Thousands more lorry drivers in line for on-bike cycle awareness training

Training change hailed as big step forward in improving the safety of London cyclists

by Tony Farrelly   September 15, 2011  

Cement lorry in London © Simon MacMichael.jpg

London's streets are set to get safer for cyclists with the news that on bike cyclist awareness training has been approved as part of an HGV driver's Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), and that in some cases such training will be backed by Transport for London (TfL) funding.

On-bike driver training is just what it says and involves practice as well as theory. Lorry drivers are taken out on bikes accompanied by cycle trainers – the London Borough of Southwark starts the on-bike part of its training in the lorry park with one of the drivers in the cab revving the engine and on the rest on bikes beside him. Driver feedback from the courses is overwhelmingly positive says Charlie Lloyd, campaigns officer for the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) and a former lorry driver himself:

"HGV drivers who've cycled on the roads as part of the training tell us they become more aware of more vulnerable road users, which can help prevent injury and death to cyclists.
"Getting CPC-accreditation for on-bike cyclist-awareness training is a major step towards achieving our aim that all lorry drivers working in London know what it’s like to ride a bike in the city.”

In London HGVs account for around half of all cycling fatalities although the make up only 5 per cent of the traffic, nationally lorries account for a disproportionate number of cycle casualties too. Furthermore a disproptionate number of the cycling fatalities in lorry on bike incidents are made up by female cyclists. The situation in the capital prompted the London Cycling Campaign to launch its No More Lethal Lorries campaign which in July handed the mayor a 10,000 strong signature to City Hall calling for action. Lloyd says the petition played a big part in getting the change made

Six London boroughs have already given their drivers on-bike cyclist awareness training, up until now the stumbling block for others wishing to do so was funding, because such training was not CPC approved it had to be undertaken as an extra on top of CPC training with extra budget having to be allocated. CPC approval means that it can be included in CPC training without the need for extra money, the boroughs simply have to choose to include it. London boroughs that are part of the Biking Boroughs scheme and those that are members of TfL's Freight Operator Recognition Scheme, which is practically all of them, will now be eligible to send drivers working for them on TfL subsidised training courses. Making sure they do will be the next focus of the LCC's No More Lethal Lorries campaign says the LCC's Lloyd.

The world of professional driver training provision and it's funding is an arcane one, but essentially the change means that on-bike cyclist awareness training has been accepted as part of the curriculum of core skills that can be taught to drivers as part of their CPC training, and that a training provider, in this case TfL has had a course that includes on-bike training approved.

Councils and their contractors account for only a small number of the lorries moving in, around and through London every day. The really big win for campaigns will be getting private lorry operators to include on-bike cyclist awareness training as part of their CPC training – which bits of the CPC approved curriculum a company chooses for its drivers to be trained on is up to them, that isn't compulsory, having the annual training is. Barking and Dagenham which has one of the capital's highest concentration of transport and haulage firm within its boundaries has already started promoting the benefits of on-bike awareness training to the companies in its area.

Although the change to CPC driver training has been driven by the situation in London, now that such training has been approved there is nothing to stop other training providers and haulage companies in other parts of the UK coming up with similar schemes for which CPC approval should now be a formality.

9 user comments

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if this is received positively enough will we see on bike training as part of the standard driving test?

posted by thehood [25 posts]
15th September 2011 - 14:50


Maybe they should include the 'First' Bus drivers from Bath in this. I sent my first letter (email) of complaint to them today. Going along the Upper Bristol Road one pulled out on me, then further on down the road he overtook me, then pulled in, forcing me into the kerb.

The only reason that i can think of why he done that is because i had sunglasses on today and he probably couldn't see me properly only being 6'2" and all that... At Wits End

If that ride is important to you, you'll find a way to get it in!

road slapper's picture

posted by road slapper [95 posts]
15th September 2011 - 14:56


I've often thought that requiring all car, bus, van and truck drivers to take the full motorcycle test would teach a much broader understanding of road safety as well as many issues involving vulnerable road users and a much higher degree of driving ability. If it was up to me, all European drivers would be forced to take the full motorcycle test within a five year period, unless physically incapable of riding a motorcycle (and bear in mind that being without one limb would not prevent riding a motorcycle). Anyone not doing so would then lose their entitlement to drive a vehicle.


posted by OldRidgeback [2554 posts]
15th September 2011 - 15:07


Karl: I hope you get a reply from First Buses. They never replied to my email after a bus driver first forced me to swerve out of his way through a junction, then pushed me (literally) out of a cycle lane and onto the pavement and finally when I politely pointed out to the bus driver that he's almost killed me twice he said 'Third time lucky. Now piss off'.
I suggest contacting the Police... I wish I had.

posted by Serge [3 posts]
15th September 2011 - 19:51


On-bike diver training

Well I suppose if we get more floods the flippers and snorkel might be useful.

But seriously, this is good news.

Noli porcum linguere

captain_slog's picture

posted by captain_slog [307 posts]
15th September 2011 - 20:58


There's been a small number of bus companies in London giving drivers on-bike training, but it's not the norm - like lorry driver training at the moment - it's great but not typical

The best way to get 'all drivers to be cyclists' is by designing our roads so that many more people are comfortable cycling regularly, like they do in the Netherlands and Denmark

It needs smart engineering and lots of political will, but the result is better places to live... along with a healthier population

maybe here one day? [DREAMS]

posted by fluffy_mike [91 posts]
15th September 2011 - 21:01


I am pleased to say that they did reply to me but it wasn't a great deal of help.

"Thank you for your E-Mail. Are you able to provide us with the Service number of the bus to help us investigate this incident fully?"

Now i'll know for next time.... Big Grin

If that ride is important to you, you'll find a way to get it in!

road slapper's picture

posted by road slapper [95 posts]
16th September 2011 - 9:32


We're working on it! Join the only national campaign calling for cycling to be part of the driving test here

iDavid's picture

posted by iDavid [47 posts]
16th September 2011 - 23:05


My biggest problem in London is with buses, not lorries. They resent cyclists being in "their" bus lanes - I know this from listening to bus drivers when I'm travelling on the bus rather than cycling. Rarely a day goes by when I don't get cut up by a bus driver swerving in front of me to reach a bus stop. Maybe the routes on the Walworth Road / Elephant & Castle are particularly bad but surely TfL should be doing more to educate bus drivers to respect cyclists?

posted by bikematt [5 posts]
17th September 2011 - 19:57