Just two of London's 33 councils has made a full commitment to make lorries, whether the council's own or operated by contractors and sub-contractors it does business with, safer for cyclists to interact with, according to the London Cycling Campaign.
LCC says that while Islington and Waltham Forest councils have committed to the highest standards of lorry safety for all vehicles concerned - City of London Corporation has told road.cc it adheres to those standards on its own vehicles - none of the remaining ones have signed up to all the stipulations in its Safer Lorries Pledge, which reads:
"We'll work to improve the safety of every Londoner by only signing new contracts with the safest haulage companies, which conform to the London Cycling Campaign’s Safer Lorries conditions. We also pledge to ensure our council-operated services meet the same standards."
This is despite half of all cyclist deaths in the capital involving lorries, as well as a significant number of pedestrian and motorcyclist deaths.
The LCC has been lobbying council leaders to sign up to the pledge, accompanied by the voices of more than 2,000 London cyclists who've added their voices to the campaign using an online letter-writing tool.
Ten councils have done almost nothing to protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users from lorry danger.
20 other councils, despite taking some steps towards improving lorry safety, have failed to match the Safer Lorries pledge.
But Barking & Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Croydon, Greenwich, Kingston, Merton, Richmond Upon Thames, Tower Hamlets and Wandsworth have done almost nothing to improve the safety of cyclists around lorries.
LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha said, “Our councils have a duty to only use the safest lorries and best-trained drivers. The inaction of the 10 worst councils stands in sharp contrast to the great work on lorry safety being done by the best councils and other major lorry transport users such as Transport for London.”
Islington council leader Catherine West said, “Working to give lorry drivers the right training and equipment is one way we can make London’s roads safer.”
Waltham Forest council environment portfolio holder Clyde Loakes said, “Waltham Forest has strong ambitions to not just to reduce road danger, but to enable many more residents of all ages to cycle and walk more often and, crucially, more safely.”
You can add your voice to the campaign by using the council leader letter-writing tool here.
The Safer Lorries pledge will ensure all lorries have:
- A close-proximity warning system (visual or audible) to make the driver aware of cyclists and pedestrians who might hidden from view. This can include an appropriate CCTV camera or Fresnel lens where this provides an adequate alternative.
- A Class VI mirror, sideguards, and prominent signage on the rear of the lorry warning cyclists not to undertake.
- An external warning device to ensure nearby road users are aware of a planned manoeuvre.
- The haulier will be a member of a reputable best-practice safety organisation, FORS or equivalent.
The Safer Lorries pledge will ensure all drivers have:
- A driving licence check with the DVLA (before starting on a contract), with their licence being rechecked regularly.
- taken the Approved Driver Training within 60 days of the contract starting, unless they’ve had this training within three years. The training must include TfL’s Safe Urban Driving course, with on-bike hazard-awareness training.
- passed a FORS e-learning Work-Related Road Safety module (or an approved equivalent) at least every 12 months.
There have been some small victories; in October, Transport for London (TfL) and the Greater London Assembly (GLA) implemented tougher conditions on companies they contract with regarding lorries and driver training.
The move followed sustained pressure from the LCC, which included a petition with more than 10,000 signatures.
New contractual terms imposed on suppliers by TfL and the GLA in an agreement named ‘Contract of Service (Generic)’ include a definition of ‘Approved Driver Training,’ which all drivers employed by the contractor must undergo if they have not done so within the previous three years.
The training must follow TfL’s TfL’s ‘Safe Urban Driving' module, which includes drivers taking to London’s streets on a bicycle. Drivers also have to complete a ‘Work Related Road Saftey Module’ or similar training every year.
Besides training, the new contractual conditions also cover issues such as driver checks, safety features that must be fitted such as class six safety mirrors, sideguards and cameras and sensors, plus a requirement to join the Fleet Operators Registration Scheme (FORS) and achieve bronze standard under it.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.