A pilot scheme to educate lorry drivers about the dangers their vehicles pose to cyclists has been announced by City of Edinburgh Edinburgh, and will begin in the New Year.
Employees of the local authority will take part in a scheme to give drivers of HGVs a basic education in cycling technique and cycling proficiency in an attempt to teach them how to share the road safely with cyclists.
The Scotsman reports that a pilot will begin in the New Year with the roads team, which performs maintenance and repairs. The council intends to roll the scheme out to a larger fleet of vehicles, including all refuse and recycling lorries in 2015 if the tests prove to be successful.
City of Edinburgh Council’s deputy transport leader, Councillor Jim Orr, highlighted that HGVs account for a high proportion of road deaths in the city and introduced the council’s plans for the scheme.
He said: “There were two cycling fatalities in Edinburgh due to lorries in 2011 and 2012, each one a tragedy, and these accounted for half of all cycling fatalities, even though lorries are a relatively small proportion of traffic."
He said the pilot scheme "would include practical on-street cycle training for drivers. The aim would be to encourage lorry drivers to empathise with cyclists as vulnerable road users, and understand how to share the road with them. If the pilot scheme is successful, it is our intention that it will be rolled out across the whole fleet by the end of 2015. If so, we will be the first local authority in Scotland to have such standards.”
The council’s announcement comes after the London Borough of Islington released plans for its Safe Urban Driving training course last week for the council’s employees as well as its contractors.
Those plans were announced after six cyclists lost their lives in London during November, with large vehicles involved in all of those incidents.
In a statement, Edinburgh cycle safety campaigners Lynne and Ian McNicoll, whose son Andrew died when he was struck by a lorry while cycling to work in January 2012, said they supported the council's initiative.
The couple, who set up the Andrew Cyclist Charitable Trust, which is now represented on the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Cycling said: “This new proposal for a pilot on-street cycle training scheme for drivers of the council’s fleet builds on these earlier initiatives and is most welcome.”
Director of policy at road safety charity IAM, Neil Greig, welcomed the initiative but said that some cyclists also needed to understand the driver's perspective.
He told The Scotsman: “Anything that cultivates the atmosphere of sharing the road has to be welcomed, but lorry drivers are not always the main problem. They tend to have undergone extra tuition and have extra licensing requirements.
“Often it’s cyclists and car drivers who don’t realise how little a lorry driver can see. So while it’s good that this initiative is being introduced, we also need to see cyclists up in the cab with lorry drivers.”
He said. “The Metropolitan Police in London has just won a safety award for placing a big lorry in central London and inviting cyclists in to show how limited their views can be.
“If Police Scotland and Edinburgh could do something similar that would do a great deal for road safety. It could highlight the dangers of how little visibility those driving large vehicles may have of cyclists.”
It's not only councils that are dishing out advice to HGV operators. Major motor vehicle insurance broker Zurich Global Corporate recently released their guidlines titled: Risk Insight - Sharing The Road With Cyclists. The guide focuses on giving examples of hazards that bike riders may encounter that may not be immediately obvious to drivers.