The introduction of safer lorries to Britain’s streets is being blocked by governments acting under pressure from their domestic vehicle manufacturers, and the ringleader is a nation traditionally thought of as cycle-friendly: France.
According to Matthew Beard of the Evening Standard, France, Sweden and Italy have been pressured by Renault, Skania and Iveco to block the introduction of new rules for HGVs. The measures would make them much safer for vulnerable road users by improving vision from the cab and reducing the severity of impacts.
The new design rules were voted in last month by MEPs, though a significant number of British MEPs voted against. UKIP MEPs in particular voted in accordance with party policy of voting against all European regulatory measures regardless of how many children’s lives they might save.
Campaigners say the measure would save 1,000 cyclists lives per year, but under pressure from vehicle manufacturers the reforms may take a decade to implement. A draft paper from the European Council seen by the Standard says the new regs “shall start to apply only  years after” the three years EU member states are allowed to incorporate the rules into national laws, taking the total delay to 2025.
As originally drawn up, the plans would have allowed manufacturers to gradually introduce new safety features from 2018, with the full set of new design rules becoming mandatory for all new lorries in 2022.
William Todts of sustainable transport group Transport & Environment said: “That the French are trying to shield industry laggards from innovation and competition is hardly surprising. That the UK is doing nothing to stop them is indefensible, especially given the situation for London’s cyclists and pedestrians. If the British Government is serious about preventing road deaths, it needs to get its act together.”
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.