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Transport Secretary Philip Hammond says UK pushing for EU rules to protect cyclists from lorries

European transport ministers due to vote on key HGV safety features in October this year

Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond has insisted that the UK is pressing for European legislation to be introduced that would help protect vulnerable cyclists from the danger posed by heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), including fitting vehicles with cameras and sensors.

The cabinet minister was speaking to The Independent newspaper, which earlier this month launched a Save Our Cyclists campaign aimed at improving the safety of cyclists sharing the roads with large vehicles.

The newspaper reports that 369 of the European Parliament’s 736 MEPs backed a resolution on the issue, taking it just over the 50% threshold required for the European Commission to frame legislation on the issue, which will be discussed and voted on by European transport ministers at a meeting in Brussels later this year.

While the intervention and support of a mainstream media outlet such as The Independent is to be greatly welcomed, it shouldn’t detract from the successful work put in by campaigners such as Kate Cairns, whose sister Eilidh was killed by a lorry in London two years ago.

As reported on earlier this year, Kate launched the See Me, Save Me campaign in memory of her sister to mobilise opinion formers to help gather support for change amongst MEPs and encourage them to adopt the resolution.

Talking about how the proposals are moving forward, Mr Hammond told the newspaper: “We are leading discussions at a European level on further improving vehicle standards for heavy goods vehicles to help reduce accidents with cyclists and pedestrians caused by poor visibility.

“Cycling is good for the environment and can have enormous health benefits and I share The Independent’s commitment to improve cycling safety.”

The newspaper added that according to government safety, cycling safety will be discussed by European transport ministers at a meeting in Brussels in October this year – still six months away – when they will debate the proposals and vote on whether to implement them.

Mr Hammond also confirmed that the Department for Transport has given the go-ahead to a pilot of “trixi” mirrors, which are placed on traffic lights at cab height and afford drivers a clear view of cyclists alongside the vehicle.

“We are making progress on a number of the issues raised in the campaign. For example, we have just authorised a trial of trixi mirrors which, if successful, could be used elsewhere in the country to make cyclists more visible to drivers.”

A DfT spokesperson confirmed to that she believed that the trial in question was the one previously authorised by the department that began in July last year on the first two Barclays Cycle Superhighways routes in London, with the pilot being conducted by Transport for London.

Mr Hammond added that £11 million had been set aside to provide Bikeability training for schoolchildren in England, which he said would “help a new generation of cyclists gain the skills and knowledge they need to cycle safely on the roads.”

Tom Bogdanowicz from the London Cycling Campaign said that the minister’s suppor was welcome, but insisted that further efforts needed to be made to improve cyclists’ safety.

“We would like to see cycle awareness included in lorry drivers’ Certificate of Professional Competence,” he explained. “Really their training should also include time spent on a bicycle – that would bring home the issue to them.

“Of course we welcome any support from the Government to make the roads safer for cyclists – but we want to see what is actually done.”

Government sources said next key phase in the campaign to improve cycling safety is a meeting in Brussels in October when Transport Ministers will discuss the new plans to make lorries safer and vote on introducing the new laws.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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RuthF28 | 12 years ago

I'm very glad to hear of this campaign. Of course cyclists need training too, but lorries are far bigger and can do a hell of a lot more damage. There was an incident a couple of years ago where a lorry drove over a small car - just didn't see it. (Yes both were driving at the time). I fully support Hammond on this, I'm glad to see action and I truly hope that unfit and dangerous drivers will also be prosecuted and taken off the road (though not holding my breath on that one).

OldRidgeback | 12 years ago

Yorkshire ranter - I posted this bit of research data on a previous thread and I suggest you read it carefully. It was not produced by a 'we are the victims' group of cyclists but by a highly respected organisation:

According to analysis of police road casualty data for 1992 to 2006 by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) were responsible for 103, or 43%, of the 242 cycling deaths in London during that period, despite only accounting for 4% of traffic. The research found that 53% of the deaths were caused by lorry drivers turning left across cyclists, due to the poor visibility from the driver's cab, which is often too high up to see cyclists next to the vehicle. The research team said that high-cab trucks were designed for motorways and should not be permitted to drive within city limits.

skippy | 12 years ago

Too often the driver of a large vehicle will barrell into a roundabout expecting the others to give way .
This morning i am on a roundabout signalling the lhs as i continue around so this German Monstrosity decides not to slow or stop to let me continue . Emergency stop for me and luckily the following car had turned off after tailgating me for some time . Eggs, milk , yogurt and other purchases on the floor making a mess and the tubby, slovenly dressed miscreant jumps out of the cab with something in the hand to approach me . Locking the doors and blaring the horn may have persuaded him to behave as he adjusted his glasses and belt before getting back in his a and driving off at walking pace . do a good job of advertising themselves on the tailgate but i onder if the driver was planning to give me advertising material or problems .
Still awaiting a reply from the website found through google , of course the Polizei are not interested since they were not there .

More to the point ,yesterday i was on bike on the same roundabout and a camper drove in in the same mnner gave me the finger wen i called out and with my mate chased him down the road managed to stop him and enquired about his behaviour . Told in German to "Stu** it " my companion produced his Polizei ID .

Excuses followed , but the upshot was that he was in convoy with 3 other campers now seen parked awaiting his arrival , so he thought we wouldn't mind giving way since he was bigger .

