Road safety minister Stephen Hammond has said that he and Transport for London (TfL) Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy are establishing a working group to consider restrictions on the movement of lorries in cities – but the Freight Transport Association (FTA) says that such are measures are “impractical.”
Hammond was speaking yesterday at the launch of the Get Britain Cycling report at the House of Commons, just a few hundred yards from where Dr Katharine Giles was killed by a left-turning lorry as she rode to work during a Monday morning rush hour earlier this month.
Reflecting on her death, and those of other cyclists killed by lorries, the minister told an audience including MPs and members of the House of Lords, “this cannot continue.”
One of the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report is to "Improve HGV safety by vehicle design, driver training, and mutual awareness with cyclists; promote rail freight and limit use of HGVs on the busiest urban streets at the busiest times, and use public sector projects to drive fleet improvements."
However, the FTA, while welcoming the report in general and saying that it supports efforts to increase levels of cycling – something it acknowledges would get cars off the road, thus making it easier for goods vehicles to get around – has rejected the idea that restrictions should be placed on lorries at busy times.
"Aside from all the health benefits, cycling is an efficient use of road space,” said Christopher Snelling, FTA's Head of Urban Logistics Policy. “If more car journeys were done by bike that would free up more space for those who have no alternative, such as freight."
Turning to the issue of potentially restricting times when lorries can operate, which organisations including British Cycling and the London Cycling Campaign called for in the wake of Dr Giles’s death, he insisted: "These routes are busy for a reason – they are the economic lifeblood of our urban areas.
“To prevent lorries using them would add to the difficulty and cost of running shops, offices and other businesses in our towns and cities.
“Just because a route is busy does not automatically mean it is dangerous. It is strange to be talking about introducing restrictions when it is public regulations that currently prevent lorries making deliveries at night, forcing deliveries into the first part of the day just when the most cyclists are on the road.
“If these deliveries don’t happen when customers need them, businesses will close and cities will suffer."
The FTA maintains that factors such as redesigning junctions and greater investment in cycling infrastructure, plus permitting lorries to make deliveries at night, are where efforts must be focused to improve safety.
"The key factor in improving safety on our roads is about road user behaviour,” Snelling continued. ”Drivers and cyclists both have their part to play and the recommendations in the report for more training and better awareness on both sides are supported.
“The industry looks forward to continuing its work with cyclists to make our roads safer places for everyone," he concluded.
Within London, where lorries make up around 5 per cent of traffic but are involved in half of cyclist deaths, LCC has been urging residents of the capital to contact their local councils to ensure they sign up to its Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling pledge.
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