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."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.