Crossrail, one of the biggest civil engineering projects in London's history and the largest transport infrastructure project in Europe, has moved to ban any operator whose lorries are not fitted with basic safety features particularly relating to the safety of cyclists, from working for it.
Under contracts drawn up by the the Crossrail Consortium requires lorries working on the project whether from main or sub-contractorts to be fitted with side proximity sensors, Fresnel lenses and side under-run guards. In addition Crossrail has worked with Transport for London (TfL) to fit Trixi mirrors at all junctions leading in to its sites. So far 52 junctions have been equipped with such mirrors which enable drivers to check the blindspot on their lefthand side - an area of particular danger for cyclists.
In a Crossrail statement announcing the measures Andy Mitchell, Crossrail Programme Director said: “Crossrail sets high standards for lorries operating on the project and views the safety of all road users, including cyclists, as a significant priority.
“Crossrail requires all lorries working on the Crossrail project to be fitted with additional safety features to protect cyclists. HGVs that do not comply with our increased requirements will be refused entry to Crossrail worksites and turned away incurring financial cost to individual contractors. As our contractors often work on multiple construction projects, these new safety measures will help improve lorry safety across the construction industry, delivering benefits for cyclists across London.
Crossrail also confirmed that a small number of lorries had been turned away from its sites for non-compliance with the required safety features, although Crossrail does not say in its statment whether enforcement of the safety terms of their contracts has recently been stepped up or whether they have been turning non-compliant lorries away since work on the project began.
Construction is a constant factor in all major cities but in recent years London has seen almost unprecedented levels of work taking place in and around the city centre with two massive projects in particular, the Shard Tower and the Olympic Park responsible for a huge amount of extra construction traffic. Crossrail is a project that dwarfs even the Olympics and Shard in its scale and complexity - building 21.5Km of mainline railway tunnels under Central London for a new railway line running from Shenfield in Essex to Maidenhead in Berkshire. The Crossrail project started in 2010 and is due for completion in 2018 with the main tunnelling work taking place from 2011 to 2014 at it's peak there will be 50 lorry movements of waste sold a day in and out of the project's Charing Cross site alone and that is just a fraction of the spoil that needs to be moved - 85 per cent will go by rail or river.
The scale of the project has led to a particular focus on Crossrail because at its peak it will greatly add to the number of construction lorry movement in London, a vehicle type that is disproportionate responsible for a high number of road casualties, particularly of female cyclists. between 1999 and 2004 85 per cent of the women cyclists killed on London's roads died in incidents involving HGVs.
To further try and reduce the risk to cyclists and pedestrians Crossrail has embarked on a programme of driver training including cyclist awareness training for all its drivers put together in conjunction with the London Cycling Campaign, CTC and Roadpeace - so far the company says 2000 drivers have gone through the programme.
At almost the same time as the Crossrail announcement a group representing some of the UK's biggest construction firms, the UK Contractors Group announced that it was putting together a new safety strategy for its members that would include lorries a requirement for lorries entering city centres to be fitted with similar levels of safety equipment as required by Crossrail.
The move comes in response to the Times' Cities Fit For Cycling Campaign and UKCG director Stephen Ratcliffe told the newspaper We are aware of the health and safety risk [to cyclists] and this is about finding a more cohesive and collective way to manage the issue. If the same message is coming out from 30 companies rather than just one, it is far more powerful.”
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.