London acts to improve cycle safety around lorries

New initiatives given qualified thumbs-up from LCC

by Martin Thomas   July 6, 2010  

London:cyclist in traffic (copyright Simon MacMichael).jpg

London is adopting three new safety initiatives to cut down on the number of collisions between cyclists and lorries.

The new measures have been welcomed by the London Cycling Campaign – but with some reservations.

The first cycle safety (‘Trixi’) mirror to be trialled in a UK city has been installed on a traffic signal at a junction in Tooting.

Trixi mirrors give drivers of large vehicles better visibility of cyclists at junctions, and 39 of them will be installed at traffic signals on London’s roads for a six-month trial period.

Thirty-seven of the mirrors will be installed on the Barclays Cycle Superhighways pilot routes – and 31 will be in place before the scheme launches on 19 July.

Perhaps slightly less impressive, the second initiative is what’s described as a ‘thought-provoking’ poster campaign from TfL designed to illustrate the danger cyclists put themselves in by riding up the left hand side of lorries at junctions.

The third initiative is a memorandum of understanding that commits the Mayor, TfL and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) to working together to improve cycle safety in London.

Mayor Boris Johnson, said, “Safety is the top priority of the cycle revolution that we’re bringing to London. That is why we are taking direct action to do everything we can to give cyclists and HGV drivers the tools and information they need to navigate our roads, and each other, safely.

“The Trixi mirrors will improve the visibility of cyclists and our poster campaign will increase their awareness of the danger of being on the inside of heavy vehicles at junctions. But I am especially pleased that the HGV industry has responded and is ready to act on this issue. Their commitment is important for us to be able to make the Capital’s roads even safer to cycle on.”

The seven-point memorandum of understanding will be managed by a working group made up of TfL and London’s key freight operators, and includes the following:

  • identifying specific locations and times of the day where loading and unloading activity or commercial vehicle routing might conflict with cycle routes
  • identifying training needs for all road users, particularly cyclists and drivers of large vehicles
  • examining road traffic enforcement and engineering measures to find a balance between their enforceability and practicality

TfL is also encouraging all cyclists to watch a two-minute film on how to cycle safely around London.

Ben Plowden, Director of Better Routes and Places at TfL, said, “Cycling is a wonderful way to get around London and the vast majority of cycle journeys are completed safely. Cycle safety has improved significantly in the last decade, despite the number of journeys more than doubling in that time.

“While the new Trixi mirror trial is an important tool in our ongoing work to tackle collisions between cyclists and HGVs, cyclists can also help themselves to stay safe on London’s roads. As our new awareness campaign makes clear, cycling in a lorry’s blind spot can, and tragically sometimes does, have fatal consequences. We hope this campaign will help inform London’s cyclists on how to position themselves safely on the road.”

LCC campaign officer Charlie Lloyd gave a qualified thumbs-up to all three initiatives. He said, “Trixi mirrors are an experiment and we don’t know yet if they’re going to work or not – it will take a long time to assess because thankfully this is a rare problem. There’s an element of randomness about where these accidents happen, but having said that they do seem to be putting them in sensible places.

“There must be doubts about the effectiveness of any poster campaign, however good the posters are. It’s human nature to let these things wash over us. But the real thing that’s missing is that they should be addressed to the driver, not the cyclist. Lorry drivers should be thinking about safety at every junction and the way to encourage this in our view is through things like training and getting them out on bikes to experience the danger for themselves.

“We also welcome the agreement with the FTA and we know they are sincere and genuinely trying to help. But they only represent the responsible end of the industry, which isn’t really where the main problem is. Also, we feel that the agreement doesn’t go far enough about things like limiting delivery times.”

2 user comments

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I don't agree with Charlie Lloyds comments in response to the poster campaign about being addressed to the driver not the cyclist. Cyclists that do position themselves on the inside of lorries at junctions are putting themselves at risk and education is needed. the posters you see on the back of lorries warning cyclists not to go up the inside are perfect and possibly it should be law to have them on the back of every lorry on our roads. I've driven both HGV's and large farm machinery over the years and the amount of cyclists that come up the inside and sit in your blind spots on roundabouts, junctions and traffic lights is unbelievable. Driver training is only going to help up to a point, if you can't see a cyclist because of their position next to the vehicle you'll never be able to see them.

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posted by stuke [298 posts]
7th July 2010 - 15:50

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Having nearly been squashed only the other week by an overtaking HGV who didn't even bother to check his mirrors to see whether he was past me, I fully endorse getting HGV and Bus drivers on pushbikes. Maybe it could be used as part of their training, it's not until you have ridden that you can fully appreciate how vulnerable a cyclist is, particularly to the draft that lorries make when they thunder past at speed.

Don't get me wrong I am not anti-lorry/bus/car but I do believe that walking a mile in someone elses shoes etc....

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posted by badbunny [71 posts]
9th July 2010 - 12:20

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