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Transport minister rejects call to make HGV cycle safety features compulsory

MP George Galloway urges government to take action to protect cyclists

Transport minister Robert Goodwill says cameras and improved mirrors set to be fitted to new lorries under proposed European regulations may also be installed on to existing vehicles to help make cyclists safer – but he has ruled out a call from Respect MP George Galloway to make sensors and other safety equipment mandatory for HGV operators.

Mr Goodwill, who is responsible both for cycling and road safety, was replying to a question in the House of Commons in which Mr Galloway asked him if he would “bring forward legislative proposals to make sensors for the blindspot and other cycling safety equipment a legal requirement on all new heavy goods vehicles and passenger service vehicles,” as well as on existing ones.

In reply, the minister said: “The Department for Transport has led moves at the UN-ECE to improve the mirrors fitted to new heavy goods vehicles. Once implemented at EU level these new mirrors will help cycle safety by increasing the driver's view of the passenger side.”

“The International Standards Organisation (ISO) is developing a standard for camera monitoring systems fitted to road vehicles. The Government anticipates the standard will be included within the UN-ECE regulation as a means to improve further the driver vision for new large vehicles. It is possible that these new mirrors and camera systems could be fitted to existing large vehicles.”

But he added: “There are no plans currently to introduce requirements for sensing systems to detect cyclists alongside heavy vehicles. A full assessment of these systems will be needed before reaching a decision to impose additional costs on operators of these vehicles.”

Mr Galloway, who was MP for Bethnal Green and Bow from 2005 to 2010 and now represents Bradford West is widely expected to run for Mayor of London in 2016.

With transport being one of the mayor's principal areas of responsibility, cycle safety is likely to be a key campaigning issue, as it was last year when Boris Johnson won a second term.

He urged that safety features on lorries should be compulsory. Quoted in the London Evening Standard, he said: “I welcome a European-wide initiative to make cycling safer through the installation of cameras on large vehicles, but this has to be mandatory and not optional.”

But he added that cycle safety was too pressing an issue to wait for European regulations to go through the legislative process, saying: “The Department of Transport seems to be worried about cost but how many more cyclists must be killed or injured for the cost to be right? This is urgent. We can’t wait for Brussels.”

He also asked Mr Goodwill if he would “launch a public education campaign to encourage all cyclists to engage in safe cycling practice.”

The minister highlighted the four-week THINK! campaign aimed at cyclists and motorists launched in the latter part of October and covering London, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Cambridge.

The campaign was conducted through outdoor advertising, which Mr Goodwill said “was chosen as it enables us to reach and remind drivers and cyclists at the point of action and when behaviour is more likely to be positively influenced (i.e. when they are driving or cycling).”

Mr Goodwill added: “A review of the campaigns performance will be carried out shortly and the results will inform our cycling approach going forward.”

A similar campaign conducted in 2012 was criticised by cycling groups including CTC due to the fact it appeared to conflict with minimum standards for driving set out in the Highway Code, advised cyclists to wear helmets, and had a budget of just £80,000.

Cycle safety will continue to be in the spotlight at the Palace of Westminster this week, with the Transport Select Committee holding an oral evidence session on the issue on Monday.

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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A V Lowe | 9 years ago

The EC has recently proposed the abandoning of a legislation requiring retro fitting of mirrors to trucks manufactured between 2000 and 2007, on the pretext that the trucks covered by this requirement have now all been retrofitted. However the UK agency, VOSA, which supervises the annual testing of LGV and PCV is unable to provide clear figures that the UK truck parc has fully complied with this standard

A review of safety systems reveals that it can take a driver 5 seconds to scan a full set of blind spot mirrors - by which time a cyclist may easily have 'disappeared'. Many drivers are saying that monitoring mirrors distracts them from their core activity of driving.

2 answers - design trucks with direct vision between the driver and those outside - reduce the number of large truck movements by sensible use of transport.

banzicyclist2 | 9 years ago


more bollocks from our MPs positioning themselfs ready for the election l M H O

Leodis | 9 years ago

The minister highlighted the four-week THINK! campaign aimed at cyclists and motorists launched in the latter part of October and covering London, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Cambridge.

In Leeds I have seen nothing of this.

Leodis | 9 years ago

Jesus H. Christ you know when you are in trouble and are a vulnerable minority when George Galloway steps in.

giff77 | 9 years ago

I would scrap asl's if not that. Scrap the lane filtering into them
With that. I would make it an offence to filter down near side of vehicles within a certain distance of the junction. Like, how many motorists apart from lorry drivers check their near side any way. Also. If a cyclist is ahead within say 25 meters of a junction then the motorist can't push past in that zone or once the cyclist has come to a stand still.

Sadly though. Not sure how this would be policed!!!

Paul M | 9 years ago

Hmmm - with friends like George Galloway, who needs enemies?

Neil753 | 9 years ago

Any new legislation, or an "agreed standard" proposal, must indeed be carefully assessed.

Would accidents on the outside of the hgv increase, if drivers were spending more time monitoring "safety systems" on the left hand side?
Would stationary HGVs at junctions, with triggered warning systems, encourage impatient cyclists further back to take greater risks?
Would cyclists feel more "confident" in squeezing up the inside, on the assumption that they were being "monitored" by the driver?
How easy would it be to stop the "flow" of cyclists, once the hgv had come to a sudden stop?
Would the incidence of punishment passes increase?
How many extra pollution related deaths would be added to the (current) 3,000 per year in London alone, through increased hold ups at each junction?
How easy would it be to introduce compulsory "in cab" monitors, when the average age of hgv drivers is 54, and half of those over 50 need reading glasses?
Would an audio alert system prevent other audio "clues" from being heard at critical moments?
Would consumers, many of whom are already in financial difficulty or particularly vulnerable groups, be happy to absorb these extra costs?
Would we be making our country even less economically competitive?

It's only natural for cyclists to want these systems, and we should leave no stone unturned in our efforts to reduce KSIs, but there's far more to this than meets the eye.

cavasta | 9 years ago

Which is the most powerful and influential: the cycling lobby or the transport/haulage lobby? Just saying...

LondonCalling | 9 years ago

Did anybody really expect a Tory scum to give a shit??? Really??

jacknorell | 9 years ago

"A full assessment of these systems will be needed before reaching a decision to impose additional costs on operators of these vehicles."

In other words, we'll sit on our behinds until we're forced to make a decision...

It seems to me that insurance companies are going to impose these systems on operators before the government does.

KnightBiker | 9 years ago

In the netherlands (and probably most of the EU) most big trucks, busses etc are fitted with deadspot mirror's this should already help a lot.
As extra camera systems become more common it's a good idea to have these systems fitted in the next 4 years, it's also good for insurance company's who more and more demand video proof for car crash claims.

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