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Construction trucks face cycle safety law threat

Construction this week faced the threat of tough legislation forcing it to ensure HGVs are fitted with cycle safety equipment following the death of a cyclist last week.

Katharine Giles, an environmental scientist at University College London, was killed on Monday 7 April when she was struck by a tipper truck on Victoria Street in Westminster.

This led London mayor Boris Johnson to strengthen calls for HGVs to be fitted with safety equipment such as sidebars and cycle detection equipment or face being banned from London’s streets.”

In future we are going to be stipulating that no HGV can enter London unless it meets cycle safety standards,” he said. “One of the things that can be done is fitting of skirts to the sides of lorries and one of the big problems is that HGV drivers cannot see cyclists in the blind spot beside them.”

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According to a Transport for London (TfL) report into construction logistics and cycle safety, 16 cyclists were killed on London’s roads in 2011. Nine were killed by HGVs, of which seven were delivering to construction sites.

Last month the Mayor’s office and TfL launched a new plan to increase cycling in London (NCE 14 March). As well as pledging £913M for new cycle infrastructure over the next 10 years, it mooted a range of safety measures including legislative changes making cycle safety equipment compulsory for all new HGVs and retrofitting it where possible.

Crossrail already specifies the use of such measures to all companies delivering to its 40 London sites. They are required to have audible or visual blind spot detection equipment and under-run guards fitted to the side of vehicles to prevent cyclists going under rear wheels.

Initially TfL wants all delivery companies signed up to its Freight Operator Recognition Scheme, which sets bronze, silver and gold standards for vehicle safety and driver training.

Blind spot detection equipment and side guards are required as a minimum to achieve bronze. Crossrail puts the cost of this equipment at £1,250 per vehicle.

Freight Transport Association managing director for policy and communications James Hookham welcomed London’s HGV and cycle safety initiatives, but appealed for a balance of responsibility to be recognised.

“We’re working with London on these measures and clearly a lot is already being done especially by the construction sector. Companies such as Cemex, Keltbray and FM Conway, which are members of ours, are leading the charge for greater vehicle safety, but these measures alone will not solve the problem entirely.

Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner welcomed the call for installing appropriate detection equipment.

“CECA strongly supports efforts to improve the safety of cyclists as we recognise that too often those on bikes have fallen foul of traffic in the capital,” he said.

“We support efforts to ensure that construction vehicles have appropriate detection equipment where needed,” he added.

Safety campaigners push for more cyclist protection

Independent sustainability advisor Kate Cairns is the driving force behind the See Me Save Me campaign.

The campaign was launched in 2009 after Cairns’ sister Eilidh died when struck from behind by a tipper truck while cycling in Notting Hill Gate.

See Me Save Me is working to reduce the dangers of cycling and calls for the mandatory fitting of automatic cyclist detection equipment on all lorries.

It is also calling for the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to include reporting of accidents involving construction firms’ vehicles when on public roads within the Construction Design & Management (CDM) regulations.

The jurisdiction of CDM is currently limited to firms’ sites.

Cairns said TfL backs the call and that TfL transport commissioner Peter Hendy has written to the HSE to initiate the necessary changes to the CDM regulations.

“The construction industry is the biggest killer of cyclists, but contractors and their hauliers are rarely even reporting these incidents,” Cairns said.

“At present construction firms are not investigated and it is left to the Police to investigate each incident. The Police invariably say it was an accident, but these incidents are avoidable. The construction industry has got to
take responsibility.”


Readers' comments (2)

  • For comparison, try this . .

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  • But check details, hidden in the statistics the actual number of cyclist deaths and seriously injured by lorries is rising year on year; 2009, 2010, 2011. And even more in 2012. Disproportionately dangerous. Depends how you define 'safe'.

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