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Letters: Take cyclist safety seriously

Last week’s story on the recent cyclist tragedy raises the wider concern relating to off -site deaths and injuries caused by construction vehicles. In 1990 my 14-year-old daughter died when she was hit by a speeding car driven by a building company salesman. Like many drivers working in the construction industry they are often rushing from one site to another. This also applies to engineers and other staff who set off late to attend a meeting.

I, therefore, support Kate Cairns’ call for the Health & Safety Executive to require construction firms to report public road incidents, and this should apply to consultants, contractors and suppliers.

  • Peter F Mason

The spin that you put on the road safety article “construction trucks face cycle safety law threat” is deeply disappointing. It is very reasonable by SeeMeSaveMe to call for the full HSE and CDM brunt to be borne off -site. It requires, however, the construction and civil engineering industry to take this risk - resulting too many times in loss of life - seriously.


Instead, your article mixed up people’s health and safety with the loss of profi t and reputation of construction companies. It also highlights - reading in between the lines - the much bigger and rather persistent problem of lip service and box ticking that the health and safety industry has to face day in day out.

And of course the HGV killings are not just a “cycle concern” as it aff ects pedestrians too. When recently taking the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety & Health and also the Construction Skills Certification Scheme test, I was reminded once more that separation, strict speed limits and one-way systems are needed for successful road safety at a construction site.

As a group of professionals well versed in the risk assessment philosophy we ought to stop pushing the buck. We should, therefore, ask much more for risk elimination in our urban environment, especially in light of required changes to our cityscapes, as vividly described in last week’s sustainable cities feature. Katya Leyendecker, chair, Notting Cycling Campaign,

Editor’s note: NCE is very aware of the need for the construction and civil engineering industry to take the issue of cyclist safety around its vehicles very seriously. The point of the articles last week and this week is to highlight the issue facing cyclists and also to highlight the challenges facing the industry to find a solution. Hopefully, by doing so we can encourage all parties to work together to achieve a better situation on the UK’s increasingly congested roads.


Bringing a single vision to the BIM revolution

Opposite views about BIM were expressed in NCE last week. It seemed that there is a great deal of ignorance on the part of engineers, who nevertheless thought it was bound to come, and that it off ered hopes of better collaboration and less uncertainty.

But those who had experience of the systems bewailed the cost and time penalties involved in practice. How could this contradiction be?

It might help if people were reminded of the situation decades ago when the public utilities began to provide 2D digital maps of their pipes and cables under or over the highway?

Local authorities who had only just acquired computer mapping experience themselves, were faced with inputs from a variety of systems, such that in some cases the fi rst step was to acquire double-elephant-sized plotters and scanners in order to transfer the digits to their own database.

Similarly at that time, contractors began to expect digital drawing files for highway improvement schemes, and I recall rotating a dual carriageway bypass by slightly over a degree to comply with a contractor’s cheeky desire to operate on true north rather than National Grid. Similar difficulties will recur now.

The answer to such chaos, under the revised conditions of 3D, is standardisation. Sometimes software companies think this is contrary to their private interests. I don’t believe it is, but this is not a suitable candidate for self-regulation. Someone has tocrack the whip sometimes.

  • Christopher May (M), 6 Leewood Road, Weston super Mare BS23 2PB

Airline alliances could solve UK’s capacity needs

Your article on airport planning last week highlighted the shortsightedness of the Davies Commission’s remit.

We appear to have two basic assumptions in any consideration of the airport debate. Firstly, any expansion must take place in the South East and second, that we must have a single hub.

But there are alternatives and these must take account of the number of UK travellers who use airports in the South East because they cannot access long-haul flights locally.

No statistics have been produced to show the numbers involved as this would weaken the case for expansion around London. Who cares if Heathrow loses it place as number one airport so long as we have efficient and effective air travel?

The United States does not have a single hub - each major airline has its own and American Airlines actually has five. Obviously, the UK is a lot smaller than the US but would distribution not provide a better solution and one which would break the BA/BAA stranglehold at Heathrow?

Let’s suppose that each of the major partnerships develops on a separate hub: Oneworld, which includes American Airlines, BA and Cathay, could concentrate on Heathrow; Star Alliance could base operations at Gatwick and the Sky Alliance could use Stansted as its main base. This might leave Emirates to join in partnership with others at Birmingham and Etihad to develop a hub at Manchester with Virgin.

I know it’s a cliché but can we include a little thinking outside of the South East box?

Peter Styles, Kingsbury, Warks,


Treasury trolls plumb depths with toll idea

In Jon Master’s article (NCE last week), “Tolls: a road funding red herring”, he refers to the government’s muddled thinking over whether to put a toll on the Brynglas tunnels or not.

First, the reason that this would be necessary for a tolled bypass to be viable is simply the economic logic of creating a monopoly. This the very opposite of the purpose of privatisation, the rationale of which is to achieve better value for money and efficiency for the users of services.

It would seem that, as far as the Treasury is concerned, a monopoly is good when it suits them, even when it’s not in the users’ interest.

Second, it’s common sense that many of the users of the Brynglas tunnels will have already incurred tolls on the Severn Crossing whilst making their journeys in and out of South Wales. That the government should even think such a proposal worthy of being debated in public, shows how dim-witted they are.

Jerry Cuthbert (M),


Squeezing the truth out of mergers

Why did you illustrate your cover story on a merger (NCE 11 April) with a “Road Narrows” sign? Was it meant to signify the fact that most mergers and acquisitions reduce, rather than increase, value?

Frank Westcott (M),

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