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Lorry owners' group says targeting operators with poor safety standards prefereble...

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says that plans to ban lorries without certain safety features from London are flawed and that targeting operators with poor safety records would be preferable to a blanket approach.

As we reported yesterday, Mayor of London Boris Johnson has launched a consultation on proposals to require all lorries over 3.5 tonnes operating within the capital’s low emissions zone to be fitted with equipment including additional mirrors and sideguards.

Vehicles without such features would be excluded from the city, including some such as construction lorries, tipper trucks, waste vehicles, cement mixers or lorries registered before 2000 that do not currently have to have side guards fitted.

The FTA says however that the Safer Lorries Scheme proposed by Transport for London (TfL) is not the best way to improve the safety of cyclists in London and that other approaches could be more beneficial.

Its head of urban logistics policy, Christopher Snelling, said: “We are always concerned about new regulatory instruments being created, their compliance and enforcement costs, and how politicians might decide to change or extend these powers in the future. Safety on the roads is a complex issue and politicians often reach for the simplistic solution.”

Among concerns raised by the FTA are that some smaller vehicles would not be suitable to be fitted with additional mirrors, since it believes these would then create a hazard to pedestrians.

It also says that the proposals could impact types of traffic it claims are not typically involved in the deaths of cyclists, such as container trucks, and that TfL should instead target operators with poor safety standards that break existing laws.

Mr Snelling added: “There is no one magic solution to safety on our roads. Unless everyone involved takes intelligent action, the problem will not improve as much as we all want.”

Yesterday’s launch of the consultation was accompanied by two businesses, supermarket chain Sainsbury’s and skip lorry operator O’Donovan Waste, unveiling new lorries incorporating features designed to make them safer for cyclists sharing road space with them.

London Cycling Campaign has long lobbied for safer lorries in the capital, and yesterday its lorry danger expert, Charlie Lloyd, a former HGV driver, said: "It's brilliant that these companies are showing the way that the risk of injury to cyclists and pedestrians can be reduced.

“The proposed ‘Safer Lorries’ regulation from the Mayor is the first step in bring all transport operators up to this level. Avoidable risks still remain as current designs put the driver up in the air too far away from people on the street.”

But, he added: "Some manufacturers are working on plans to create "direct vison" drivers' cabs as suggested by LCC's Safer Urban Lorry design in 2013. The large warning sign on the back of the Sainsbury's lorry is still required as drivers of these lorries are still handicapped by inappropriate vehicle design."

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.