Mysterious truck makes effective cycle safety training tool

Architects, lorries, Lawrence Dallaglio - what's it all about then?

by Sarah Barth   July 20, 2012  

McGee truck

We recently reported on the competition to design a warning sign for cyclists to be fitted to HGVs, then on our travels we spotted this attention grabbing graphic on a tipper lorry owned by the McGee Construction firm.

Given the fearsome reputation of tipper trucks you could be forgiven for fleetingly wondering if it is some sort of macabre kill tally, a la fighter pilots of the second World War. It isn't. We got in touch with McGee Group, who own the truck, and they told us the story behind it.

"Studio AR designed the tipper wrap – it represents danger zones for cyclists around these vehicles – green to red," said Lisa Page, a spokeswoman for the company.

"We are sending a 13-tonne tipper truck on a tour of the UK’s Olympic cities to demonstrate how to cycle safely around heavy goods vehicles, with stop offs at architecture practices and key landmarks.

"Each one-on-one lesson delivered during the tour involves the cyclists exchanging places with the driver of a stationary tipper truck while a specialist trainer explains all the safety equipment and points out where the blind spots are."

Here's a video featuring world famous architect Richard Rogers and London Festival of Architecture founder Peter Murray, on their travels around London explaining why they're involved with the campaign.

 

Lawrence Dallaglio, who recently returned from the Dallaglio Flintoff 2012 Cycle Slam, cycling from Olympia to the Olympic Park over five weeks, has also got behind the campaign.

He said: "I am well aware of the risks posed to cyclists on the roads.

"It is good to see the construction sector taking a lead on this issue. Well done to McGee Group and Building Design for helping to build mutual respect between cyclists and truck drivers.

"It really is a two way thing - cyclists have to be more intelligent where they put themselves around trucks and drivers more considerate of cyclists.”

Michael McGee, McGee Group Director said: “Safety is of the highest importance to McGee Group and we do all we can to ensure the public are protected on and around the construction projects we deliver.

“We are focused on raising awareness of the risks posed to cyclists from construction vehicles, and this is why we partnered with Building Design to ask cyclists around the UK to exchange places with our drivers in a specially designed tipper truck by Studio AR.

“As a cyclist myself I know how important it is for cyclists to see for themselves how they can stay safe around heavy goods vehicles, and to also learn about all the safety features we fit on our tipper trucks to additionally help them.

“McGee Group tipper trucks are fitted with six mirrors, a blind spot detection kit with five sensors and an alert buzzer in the cab, vehicle turning audible warning equipment, four cameras, side under-run guards with reflective strips, cyclist warning signs, high visibility markings, flashing lights and a reversing beeper.”

We think it's a great initiative, and would like to see it rolled out in more than just the Olympic cities. But even just the sight of it (once you understand it) gives a new perspective to urban cyclists on what lorry drivers can - and can't - see.

13 user comments

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Is it me or is there something extremely complacent about the idea of educating other road users in the location of tipper trucks' blind spots?

Any vehicle which needs to be manoeuvred in urban settings should have good all-round visibility to assist the driver and protect other road users.

That said, HGVs represent the biggest danger to cyclists and more should be done to separate them. By that I mean making quieter roads more attractive to cyclists by improving permeability and making routes flow, whilst restricting HGVs to main roads and discouraging them from taking GPS short cuts.

posted by Campag_10 [153 posts]
20th July 2012 - 9:09

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I hired a transit van to move my stuff to my new flat, and couldn't believe the sheer size of the blind spot on the left side. I pulled up to a junction where the traffic flowed left to right (one way only) and the side road (where I was) was angled towards the right as well. Couldn't see a damn thing of the approaching traffic. I literally had to climb over to the passenger seat to see if it was clear, then climb back over, get it in gear and get away ASAP and just bloody hope that nothing had come along in the meantime. Stay clear people, because if they don't have all the kit that these McGee trucks have, the drivers are on blind faith half the time.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
20th July 2012 - 9:26

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Campag_10 wrote:
Is it me or is there something extremely complacent about the idea of educating other road users in the location of tipper trucks' blind spots?

Any vehicle which needs to be manoeuvred in urban settings should have good all-round visibility to assist the driver and protect other road users.

That said, HGVs represent the biggest danger to cyclists and more should be done to separate them. By that I mean making quieter roads more attractive to cyclists by improving permeability and making routes flow, whilst restricting HGVs to main roads and discouraging them from taking GPS short cuts.

Until the two are separated there really is no choice other than defensive riding and education.

In an ideal world we wouldn't have to share, the vehicles would have port-windows on doors and traffic lights some separate phases.

Equally in an ideal world this information STILL isnt being projected enough. It is that important, but where are the TV campaigns? Why aren't the DFT commissioning videos on safe riding?

It really does say how undervalued cycling is in society still

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posted by downfader [184 posts]
20th July 2012 - 9:39

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I've spent enough time in HGV cabs to be aware of the visibility problems they have and it sounds as if McGee have done the Right Thing in terms of equipping their fleet with all the gadgets they can.

