London's cyclists are invited to a Changing Places session next week to see what the view is like from an HGV cab - offering an unparalleled insight into what a driver can and can't see on the road.
On Wednesday 16 October from 12 noon to 6 pm at West Poultry Lane near Smithfield Market the City of London Police and Crossrail will be running the drop in event
Cyclists will be encouraged to sit in the driver’s seat of a lorry where a police officer will brief the visitor of the dangers when cycling nearby a lorry and the blind spots.
There will also be free bike safety checks, free bike security registration and free refreshments.
For more information on this and subsequent sessions click here.
Crossrail will take several years to build and, during construction, London is subject to a higher than usual number of tipper truck journeys during peak hours.
Crossrail has gone to some lengths to mitigate the effect, with measures including:
Contracts drawn up by the the Crossrail Consortium require lorries working on the project whether from main or sub-contractorts to be fitted with side proximity sensors, Fresnel lenses and side under-run guards. In addition Crossrail has worked with Transport for London (TfL) to fit Trixi mirrors at all junctions leading in to its sites.
So far 52 junctions have been equipped with such mirrors which enable drivers to check the blindspot on their lefthand side - an area of particular danger for cyclists.
In a Crossrail statement announcing the measures Andy Mitchell, Crossrail Programme Director said: “Crossrail sets high standards for lorries operating on the project and views the safety of all road users, including cyclists, as a significant priority.
“Crossrail requires all lorries working on the Crossrail project to be fitted with additional safety features to protect cyclists. HGVs that do not comply with our increased requirements will be refused entry to Crossrail worksites and turned away incurring financial cost to individual contractors.
"As our contractors often work on multiple construction projects, these new safety measures will help improve lorry safety across the construction industry, delivering benefits for cyclists across London."
Crossrail also confirmed that a small number of lorries had been turned away from its sites for non-compliance with the required safety features, although Crossrail does not say in its statment whether enforcement of the safety terms of their contracts has recently been stepped up or whether they have been turning non-compliant lorries away since work on the project began.
Sarah Barth (pictured) has been to a Changing Places session run by Downton Haulage. She writes:
The opportunity to sit in the cab of an HGV is one of the most significant things I've done to improve my safety on the streets of London.
The cab is filled with mirrors, so it is possible to see the sides of the lorries from most angles, but it's not always easy.
A cyclist is just about visible coming up on the left -- but the improvement once you add a high-viz jacket is astonishing. If you've any sense though, you'd ride up the right, or go nowhere near.
There clearly are blind spots, and these are different on different vehicles, so you come away with the impression that the safest place to be is well out of the way.
And the safety features only work if the driver is using them - one can only imagine the dangers posed by a tired or distracted driver.