Tuesday, May 27, 2014

As Operation Safeway Bites Road Haulage and Freight Groups Should Welcome Cyclist Safety Campaigns

As Police Ramp Up City Biking Programme There is an Alternative 'Good Cop' Policy Still Running for Those Bike Riders Who Care to Use It
Shipping News Feature

UK – Many road haulage operators will welcome the news that the Metropolitan Police and Greater London Authority (GLA) have instituted the next phase of ‘Operation Safeway’, the programme to reduce accidents in which casualties and fatalities to cyclists occur. The scheme so far has produced thousands of fixed penalty notices, many for bike riders flaunting the law by riding on the pavements and jumping red lights etc. The policy is one half of the ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ technique with education and advice coming via the ‘Exchanging Places’ scheme which is designed to promote safer interaction between the two wheelers and those HGV drivers responsible for the freight and construction traffic in the city.

Since the inception of the Safeway project in November 2013, prompted by the horrendous casualties in that month, over 4,000 cyclists have received Fixed Penalty Notices or prosecutions with thousands of car, and presumably lorry, drivers also caught in the net for offences ranging from lack of insurance to drunken driving. Meanwhile the Metropolitan Police is continuing to run the series of Exchanging Places Events, a timetable of which can be seen HERE. The scheme offers cyclists the chance to sit in the cab of an HGV to better understand the problems which beset truck drivers trying to negotiate their way round the capital whilst coping with the reduced visibility and blind spots inherent in bigger vehicles. The Events are held almost every week until October and spread around the whole of London, and have been praised by many riders who have tried the scheme.

An investigation by the London Evening Standard into the deaths of 40 cyclists between 2010 and 2012 showed that only 4 drivers had been jailed as a result. Since that time there have been several high profile cases pending in the capital against HGV drivers which were subsequently dropped. The construction industry has particularly been in focus and operators not involved in the TfL Freight Operators Recognition Scheme (FORS), in which standards of every facet of their company is audited, are not allowed on the premises of most major London building projects such as Crossrail, and TfL offers help and advice for cyclists on its website.

Many of the accidents which occur in the capital happen over and over again at the same locations with a death at the Elephant and Castle this month bringing the city’s fatalities of bike riders to five so far this year. This junction in South London has been extensively remodelled to improve safety yet, despite a reduction in accidents, the carnage continues. Another TfL remodelled choke point in Bow saw a young cyclist killed, one of the casualties in November 2013 when five others also perished, which last month’s inquest decided was probably a result of her cycling across a red light, something cyclists are constantly accused of by car and lorry drivers.

Part of the problem when it comes to speedily resolution are the extreme views held by some using two, or four or more wheels, each accusing the other of being the principal cause. Weighted opinions have been expressed by senior members of the Green Party and organisations such as the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) with its ‘Space for Cycling’ scheme which demands an extension of road availability in every one of London’s post code areas, targeting specific routes and lobbying for access. The LCC also offers ‘No Win, No Fee’ legal representation to any cyclist who feels they have a claim against any other road user which driving organisations have said previously is reasonable only if cyclists also carry insurance and pay towards the roads they demand so vociferously by way of some sort of Road Fund Licence fee.

In truth this is a problem that will never be completely solved but, with a little more cooperation, can be significantly reduced. For the road haulage sector the answers lie in the improved visibility offered by more modern vehicles and the technology of suitable vehicle mounted cameras. Add in the now to be mandatory safety features such as under-run protection, reshaped cab designs and better mirrors. Additionally the latest campaign to opt for ‘out of hours’ deliveries and collections whenever practical can help the cause.

For cyclists and car drivers the only answer will be better traffic control where possible but with education, and the elimination of poor or naïve driving, playing the major roles and probably proving the hardest targets to achieve.

Photo: Legal or Not? You decide, the Pedibus offers hirers the chance to pedal and tour whilst enjoying copious amounts of alcohol. We trust the guy steering abstains!