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Labour to make HGV safety gear compulsory if elected, attacks government on road safety

Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh addresses party's conference in Manchester...

Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh has said that Labour will make safety equipment on lorries mandatory should it win next year’s general election to encourage more people to cycle. She also criticised the current government for scrapping road safety targets and letting HGVs travel faster on single-carriageway roads.

Speaking at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester today, she promised to deliver a “big change” in the country’s transport policy, including making roads safer and giving “London-style transport powers to other areas.”

She told delegates: “We deserve to travel safely at all times but this government scrapped Labour’s road safety targets, and increased the speed limit for heavy goods vehicles on single track roads – which will lead to more deaths.”

Those proposals, which will see the speed limit raised from 40 mph to 50mph and are aimed at giving an £11 million boost to the haulage industry, were announced by the Department for Transport in July and were roundly condemned by road safety campaigners, including Brake.

At the time, the charity’s deputy chief executive, Julie Townsend, said: "We are disappointed and concerned by this announcement.

“Put simply, when vehicles travel faster, it takes them longer to stop, increasing risk,” she added. “It is very well evidenced that increases in speed equal increases in crashes and casualties.”

During her speech today, Ms Creagh said: “Labour wants walking and cycling and public transport to be attractive options.

“Long before Lycra and bike helmets, everyone use to cycle,” she went on. “I want every child to have the chance to learn to ride a bike safely, and we want to see more people commuting to work by bike, too.

“That’s why the next Labour government will ensure that all heavy goods vehicles are fitted with safety devices to protect pedestrians and cyclists,” she added, without specifying exactly what equipment would be involved.

She also reiterated about the party’s backing for the High Speed 2 rail project, saying it “will transform our country” but warned that costs needed to be kept under control.

As well as improving the capacity of the railways to take freight traffic off the roads, it is also planned for a cycle track to run alongside HS2, the initial phase of which will run from London to Birmingham.

At the party’s 2013 conference in Brighton last September, Ms Eagle, who left her post in a reshuffle the following month, promised the party would set targets to grow the level of cycling in Britain, as well as bringing back road safety targets and other initiatives including separated cycle routes and redesigned junctions.


Ms Creagh said in November last year that Labour’s 2015 manifesto would prioritise improved and safer infrastructure for cyclists.

Earlier in 2013, Labour had said it would adopt the bulk of the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group if it came back into power.

At a breakfast meeting yesterday addressed by British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman and CTC president Jon Snow, Ms Creagh reaffirmed the party's commitment to the report, although it has yet to pledge to meet the £10 per head per year spend on cycling that it calls for.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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