That said, I'm generally pretty unimpressed by these "sit in a truck and experience the lack of visibility" exercises - if you know the vehicle's unsafe, FIX THE BLOODY THING.

posted by steff [81 posts]
20th July 2012 - 10:10

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One of the most obvious solutions is to reduce the risk buy removing the hazard. We have major demolition and rebuilding of sites at Elephant & Castle in planning, which will require at least 400,000 Tons of rubble and muckshift away from the site. One part is 200 metres from the 4-track railway viaduct another immediately abuts the railway station, and both are less than 1 Km from the River Thames, where there is a container handling facility and wharf for loading barges (a 500T barge was being loaded the other day and barges of up to 2000T capacity can get up to Battersea - I saw a tug with 1500T coming downstream later on at Westminster bridge) Yet for a site at St Pancras over 40 of the most damaging and dangerous trucks were making around 140 trips a day for over 60 days to shift around 300,000 Tons all the way by road through congested streets and out to Pitsea, whilst less than 0.5Km from access to a rail siding or site for one, where trains carrying up to 1500 Tons could have been loaded.

That 5000T/day muckshift with direct costs in haulage alone in the region of £14,000/day and indirect costs in emissions & roads damage, could have saved a lot of people money as well as being safer. Another site is also going at the same time (Francis Crick & King's Cross Central) both still sending out waste and soon likely to be demanding concrete and incoming materials, both with the potential for rail delivery practically to the doorstep, but since TfL closed down their Freight Unit, there is no (Freight) TfL delivery.

As an example of the sheer level of avoidable raised risk, the foundations of the Shard required 30 big concrete trucks operated round 24 hour shifts with 3 drivers for several days - when a siding and silo set up on the rail viaduct nearby (the South side of London Bridge has had tracks taken away, so this could have been used to deliver bulk materials, and concrete directly pumped - removing all the trucks from the road.

So lets make a big push for consolidation of the spoil. By contrast the excavated millions of tons from Crossrail is largely going quietly away by rail and barge. One tunnel site is sending the spoil out from Park Royal, and around to Canning Town where it heads for transfer to barges to go downstream. Take a look at www.cboa.org.uk to see just what can be done

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [429 posts]
20th July 2012 - 11:26

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PS that is a 32T truck in the picture - a 13T has a smaller and lower cab and is a relative tiddler.

In the 1950's truck drivers did not sit enthroned above other road users, and could look directly eye to eye with pedestrians and cyclists plus of course suffer the consequences of a rear end shunt (every year a few car-loads of people are wiped out when a truck goes over the car , and the truck driver can walk away). There is no real need to have high level cabs on many types of truck - the 8 wheelers have a huge space underneath the tipper body.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [429 posts]
20th July 2012 - 11:34

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Nice idea.

So how does it stop the truck driver/bus driver or 4x4 yummy mummy having the mentality of "I'm bigger then you, get out of my way!"????

Vehicles and roads are not dangerous, it's the idiot behind the wheel that is!

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [208 posts]
20th July 2012 - 13:35

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I'd love to know where people think you could position the cab on a vehicle like that so as that it wouldn't have any blind spots.... Sure, fit a bunch of mirrors and cameras all over the truck, but the driver can only look at one or two at a time!

Common sense to me says, be bloody careful how you ride around lorries, and I'm still here Plain Face

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posted by Municipal Waste [190 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 18:12

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Municipal Waste wrote:
I'd love to know where people think you could position the cab on a vehicle like that so as that it wouldn't have any blind spots.... Sure, fit a bunch of mirrors and cameras all over the truck, but the driver can only look at one or two at a time!

Common sense to me says, be bloody careful how you ride around lorries, and I'm still here Plain Face

Whilst true, AV raised a good point earlier - they have the river nearby, why is that not being used more?

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posted by downfader [184 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 18:52

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Depends which haulage company paid the biggest bribe? Thinking

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posted by Municipal Waste [190 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 19:21

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Well that's a really cool idea. I would very much like to see it in person if possible Who would've thought that a truck (a bicycles worst enemy, in my opinion) equipped with unique truck parts can possibly enforce a more bicycle-friendly society.

posted by GlintingClaw [1 posts]
17th September 2012 - 2:39

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I reckon a two pronged approach to tackling the issue of dangerous lorries would be the best bet: A combination of fully segregated cycling and pedestrian infrastructure to eliminate conflicts, as well as safer designs for all lorries that are required to operate in urban areas (like the LCC's design http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2013/mar/20/cycle-safe-... )

posted by aSolihullCyclist [4 posts]
11th September 2013 - 9:03

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McGee should be applauded for their actions here as they are clearly making an effort, within the contrains of what they do and the vehicles available to them, to improve things.

However the bigger issue is the overuse of such vehicles and the reluctance to use rail and water for heavy freight. As pointed out by somebody far more expert than me it can be done.

posted by Matt eaton [222 posts]
11th September 2013 - 9:42

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