Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Road Safety Week Aims at Cyclists and Freight Haulage Interests Need to Pay Attention

Transport Operators and Policy Makers Must Continue Efforts to Protect Bikers
Shipping News Feature
UK – The proliferation of urban cyclists is to be welcomed as more people take to two wheels each year for a variety of reasons ranging from cost and convenience to health benefits and concern for the environment. Now the road safety charity, Brake, has designated this year's Road Safety Week 'Bike Smart' in a bid to ensure that cyclists are kept safe on our roads, something the road freight community has already devoted time and money to with a variety of changes under way to trucks involved in the haulage sector.

Taking place between 19 - 25 November and coordinated by Brake, Road Safety Week seeks to raise public awareness over road safety, acting as the driver for positive change on our roads. Government statistics clearly show that more than 100 bike riders are injured every day in needless, preventable crashes whilst over a third of people killed or seriously injured on UK roads are those travelling by bike (either bicycle or motorcycle).

Brake is asking that drivers be Bike Smart, driving safely and utilising the latest life-saving technologies in their vehicles, whilst policy makers must implement a safe systems approach and designing segregated spaces for cyclists wherever possible. This last of course is already under way in cities such as London where successive mayors and Transport for London have introduced new vision standards for trucks and redesigned road routes to give cyclists priority.

Brake also is advising cyclists and motorcyclists to be Bike Smart through safe riding behaviours, appropriate training, clothing and equipment, no matter who is right or wrong in an accident between an HGV and a rider there can only ever be one most at risk. Many in the road haulage lobby believe that, whilst the professional driver has to pass both physical and intellectual tests to be on the road, and is aided by all manner of vision enhancing devices, anyone can simply get on a bike and ride through the city streets.

The Metropolitan Police scheme ‘Exchanging Places’ had by 2016 seen 20,000 people take part swapping bike for truck and vice versa, with 97% of the cyclists involved saying they would actively change their riding behaviour after spending just a few minutes behind the wheel. Many in the haulage industry now believe that the next proactive move the administration should take is to introduce a compulsory test for those who wish to ride in London.

The other telling statistic is that, although women riders are a minority, they are involved in a wholly disproportionate amount of serious and fatal crashes in city streets. Whilst this may be considered politically incorrect for the government and others to state openly, analysts point to the cultural difference whereby men are usually more familiar with the way a large lorry performs in tight situations, the majority of serious incidents involve the cyclist passing, or being passed, by a truck outside them and turning left when the drivers vision is almost certainly partially obscured. Such deficiencies would be overcome with proper instruction which would come with a formal qualification.

Brake’s efforts for the forthcoming Road Safety Week will be supported through working with campaigners, community groups, road safety professionals, companies and schools (all of which can now register for a free action pack at the weblink here) and by funding from the Department for Transport. Joshua Harris, Director of Campaigns for Brake, commented:

“Every year Road Safety Week provides a unique opportunity to focus the public, and policy makers, attention on saving lives on our roads. The numbers of those travelling on two wheels is ever-increasing and yet bike riders remain incredibly vulnerable to death and injury; that is why this year our theme is Bike Smart. From 19 - 25 November we will be shouting about the importance of bike safety and encouraging all across the UK to do the same. Small changes can help save countless lives on our roads and now is the time for us to act to improve bike safety in the UK.”