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Letters: Cyclists safety is two-way street

In all the articles and correspondence regarding the recent proliferation of cyclist deaths and the involvement of construction traffic, I am surprised at the total lack of mention of the part that implementation of the Police Road Death Investigation Manual (RDIM) could, or should, play.

Under the terms of RDIM, any death on the road, be it pedestrian, cyclist or other, is initially regarded as an unlawful killing and is to be investigated by the police in the same way as any scene of murder or manslaughter.

The Metropolitan Police had previously declared with the launch of the second issue of RDIM that any fatality which involved a driver undertaking duties in the course of his work would result in his employer being asked to give evidence that the driver’s competence and actions were managed under a properly constituted driver or fleet risk management policy.

If this evidence was unsubstantial or not forthcoming then the Met would consider charging the company with either corporate or gross negligence manslaughter or even a combination of both depending on the circumstances of the fatal collision.

I would have thought that the full implementation of RDIM would give ample opportunity to redress the number of problems that have surfaced due to the recent cycle fatalities without recourse to extending CDM or RIDDOR. It has to be queried whether implementation of RDIM has been forceful enough or is this just another case of lack of resources due to cutbacks?

  • Lance Fogg (M), director, Arena Associates, Mere House, 55, Mere Road, Blackpool, Lancashire FY3 9AU

It was good to read last week that NCE wants to explore, debate and discuss the topic of construction vehicle danger further.

Would it not be sensible for the ICE to fully adopt the SeeMeSaveMe manifesto thereby putting the money where their mouth is and work with Kate Cairns and RoadPeace?

I’d like to point out again, that it is important to carry out a holistic risk assessment on the road environment, and not just resort to equipment and kit. In many circumstances it is only space separation that will keep cyclists safe. Space we have to allow and provide at the expense of motor traffic, just as the Get Britain Cycling report delivered to parliament last week recommended. A reply from the prime minister, other than an acknowledgement, however, is as yet outstanding.

  • Katja Leyendecker, Newcastle Cycling Campaign, leyendecker.katja@gmail.com

 

While I fully support proposals for all HGVs to be fitted with cycle safety equipment (NCE 18 April) - many companies are already instituting additional training for their drivers and installing the necessary equipment to their fleets - it must be matched by increased attention to road safety rules by the cyclists themselves.

Walking through London on a daily basis, I see cyclists regularly flouting rules, including running red traffic lights and listening to music through headphones.

It is essential that cyclists and pedestrians are fully conscious and attentive of the traffic around them.

Until road traffic and cycle lanes can be separated - surely a long term aim for city centres - all road users must enhance awareness and technical improvements.

  • David Norman, Sir Robert McAlpine, London SE Regional Office, Yorkshire House, Grosvenor Crescent, London SW1X 7EP

I was somewhat surprised that there was no mention in your articles on cycles deaths from construction traffic of what cyclists should be doing to safeguard themselves from injury.

While changes to the Construction and Use Regulations to ensure adequate wing mirrors would be useful, as would some form of side guard, cyclists should also be required to have and use high visibility clothing, reflectors and lights on their cycles.

Cyclists

High pressure: More cyclists on our cities roads have highlighted the safety debate

They should also be counselled against riding up the nearside of vehicles.

Another item not mentioned was the absence of signs warning drivers of construction site entrances with the attendant turning traffic.

Safety on roads can only be achieved if all road users take care and think of others. Perhaps we can add to the three Es of Road Safety by also using three Cs - care, consideration and clothing.

  • GN Cheek, grahame@cheek.plus.com

 

Back in 1986 I stopped cycling to work after seeing one man killed and another seriously injured by lorries.

At the inquest I testified that the man was in the blind spot alongside the lorry, and that he had tried to bang on the door as the lorry turned left over him.

I am not quite sure how the provision of mirrors that cover the blind spots around lorries is an optional matter; modern coaches and buses have them.

Surely we don’t think we as an industry prefer a freedom to kill?

  • Michael Dommett, 119 Victoria Road, Alton, Hampshire GU34 2DD

 

Capturing the £100bn prize

I read with interest the letter from Brian Bromwich (NCE 28 March), recognising his position that if Chinese engineers meet the stringent criteria of UK projects, they should not be excluded.

UK steelwork contractors are among the best in the world. If the UK’s major infrastructure projects were to require steelwork that meets the high Register of Qualified Steelwork Contractor standards that British Constructional Steelwork Association members deliver, then we could be sure that our bridges really will be delivered to the standards of quality, health and safety, and sustainability that the UK expects.

The National Infrastructure Plan could be worth £100bn to the UK economy. But these benefits will only be realised if UK-based engineering and construction businesses have the opportunity to compete on an equal footing with international competitors.

If the right procurement guidelines aren’t in place, there is a danger that this won’t happen.

This is a concern that reaches far wider than structural steelwork.

Sarah McCann Bartlett, British Constructional Steelwork Association (BCSA), sarah.mccannbartlett@steelconstruction.org

 

Making sense of UK’s rail plans

Even with the new design it is clear there will be years more disruption for travellers using Euston. Passengers from places such as Watford, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Rugby suffered years of blockades and delays in the last West Coast Main Line (WCML) upgrade and ended up worse off than before.

The obsession with long distance, nonstop trains means that again those from Birmingham and Manchester will benefit and shorter distance passengers will lose out.

High Speed 2 (HS2) should be developed as a whole transport scheme not just a new fast route. It is now accepted that thecurrent Crossrail is a poor use of the central tunnels and that a connection to the existing WCML should be built as a matter of urgency.

If done this could remove a lot of suburban trains from Euston during the HS2 reconstruction to the benefit of all.

In addition suburban trains from WCML to Crossrail will open up a huge improvement in access and interchange possibilities for WCML suburban travellers.

Also a large number of passengers will not have to use Euston Underground, which seems to be a huge problem.

There is no reason why WCML passengers should be treated worse than Midland and East Coast where they have a choice of main line station or Thameslink.

HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport should be working together to sell the whole package not just HS2 as a standalone scheme.

There are huge benefits possible for existing users of the current WCML as trains are removed to HS2.

Telling passengers that a few more freight trains could use the route is not putting over a strong case.

  • Jim Middleton, 5 Crab Tree Close, Olney, Bucks MK46 5DU
  • Editor’s note: NCE will be publishing a special feature to update progress on the HS2 project at the end of May.


Please listen to three wise men

The ideas of Professor Keith Weatherman, Martin Baggs and Mazen Alami (NCE 18 April news and viewpoint) in managing supply as well as demand of scarce water resources should feed into the ICE State of the Nation: Water report.

Prioritising surface water abstraction whenever flows are high, mainly in the winter months, and preserving ground water for times of low river flows, mainly in the summer months, seems common sense.

Investing in adequate reservoir capacity in the South East to counter increasingly unpredictable weather events could avoid disproportionate risks to the London economy.

Using technology to reduce intensive water demand as part of energy generation is not generally appreciated.

Politicians over the last 20 years have aimed their measures at reducing consumer demand, largely for reasons of fashion, at the expense of sound infrastructure investment and supply management, both of which are more difficult to sell to the electorate.

Clearly, a more balanceddebate is to be had.

  • Michael Fidler (M), mfidler@ntlworld.com

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