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Improved cycle safety in London.

6 September 2013

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond, London Mayor Boris Johnson, and London’s Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy CBE, have announced a series of measures to improve cycle safety in London.

The Department for Transport (DfT) and TfL will strengthen the enforcement of HGV standards by dedicating more Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and Metropolitan Police officers to this activity in the capital. They will establish a dedicated London-based industrial HGV task force to raise awareness of safety requirements for vehicles and drivers and to take enforcement action against the minority of dangerous operators, vehicles and drivers. This will complement existing work by the Metropolitan Police with TfL funding to improve road safety and cycle safety in London, including the enforcement of advanced stop lines and to fine cyclists who jump red lights, promoting safer behaviour by all road users.

DfT and TfL will aim to:

  • establish a  new industrial HGV task force to take direct action against dangerous HGV drivers, vehicles and operators
  • DfT to review exemptions to current HGV regulations
  • call for European Union to speed up its review on the design of HGVs to increase drivers’ visibility of vulnerable road users
  • DfT and the Driving Standards Agency issuing a call for evidence about how driver training could change

Under national legislation, most HGVs, such as supermarket delivery lorries, are required to be fitted with safety equipment such as sidebars or low skirts which protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users from being dragged underneath the vehicle in the event of a collision.

However, a small number of vehicle types – particularly those operating in the construction sector - are exempt from fitting certain safety equipment. The rising number of such vehicles in London’s building boom present a risk to the growing number of cyclists, who now make up almost a quarter of all rush hour traffic in the centre.

Responding to the proposals, the Freight Transport Association’s director of policy Karen Dee said,

“FTA views the Mayor’s decision as unprecedented and authoritarian and considers it to be one that will create a mess of confused standards, leaving HGV operators not knowing what they are trying to achieve.
Improving road safety is a priority for FTA members and many lorry operators already work to the highest standards.  A huge amount of investment has been made by responsible operators who have gone over and above the minimum legal requirements to ensure that safety equipment is fitted to their vehicles. There are better ways of achieving safe roads for all road users.

 “We need to see cyclists taking responsibility for their actions, obeying traffic regulations, giving space to HGVs making manoeuvres and generally riding responsibly. Unless you also improve the behaviour of cyclists, the problem will not improve in the way that everyone wants.”

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