"Might is right" is not the "rule of the road" contrary to these examples of attitude to others !

A V Lowe | 12 years ago

It may be interesting to review the truck-cycle fatalities in London over the recent few years - the litany includes drivers who were unfit through poor eyesight, drink, and other driving below a reasonable standard, and trucks where the mirrors or other equipment were not fit of purpose. No amount of legislation for fitting the right equipment and using it properly will deal with this misuse.

Many of the deaths arise when the truck overhauls the cyclist and turns across their path very few happen through a cyclist riding up the inside.

Perhaps the biggest impact will be delivered by promoting the act of actually making eye contact with another road user and through this confirming that you have been seen and the other road user has negotiated, with you, the important detail of how your paths will not meet. Many cyclists do need to learn how to look back (the lifesaver) and to use the other vital safety equipment (their ears) to cover every angle - and likewise drivers.

I review rail accident reports - sadly road crashes are so frequent by comparison that they are not reviewed with the same diligence - and 2 young male cyclists have perished under the wheels of light rail vehicles - both failed to look and failed to hear the warning bells and horns with evidence to suggest that both were using the personal stereos found by their bodies.

So lets promote the use of the the 4 pieces of safety kit that most cyclists and drivers have fitted as standard equipment, to their full capacity whenever both groups are using the road. No need for huge technical fixes, just use the basic kit properly, and makes sure those who fail to do this, driving with impaired vision, hearing or co-ordination, get pulled up before they do hurt another road user, or themselves.

OldRidgeback | 12 years ago

I thought this was interesting - looks like one firm is taking steps to make its trucks safer - makes you wonder why more don't do the same. Perhaps this company is more switched on than most and wants to get a positive spin on being one of the first to take action - no real harm in that aim if it boosts safety either. Given that Brigade has come up with a bespoke solution for Eurovia, it does make you wonder why other firms don't go to the same supplier. The costs of insuring trucks is high and technology like this would help cut premiums - probably coming close to paying for the installation in fact - everbody wins:

As part of a conscious effort to improve road safety, one of the leading asphalt production companies, Eurovia Roadstone, has undertaken trials and fitted proximity sensors to heavy goods vehicles operating in London, Essex, Suffolk and Kent
In Britain, on average, 2706 cyclists are killed or seriously injured on our highways and a large percentage of these accidents involve lorries turning left as they do not have clear visibility of cyclists alongside the vehicle due to blind spots. A study by the Transport Research Laboratory also found that 23 out of 92 fatal collisions in London were a result of large vehicles turning left.
With 38 liveried vehicles delivering asphalt across central London, Essex, Suffolk and Kent and a desire to improve safety on our highways, Eurovia Roadstone in conjunction with Brigade Electronics plc chose to develop a solution to the growing problem of cycle safety. The result of this is a combination of proximity sensors, cameras and display monitors that have been trialled on two vehicles operating in London. Its success has seen a commission to extend the system to remainder of the fleet of liveried asphalt delivery vehicles.
The technology works by mounting sensors at various points along the vehicle which activate when the vehicle indicates left. When the sensors detect activity an alarm triggers in the driver’s cab and an image is relayed to a small monitor. The driver is then able to view any potential hazards via a camera which is mounted on the vehicle’s wing mirror. When the driver indicates left an external audible warning device, announces, “Caution, truck tuning left.” The sensors are also speed sensitive to prevent false alerts when the vehicle is travelling at higher speeds away from urban environments.
Eurovia Roadstone is part of the Eurovia Group and after the successful trial of this new system, a rollout has begun on the remainder of the Eurovia Roadstone liveried fleet.
“This system requires a relatively low investment but can deliver huge road safety benefits,” says Pat Riley, Director of Eurovia Roadstone. “Fitting one heavy goods vehicle with the sensors, camera and audible alert costs in the region of £750 - a small price to pay for a reduction in casualties and potential loss of life.”
Having large vehicles operating in urban areas present challenges to the safety of road users and after a series of near-misses being reported, Eurovia Roadstone felt it extremely important to honour its responsibility to pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users. This new development represents a two year journey to bring it to fruition.
This new initiative from Eurovia Roadstone has seen them shortlisted in the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation Awards for both the Technical Application and Road Safety categories. Eurovia Roadstone is dynamic in its approach to corporate responsibility and the lorry proximity sensor cameras are the latest step forward in bringing increased protection to cyclists, drivers, road users, members of the public and also to the well-being of Eurovia Roadstone staff and hauliers.

the-daily-ripper | 12 years ago

Much as I welcome this, I can't help but think there's a hell of a lot of blame being levelled at the truck drivers.

Whilst I appreciate that some aren't the best, my personal perspective on this (from a pretty much daily 34 mile round trip commute into London) is that the 'people on bikes' certainly aren't helping themselves.

When there's traffic queued up at a set of lights, whether that be cars, trucks, buses, lorries, and clearly indicating to turn left, why do about 90% of people on bikes in London insist on riding up the inside, not being able to get to the front, and then expecting to go straight on? Oh, and then swearing and shouting at the drivers who have been sat there waiting to turn left who suddenly find a stream of people on bikes trying to go straight on - often when the lane doesn't even allow it.

Whilst there's plenty of clamour for tightening up on trucks, people on bikes aren't helping themselves either. Doesn't mean they should be killed, but I would like to lose the "we're always the victims' mentality of a lot of reporting.

Rant done for the day.

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