IIslington Council has announced that all lorry drivers working for the council or on building sites in the borough will have to take a cycling course to help make them aware of the needs of vulnerable road users, including cyclists.
The bike training will be part of a Safe Urban Driving training course which all drivers will have to take if they work directly for the council or its contractors. In addition, the council will use its planning powers to encourage independent developers to send their drivers on the course or an equivalent.
The decision comes just days after transport minister Robert Goodwill told the Commons Transport Select Committee that it would be a good idea for truck drievsr to spend some time on a bike.
According to the Islington Tribune, the council will insist that any developer of a large project - more than 10 flats - has its drivers trained as part of granting planning permission.
Transport chief Councillor Andy Hull announced the policy at Thursday night’s council meeting. In a statement he said: “The safety of cyclists on Islington’s roads is a matter of life and death which the council takes extremely seriously.
“Through this new package of measures, we are pulling the different levers at our disposal to make the borough a safer place, not only for people on bikes but for pedestrians and drivers too.
“We can never eliminate all risk on our roads, but by acting on our fleet, procurement and planning policies we are doing what we can to minimise it.”
He told the Tribune that around 30 percent of all road crashes in Islington involve cyclists, but the six percent of roads under the control of Transport for London account for 47 percent of crashes.
“The council is, therefore, lobbying for road safety improvements on TfL’s roads, and in particular safety improvements for cyclists and pedestrians,” he said.
That means improving major gyratory and one-way systems in the borough including the Archway gyratory where Dr Clive Richards was killed by an HGV in August.
Training lorry drivers he said, was “something we can do now”.
The London Cycling Campaign welcomed the move. The LCC’s Tom Bogdonavich said: “We’re very much in favour of this. Anything that councils can do to make the roads safer for cyclists is to be welcomed.
“It’s an excellent step forward, but it is only one step. Ideally we’d like to see lorries redesigned so they do not have blind spots, by lowering the windscreens to knee height, such as you see in coaches or some rubbish trucks. And, separately, we’d like to see an improvement in infrastructure – including in Islington – to make cycling safe.”
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.