The introduction of safer lorries to Britain’s streets is being blocked by governments acting under pressure from their domestic vehicle manufacturers, and the ringleader is a nation traditionally thought of as cycle-friendly: France.
According to Matthew Beard of the Evening Standard, France, Sweden and Italy have been pressured by Renault, Skania and Iveco to block the introduction of new rules for HGVs. The measures would make them much safer for vulnerable road users by improving vision from the cab and reducing the severity of impacts.
The new design rules were voted in last month by MEPs, though a significant number of British MEPs voted against. UKIP MEPs in particular voted in accordance with party policy of voting against all European regulatory measures regardless of how many children’s lives they might save.
Campaigners say the measure would save 1,000 cyclists lives per year, but under pressure from vehicle manufacturers the reforms may take a decade to implement. A draft paper from the European Council seen by the Standard says the new regs “shall start to apply only  years after” the three years EU member states are allowed to incorporate the rules into national laws, taking the total delay to 2025.
As originally drawn up, the plans would have allowed manufacturers to gradually introduce new safety features from 2018, with the full set of new design rules becoming mandatory for all new lorries in 2022.
William Todts of sustainable transport group Transport & Environment said: “That the French are trying to shield industry laggards from innovation and competition is hardly surprising. That the UK is doing nothing to stop them is indefensible, especially given the situation for London’s cyclists and pedestrians. If the British Government is serious about preventing road deaths, it needs to get its act together.”
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.