Want safer lorries in London? Say Yes to this consultation

London's streets seem to be managed by an endless carousel of consultations - some of which seem to resonate with Transport for London's powers that be more than others.  But we have to work within the system we have, and that means getting involved from the outset.

The very serious threat that lorries pose to cyclists in London is well known and has been documented in depth on ibikelondon here, and here all the way back in 2010.  Last year, HGVs were involved in 9 out of 13 cyclist fatalities on London's roads.

Following years of campaigning by bloggers, activists and the London Cycling Campaign, TfL now plan to introduce a "safer lorry zone" where all lorries over 3.5 tonnes - including, most importantly, skip lorries and construction lorries - must have side guards, class V mirrors and class VI mirrors.  The area will be the same as the Low Emission Zone - roughly the boundary of greater London.  Trucks that don't have the right safety kit will effectively be banned.  By their calculations TfL estimate an additional 2,500 to 7,500 vehicles will be fitted with side guards as a consequence of the scheme.

For too long in London poorly run construction firms have argued that their trucks need ground clearance higher than the height of a man merely in order to access unpaved building sites.  This has been a foil to avoid spending money on much needed side guards, which save cyclists lives.  I'm exceptionally pleased that TfL, directed by the Mayor, no longer intend to tolerate this.  The more progressive corners of the freight industry should welcome these moves too.

However, those same construction companies who have so steadfastly refused to clean up their act will now be responding to this consultation to try and have the good work undone.  The Freight Trade Association have been terrifyingly wide of the mark in the past as well, so who knows how they will respond.  Policy is shaped by those who input, which is why I'm responding to the consultation positively, and would encourage you to do so too.  It is vital that the voices commending this proposal outweigh those who would seek to distract from its benefits.

You have until September 22nd to respond, and can use my response below as a template if you want. 

Not sure how to cycle around an HGV safely?  This post is for you.

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Andy Macc said...

For too long in London arrogant cyclists have argued that they don't need to take notice of basic rules of the road which are there for everyone's safey because they have superior judgement and are able to decide when running a red light, not using bike lights at night or riding on the pavement is safe and necessary to their requirement that they are never held up on their journey.

This has been a foil to avoid having to wait for other road users and spend money on lights which make the roads safer for everyone.

I'm exceptionally pleased that TfL, directed by the Mayor, no longer intend to tolerate this. The more progressive corners of the cycling world should welcome these moves too.

ibikelondon said...

Andy, I'm assuming your post is supposed to be a clever play on my own words but it doesn't quite wash.

You see, if you take the time to look at the statistical evidence surrounding the deaths of vulnerable road users in collisions involving HGVs (not just cyclists but pedestrians too) it is very clear that HGVs are involved in a disproportionate amount of fatalities. Other evidence demonstrates that in the majority of cycling fatalities, the vulnerable party has not been at fault. That's fatalities, Andy, you know, when people are killed.

To suggest that cyclists are somehow keen to have themselves killed by virtue of some sense of superiority is clearly and demonstrably nonsense.

I agree with you that there is bad behaviour in all road user groups, including cyclists. The impact of some road user groups bad behaviour is more damaging than others. 70% of all HGVs checked by the Met Police's specialist lorry unit between 2005 and 2009 were found to be defective. That's the same group of road users whose vehicles have killed nearly 70 cyclists since our current Mayor came to power. Still want to talk about bad behaviour, Andy?

Bikehound said...

Andy, want to talk about bad behaviour? Why do we warn motorists that a stretch of road has speed cameras on it as well as painting them bright yellow? Because the vast majority of car drivers exceed the 30mph speed limit by any chance?

This blog post wasn't about apportioning blame, it was about making roads less deadly...

Paul M said...

I responded to the consultation on-line, which of course means clicking various boxes or "radio buttons" on the questionnaire.

The snag with this approach (which I guess is the way most private individuals would probably comment, rather than writing a narrative email or letter) is that it offers you options for responding which don't fit your views - a bit like being asked "when did you stop beating your wife?". The most objectionable question was this - there is a list of about a dozen makes/models of HGV in the relevant category not already covered by safety feature regulations, which they propose to exempt from this extension of the regs because they are not capable of being fitted with the proposed safety features. Do you think there are any other vehicles which should be added to this list?

