Cycling UK urges Airbus UK to rethink helmet and hi-viz policy

Meanwhile, road.cc learns that staff from other companies at Filton site have been banned from cycling there altogether

Cycling UK have urged Airbus UK to rethink their new policy of requiring people cycling at their two major UK sites, Filton in Bristol and Broughton in North Wales, to wear helmets and reflective gear.

As we reported here on road.cc at the weekend, the new rules, which came into effect yesterday, were communicated to workers at the two sites in a memo last month.

> Airbus UK employees must wear high-viz and helmets to cycle on site

Meanwhile, road.cc has learnt that Airbus UK is also preventing staff at other companies operating on the Filton site from cycling or driving across it.

Responding to the story we published on Sunday, Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, said: “If Airbus are serious about promoting sustainable forms of transport to and from their sites, and health and safety upon them, they should look to tackle the source of the danger rather than mandating protective equipment for anyone wanting to cycle to work.

“Any workplace environment where drivers have to be helped to see people on bikes is one facing on-site health and safety problems which can’t possibly be addressed by compulsory cycle helmets and reflective clothing.”

In the past, the charity has offered to work with workplaces, schools and other locations that have tried to impose rules on cyclists that go beyond those set out in the Highway Code, and Dollimore extended the same assistance to Airbus UK.

“Threatening to ban people from cycling to work is never a good look,” he said, “but if Airbus want to re-think their approach and look to promote active travel, we’d be delighted to speak to them about our cycling friendly employer accreditation scheme.”

The aerospace company employs around 6,500 people at Broughton and 4,500 at Filton, and an employee of another company at the latter site, who wished to remain anonymous,

“Additional to what you have reported, all staff working at the BAE Systems and MBDA buildings in Filton, including cyclists and commuters in cars, had access to the Airbus site,” he told us.

“Commuting through the site can cut a good corner off of the Filton Road and avoid Filton roundabout. It’s great for cyclists as there are no cycle routes and the traffic is always busy.

“This morning [ie Monday], all BAE Systems and MBDA staff including cyclists had their passes removed without warning and were turned away from the Airbus site, denied entry.”

Referring to our story, he said: “So Airbus may say this is for safety of cyclists. But it would seem it is only for those employed by Airbus.

“Other cyclists previously using the route through as its much safer will now have to contend with the busy Filton Road and roundabout.

“No reason has been given by Airbus that we know of currently,” he added. “And none was given upon query at the barrier when denied access.”

In the memo sent to workers at the two sites last month by Airbus UK, it said: “In the interest of the safety of all our employees on site, we continuously review our procedures to ensure we can provide the best and safest environment. This includes traffic safety and, in addition to the on-going safety related infrastructure improvements you will see at both sites, we have decided that safety equipment for cyclists becomes a mandatory requirement.

“From Monday March 9th, 2020, all cyclists who wish to access and cycle in Broughton and Filton sites must be wearing reflective vests or jackets and safety helmets. If they are not, they will not be allowed to cycle on site.

“It is the responsibility of the cyclist wishing to enter the sites to equip themselves with this essential safety equipment along with white front lights and red rear lights for cycling in the dark if required.”

The memo continued: “These new clothing requirements complement the PeopleSafety@Work primary rule to drive safely on site and strengthen Highway Code guidance which states cyclists should:

- wear a helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened;

- Light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light;

- Reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt arm or ankle bands) in the dark.

“Airbus in the UK’s Site Traffic and Parking Policy is in the process of being updated to reflect the mandatory rules which have been introduced by the site leadership teams, fully supported by the Trade Unions (TU), to reinforce the priority to keep people safe.”

The operative word in that extract from the Highway Code, however, is that cyclists are advised they “should” use such equipment; it isn’t a legal requirement to do so, which would have been conveyed by use of the word “must” instead.

Cycling UK have urged Airbus UK to rethink their new policy of requiring people cycling at their two major UK sites, Filton in Bristol and Broughton in North Wales, to wear helmets and reflective gear.

As we reported here on road.cc at the weekend, the new rules, which came into effect yesterday, were communicated to workers at the two sites in a memo last month.

> Airbus UK employees must wear high-viz and helmets to cycle on site

https://road.cc/content/news/271813-airbus-uk-employees-must-wear-high-v...

Meanwhile, road.cc has learnt that Airbus UK is also preventing staff at other companies operating on the Filton site from cycling or driving across it.

Responding to the story we published on Sunday, Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, said: “If Airbus are serious about promoting sustainable forms of transport to and from their sites, and health and safety upon them, they should look to tackle the source of the danger rather than mandating protective equipment for anyone wanting to cycle to work.

“Any workplace environment where drivers have to be helped to see people on bikes is one facing on-site health and safety problems which can’t possibly be addressed by compulsory cycle helmets and reflective clothing.”

In the past, the charity has offered to work with workplaces, schools and other locations that have tried to impose rules on cyclists that go beyond those set out in the Highway Code, and Dollimore extended the same assistance to Airbus UK.

“Threatening to ban people from cycling to work is never a good look,” he said, “but if Airbus want to re-think their approach and look to promote active travel, we’d be delighted to speak to them about our cycling friendly employer accreditation scheme.”

The aerospace company employs around 6,500 people at Broughton and 4,500 at Filton, and an employee of another company at the latter site, who wished to remain anonymous,

“Additional to what you have reported, all staff working at the BAE Systems and MBDA buildings in Filton, including cyclists and commuters in cars, had access to the Airbus site,” he told us.

“Commuting through the site can cut a good corner off of the Filton Road and avoid Filton roundabout. It’s great for cyclists as there are no cycle routes and the traffic is always busy.

“This morning [ie Monday], all BAE Systems and MBDA staff including cyclists had their passes removed without warning and were turned away from the Airbus site, denied entry.”

Referring to our story, he said: “So Airbus may say this is for safety of cyclists. But it would seem it is only for those employed by Airbus.

“Other cyclists previously using the route through as its much safer will now have to contend with the busy Filton Road and roundabout.

“No reason has been given by Airbus that we know of currently,” he added. “And none was given upon query at the barrier when denied access.”

In the memo sent to workers at the two sites last month by Airbus UK, it said: “In the interest of the safety of all our employees on site, we continuously review our procedures to ensure we can provide the best and safest environment. This includes traffic safety and, in addition to the on-going safety related infrastructure improvements you will see at both sites, we have decided that safety equipment for cyclists becomes a mandatory requirement.

“From Monday March 9th, 2020, all cyclists who wish to access and cycle in Broughton and Filton sites must be wearing reflective vests or jackets and safety helmets. If they are not, they will not be allowed to cycle on site.

“It is the responsibility of the cyclist wishing to enter the sites to equip themselves with this essential safety equipment along with white front lights and red rear lights for cycling in the dark if required.”

The memo continued: “These new clothing requirements complement the PeopleSafety@Work primary rule to drive safely on site and strengthen Highway Code guidance which states cyclists should:

- wear a helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened;

- Light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light;

- Reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt arm or ankle bands) in the dark.

“Airbus in the UK’s Site Traffic and Parking Policy is in the process of being updated to reflect the mandatory rules which have been introduced by the site leadership teams, fully supported by the Trade Unions (TU), to reinforce the priority to keep people safe.”

The operative word in that extract from the Highway Code, however, is that cyclists are advised they “should” use such equipment; it isn’t a legal requirement to do so, which would have been conveyed by use of the word “must” instead.

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.

Latest Comments