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Construction safety laws should protect cyclists - TfL

London’s top transport boss Sir Peter Hendy has urged the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to use its weight to protect cyclists from fatal collisions with construction traffic.

Speaking to NCE, Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Hendy declared himself a champion for cycle safety and said the HSE should follow the example set by TfL and others.


“We want the HSE to take serious notice of this. It is in contradiction of its remit to do otherwise”

Peter Hendy, TfL

“There is a whole range of actions we are now taking forward. Other organisations and companies are doing similar, but we really need the HSE to take this up,” he said.

“We have seen from results of the Executive’s CDM [Construction Design & Management] initiative that emphasis on the health and safety of individual workers on sites has made a massive difference.”

“The same could be done for cyclists on the roads with appropriate amendment to the CDM regulations,” Hendy added.

The capital’s Mayor’s Vision for Cycle Safety strategy document, produced by the London Mayor’s Office and TfL, contains a 19-point list of actions for cycle safety. The plan refers to a study carried out by transport research body TRL, which found that, of 16 cyclists killed in London in 2011, nine were hit by HGVs, of which seven were delivering to construction sites.

The study highlights the fact that, given that the construction industry is responsible for only a small proportion of freight traffic across the UK and London, a disproportionate number of cyclists’ deaths in the capital involve construction vehicles.

The study recommends that the HSE should extend reporting under the Reporting of injuries, diseases & dangerous occurences regulations to include road collisions as a “matter of urgency”. TRL also said off-site safety should be included in the Construction Phase Plan of the CDM regulations.

Hendy has since written to vehicle manufacturers, developers and contractors, as well as the HSE and the Department for Transport.

“Nobody has pushed back against what we want to see happening ,” said Hendy. “Everyone has a role to play.”

The response from the HSE has been lukewarm so far.

It told NCE that enforcing road traffic legislation was outside the HSE’s remit but said it had met with TfL about its research and was “discussing with the industry how standards, in relation to construction-related logistics, could be improved”.

“The HSE seems to have a resource issue, but it cannot ignore the fact that a large proportion of HGVs, particularly construction vehicles, are involved in collisions with cyclists,” said Hendy.

“We want the HSE to take serious notice of this; it is in contradiction of its remit to do otherwise. It is essential that the construction industry takes this seriously.”

Vehicle design for all round visibility is an important part of the equation, a point that Hendy, holder of a passenger carrying vehicles licence and owner of a double decker Routemaster bus, is very aware of.

More response is also needed from the government, Hendy said. “The Secretary of State [Patrick McLoughlin] has said he is interested in better cycle safety, but it is clear that minimum standards for vehicles are too low,” he said.

Danger on the roads

The number of cyclists injured on London’s roads grew by around 50% from 2002 to 2011, according to Transport for London statistics. It says that the number of cyclists injured in Greater London grew from just above 3,000 in 2002 to around 4,500 in 2011.

Injuries in inner London grew from around 1,900 to 3,000 in the same period. Those in Outer London grew from around 1,200 to 1,500.

Some 10% of adults in London cycled at least once a month in 2011/12. This was 1% down on the previous year, bringing the percentage of adults cycling in London to the same number as the rest of the country (see p8).

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