I added a narrative comment in the box provided to the effect that not only should no vehicles be added to the list, but that there should be NO exemptions whatever - if a particular make/model of vehicle was not capable of being fitted with appropriate safety features then it is not fit for purpose in a busy city centre and should quite simply be banned from entering the city altogether. Period.

I also commented on the hugely unambitious assumptions on the number of KSIs the change is expected to save, that they should be seeking to implement further measures which would achieve far large reductions.

ibikelondon said...

Thanks Paul. I agree that the online consultation system is not perfect, and seems to come from a position of posing the questions at the freight industry - as if they are the only ones who would respond. Talk about creating a foregone conclusion! This is why I opted for the email approach rather than the tick boxes - I applaud you for sticking it out till the end!

congokid said...

I wouldn't be too enthusiastic about anything that comes out of this when the authorities continue to ignore the most successful means of protecting vulnerable road users from HGVs - separation both in time and space (ie, rush hour or daylight bans on HGVs, and segregated infrastructure).

However, the very class of vehicles that causes so much death, suffering and damage on London's roads is going to be able to travel even faster on rural roads following the government's recent decision - against all the evidence - to raise the speed limit for lorries on single carriageway rural roads from 40mph to 50mph.

Rural roads more often than not feature blind corners, no footpaths or even verges, and very little in the way of speed control such as speed cameras. As a result they offer a great deal less protection to walkers, cyclists and other vulnerable road users than urban roads and the government's move demonstrates that it is only too willing to put financial interests over people’s safety.

Even the DfT's own impact assessment suggests casualties could rise by between 10 and 20 per cent.

The clear message to vulnerable road users is that they are not welcome on rural roads and they will effectively be excluded from using them.

The rise in speed limit also means that many more of these vehicles will take to rural roads as their satnavs will indicate quicker journey times than previously.

The new speed limit would apparently save the haulage sector some £11 million a year, but that will be a drop in the ocean compared with the cost of lives ended or ruined, not to mention the cost of repairing damaged roads.

Yet again big business, in this case the road haulage industry, demonstrates that it has the government firmly in its pocket.

ibikelondon said...

Thanks for your thoughts CongoKid.

I'm not going to dwell on the rural roads speed limit here because the focus of this page is on London. I agree that raising the speed limit for trucks on rural roads is a bad idea, and I hope that our national cycling bodies are able to see it off.

Regarding keeping lorries and cyclists separate, I agree with you that separation is important. That's why this blog has been campaigning for high quality segregated cycling infrastructure from the outset.

However, there won't be cycle tracks everywhere, and collisions with large trucks can be fatal even at slow speeds on small roads that will never have cycle tracks on them (I remember the deaths of Ellie Carey and Muhamed Haris Ahmed, where side impact bars and correctly fitted mirrors should have been in place but weren't).

There is more than one way to segregate - we can also do it with time, as well as hard infrastructure, which is why I have asked TfL in my consultation letter to reconsider the London Lorry Control Scheme to get trucks off our streets during the morning peak which is when there are the most vulnerable road users out and the highest incidence of cycling fatalities in London.

Lastly, it goes without saying that these mirrors and side guards (the guards especially) are also worth asking for because they can help to save pedestrians, too.

charlie_lcc said...

I agree with Paul that the online response form is objectionable, particularly about the exceptions to the rules. Most of the exceptions are hidden in the arcane VOSA testing manuals in web links.
We recommend that you ask that the exemption on side guards allowed for most articulated lorries carrying shipping containers is removed. Such a lorry was involved in the death of Phillipine de Guerin-Ricard who was riding one of the Mayor's hire bikes when she was swept under the rear wheels of a container trailer at Algate East in July 2013.
More detail on the LCC website.
- charlie

ibikelondon said...

Thanks Charlie for your additional insight and indeed all your campaigning that you've done on the lorry issue - I know you've been plugging away at this issue for years now, so thank you.

I will add your recommendation to my email to TfL and would urge others responding to do the same.

Unknown said...

For the Cyclist if they were there helmets onto of their helmets should be a pole with a flag on top so Lorry drivers can see em

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