Wednesday, July 22, 2015

With Vulnerable Road Users Under the Spotlight of the Freight Haulage Sector What of London’s River?

New Programme to Make the Waterway Safer for the Smallest of Craft
Shipping News Feature

UK – There has been much talk of vulnerable road users of late and, in London particularly, great strides are being made to protect pedestrians and cyclists, unsurprising given the horrific consequences of several recent accidents in the capital. With changes in specifications for road haulage vehicles coming into force in September and several schemes to educate both freight truck drivers and cyclists the situation is set to improve a little for those most at risk. What, however, of those in danger on the route at the heart of the city, the River Thames?

Now a Port of London Authority (PLA) safety campaign is looking to improve all river users’ awareness of how to share the river safely with smaller, vulnerable recreational craft on the tidal Thames. As the river has become so much cleaner in recent years we now see the smallest of watercraft present in areas where hitherto none would have dared venture when pollution was at its height. Equally however the waterway is still much used by professional and amateur boatmen alike in larger vessels.

The new PLA campaign features seven posters focusing on themes including: the need for suitable lights and high viz clothing, being mindful of causing ‘wash’ which can tip rowers out of their boats, river positioning, lifejackets and being aware of river traffic density in central London. The posters are being progressively distributed to river users, rowing and other sporting clubs along the river. The next posters to be issued are: ‘Lost in the Urban Jungle’ and ‘Who you gonna call?’ The PLA’s dedicated recreation harbour master, Jon Beckett, explained:

“This campaign is aimed not only at encouraging paddlers and rowers to make themselves more visible and improve their river safety. We also want to make skippers of motor cruisers, sailing boats and commercial vessels, more aware of the vulnerabilities of smaller, more exposed vessels.”

The latest PLA river safety initiative follows on from the ‘Lookout!’ campaign, developed with the Thames Regional Rowing Council and launched last year and the initiative has been welcomed by the growing band of small water craft enthusiasts such as Paul Hyman, stand-up paddle boarder and managing director of Active360 who said:

“We love getting out on the Thames. Paddling through London is one of the best feelings, but we need to make sure we stay in the right places and are visible to the larger boats. The campaign’s really good for us as a reminder of the simple things we need to do to stay safe. Just as importantly, it’s making sure that the skippers of the bigger boats are looking out for us and helping us stay safe.”

More information and advice on enjoying recreation on the Thames safely can be found on the PLA’s recreational website.