The campaign group Cycling UK has endorsed the London Mayor’s announcement that he will “ensure the most dangerous zero star-rated lorries are removed from our roads”.
Sadiq Khan has pledged that the most dangerous HGVs will not be allowed in the capital by the year 2020, using a ‘star rating’ from 0 to 5 stars to rate construction and other heavy goods vehicles based on the level of vision the driver has directly from the cab.
Transport for London’s (TfL) Direct Vision Standard is a world first, developed in response to the fact that despite making up only 4% of London traffic, lorries are disproportionally involved in London cyclists’ deaths.
Between January 2008 and July 2015, 56 of the 99 cyclists killed in London were involved in incidents with lorries.
Cycling UK responded to TfL consultation ‘Further improving lorry safety in London’, in February 2016 and called for TfL and all 33 London boroughs to express a preference towards direct vision lorries in all future bids for planning applications and publicly-funded contracts.
Furthermore, Cycling UK urged TfL to adopt a road map for the widespread introduction of direct vision lorries which would make their use a contractual requirement by 2020 for TfL and the boroughs, with a commitment to ban lorries which do not meet direct vision standards from London roads by 2025.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Senior Road Safety and Legal Campaigns Officer said: “Cycling UK is delighted that the Mayor is committed to introducing a road map that will see unsafe lorries off our roads, and safer direct vision lorries the norm. We would now urge TfL and the 33 London boroughs to make safer lorries a contractual preference for all future bids to hasten their uptake.
“Cycling UK called for this back in February through our ‘Safer Lorries’ campaign, and we see today’s announcement as a first step towards removing all unsafe lorries from our roads. We sincerely hope London’s innovative solution to the lorry problem will catch on, and rapidly spread throughout the whole country.”
The TfL website states: “Understanding how much HGV drivers can see from their cab is essential in reducing the risk of collisions. Greater awareness of an HGV driver's direct vision will also lead to an increase in the demand and supply of safer vehicles.
“At TfL, we will work with vehicle manufacturers and invite all HGVs to be modelled and rated against the Direct Vision Standard. This work will help operators and their clients to make informed choices when buying HGVs.”
Earlier this year we reported how a north London waste disposal firm has bought three trucks offering drivers the kind of panoramic view recommended by cycling campaigners.
O’Donovan’s Mercedes Econic vehicles are thought to be the first of their kind used in Britain.
So-called ‘direct vision cabs’ increase the driver’s field of view in front and to the sides of a lorry.
As well as offering a panoramic view, the cube-shaped cabs also feature full-length glass doors to help minimise blind spots.
There are several versions of the £100,000 Econic with O’Donovans to make use of the skip lorry.
Jacqueline O’Donovan, the firm’s managing director, said: “We want to ensure our drivers have the best training and safest vehicles. The Mercedes cabs really are safer.”
O’Donovan also requested a range of additional safety features, including a side scan system, side under run protection, left hand turn audible alarm and conspicuity markings.
Last September London implemented the Safer Lorries Scheme which demands that all HGVs operating in the capital must be fitted with certain safety equipment, including sideguards and improved mirrors. Nevertheless, most campaigners would like to see further improvements.
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.