to axe the Commercial Vehicle Education Unit (CVEU) comes in a year when 8 of the 10 cyclists fatalities in London have involved collisions with lorries.
70% of the vehicles checked by the unit since 2005 have been found to be defective, and it is the only such unit in the country.
LCC cycling development officer Charlie Lloyd said, "It's difficult to believe that our cycling mayor is disbanding the only police unit in the country that has the power to properly investigate unsafe lorry operators, and bring them up to standards set by Health and Safety law.
Eight of ten 2009 cyclist fatalities involve HGVs
Despite the high proportion of cyclist fatalities involving HGVs, the mayor has claimed that the voluntary scheme for haulage companies, the Freight Operators Recognition Scheme (FORS), provides adequate protection for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.
Lloyd said, "The mayor sings the praises of the Freight Operators Recognition Scheme, but there's a significant minority of operators who will never consider joining. It's for these people that the police need expert powers to pursue them until they comply with the law."
Mayor "badly informed" on cyclist/HGV safety
Jenny Jones, London Assembly Member for the Green Party, said, "Not enough is being done to stop cyclists and others from going under the wheels of HGVs in London. What little has been done has mostly been carried out by the police officers in this unit.
"The mayor is badly informed if he thinks that the small back-street haulage firms and businesses will sign up to his voluntary scheme."
Boris Johnson said, "The three sergeants and nine constables [of the CVEU] are being directed to other jobs as part of savings in the police budget.
"That's only happening because we're confident that the freight operators, through the FORS, will implement safety measures."
What is the Commercial Vehicle Education Unit?
Since 2005 the CVEU has completed over 3000 roadside checks of freight vehicles, finding fault in over 70% of cases. The unit has also visited over 400 companies to examine procedures, agree action plans, and issue improvement notices under the Health and Safety Act.

The unit costs Transport for London less than £1 million per year. The funding goes to the Metropolitan Police Service under a  parterneship agreement with the Transport for London Freight Unit.
The combined budget for the police and transport in London in 2009-10 is over £11 billion. 


Skippo said...

Crazy. The biggest problem down here in Plymouth is buses, especially the park and ride ones. Because they dont have to stop at as many stops as regular buses they floor them and pass by very close at high speed. IF London is anything like this, the unit should be expanded to cover buses as well as HGV's rather than disbanded

ibikelondon said...

Crazy indeed - re the buses, these come under the remit of Tfl anyway, which works with the Met on making sure they are up to standard - but yeah, I agree they can be problematic; and of course bendy buses are HGVs (you need an articulated license to drive them) so can be inspected by the unit.

In fairness, most of the bus drivers in London are used to the volume of cyclists and sharing their lanes with them - the major issue with the lorries seems to stem from them coming into the city on one-off trips; say to pour concrete at a new building works - and not being driven or equipped properly (side sensors, extra mirrors etc)

Definitely a daft move by our so-called cycling Mayor.

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