Transport for London (TfL) has today launched its autumn cycle safety campaign, which focuses on the dangers posed to cyclists by HGVs particularly at junctions, and has also unveiled a new lorry driver training programme which includes a cycle safety awareness module.
TfL says that despite a rise in bike journeys in the capital to around half a million trips each day and the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on the city’s streets each year falling by around a quarter during the past decade, cycle safety remains an issue of “serious concern.”
The dangers were starkly highlighted earlier this year when three cyclists, university professor David Vilaseca, student Haris Ahmed, 21 and singer Shivon Watson were killed in separate collisions with lorries within the space of a few weeks.
TfL says that approximately half of all fatal accidents to cyclists in London involve HGVs, accounting for 13 of 23 deaths since January 2009 alone.
Cyclists’ safety around HGVs is a particular concern, with around half of all cycle deaths in the Capital involving goods vehicle; since January 2009, 13 of the 23 cyclists who lost their lives on London’s roads died following collisions with lorries.
As a result, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and TfL have today launched ‘Safer London Driving’ cycle awareness training for lorry drivers, forming part of HGV drivers’ Certificate of Professional Competence.
They have also called for more operators to sign up to the Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS), and are offering 540 free place on ‘Safer London Driving’ places for members of FORS.
There will also be a widespread advertising campaign throughout London highlighting the danger to cyclists of undertaking lorries at junctions, which can put them into the vehicle’s blind spot and cause particular danger when the lorry is turning left.
Cyclists will also be urged to sign up for TfL-funded training for adult commuter cyclists, provided by individual boroughs, with details available on the Cycling section of the TfL website.
Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s transport advisor, said: “As many thousands of cycle hire members have discovered over the past three months, cycling is one of the most enjoyable ways of getting around London. But as ever more people take to two wheels it is important we do everything we can to improve cycle safety in the Capital.”
Mr Ranger continued: “We are working with freight operating companies to improve HGV safety and we are the first city in the UK to trial on-street cycle safety ‘Trixi’ mirrors. However perhaps most vital is getting safety advice to cyclists, whether new or experienced, particularly about road positioning and crucially that being in the blind spot of a large vehicle could potentially have fatal consequences.”
In July, a six-month trial started of 39 Trixi mirrors, which allow drivers of large vehicles improved visibility of cyclists at junctions, along the two pilot Cycle Superhighway routes.
TfL says that research has shown that most lorry drivers, cyclists and car/van drivers questioned during the trial agreed that the mirrors boosted the safety of cyclists, while the majority of HGV drivers surveyed said that the installation of the mirrors changed the way they negotiated junctions fitted with them.
The body has also distributed 20,000 so-called Fresnel lenses to haulage companies operating in London as well as getting in touch with some 300 companies that operate construction vehicles to ask them to install side bars and other safety features on vehicles currently exempt from having them due to existing legislation.
Through the Cycle Safety Working Group which it chairs, TfL has also encouraged initiatives such as the ‘No more lethal lorries campaign’ launched by the London Cycling Campaign and RoadPeace, and together with the mayor and the Freight Transport Association it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding that commits them “to working together to improve cycle safety in London.”
Tuning to the provision of cycle training, TfL has now provided the boroughs that fall within the Barclays Cycle Hire zone with hire bikes so that beginners or cyclists looking to brush up on their skills do not need to bring their own bikes along to training sessions, and details of these and other safety tips are available on the TfL website.
Ben Plowden, Director of Better Routes and Places at TfL, said: “As the days become colder and the nights longer we want to help keep cyclists riding throughout the winter months. Our new awareness campaign makes it clear that cycling in a lorry’s blind spot can have fatal consequences. Adult cycle training is a great way to improve confidence and to develop the skills needed to keep cycling safely and comfortably throughout the winter; I’d urge anyone who cycles or who is thinking about cycling in London to give it a go.
“We hope that the introduction of the new Safer London Driving training for lorry drivers, which increases cycle awareness, will also help to remind HGV drivers of the road issues cyclists’ face,” he continued.
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