Friday, December 13, 2013

More Pressure on Road Haulage Drivers as Freight Group Speaks Out on Cycling Safety Controversy

Consultation Sought by London Councils
Shipping News Feature

UK – Following our recent piece on cycling in urban areas, and London in particular, yesterday’s meeting of the London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee has been described as a ‘missed opportunity’ by the Freight Transport Association (FTA). The Committee’s decision to hold a public consultation regarding changing the conditions of the London Lorry Control Scheme to require heavy goods vehicles (HGV’s) to fit cycle safety measures such as side guards and extra mirrors, and to consider restricting HGV movements during the morning peak, are considered to be wrong headed by the road haulage representatives.

London Councils is the collective body for the London Boroughs and is responsible for the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) which restricts the movement of HGV’s over 18 tonnes in London between 9pm and 7am on weekdays and between 1pm on Saturdays and 7am on Mondays. Haulage interests believe the changes are likely to result in more, smaller vehicles hitting the streets at peak times and the FTA’s Head of Urban Logistics and Regional Policy-Christopher Snelling said:

“The best thing London Councils could do for cycling safety is to reform the Control Scheme’s night-time restrictions so that quieter HGV’s can more easily make deliveries at night. This would allow as many lorries as possible to operate outside the peak hours when most cyclists are on the roads. It seems strange whilst London Councils are talking about banning HGV’s from operating during the peak hours, they are not talking about enabling HGV’s to operate outside of this time.

“The FTA is confused at the rationale for considering restricting HGV movements at peak times. London’s Cycling Commissioner himself has said that only 2 of the 14 deaths this year involved an HGV during the peak. There are also safety implications of replacing one HGV with many vans or having HGV’s bunching up just after 9am when more vulnerable pedestrians are on the roads. There would also be significant negative implications for air quality and the cost of living in London from any such restriction.”

Many in the industry believe that the view taken by the authorities with regard to the fitting of more safety equipment to the heavy trucks simply misses the point. Cyclists who behave improperly, usually through ignorance of what the driver is capable of seeing and reacting to, often suffer simply because of this lack of understanding whilst the driver can be traumatised by simply not noticing the presence of a bike. Mr Snelling continued:

“For cyclists this means taking up training; making themselves visible and understanding how HGVs manoeuvre so they do not put themselves at unnecessary risk. The aim should be to enable all users to share the roads safety, not to prevent any one user from using our roads, we all have our part to play in society.

“Introducing a restriction first at night risks the unintended consequence of some vehicles without these [new] safety features moving operations into the day time when more cyclists are on the roads. The way to improve safety is to take intelligent, targeted measures that can reduce the number of incidents and their severity. For HGV’s, this means focusing on low quality operators who fail to follow legal safety requirements, and on ‘tipper’ constructions vehicles which are involved in a significant proportion of the most serious HGV/cyclist incidents.”