Monday, November 5, 2012

Road Haulage Interests Must Wake up to Cyclists!

New Initiative Launched with MPs Support
Shipping News Feature

UK – Time and again we come back to the recurring tragedy seen on Britain’s roads, particularly in urban areas, of cyclists being injured and often killed by trucks as both contest their place on the highway. The road haulage lobby arguing that cyclists often ride in the dangerous blind spots which all commercial vehicles have whilst cyclists point to unreasonable behaviour by the drivers.

In September we illustrated new products available to vehicle operators aimed at minimising, or even eliminating, blind spots, but last week the Mineral Products Association (MPA) launched its own campaign in the form of a Vulnerable Road User Safety Policy to educate and inform both truck drivers and their two wheeled fellow road users with regard to each others problems.

The vehicles which carry the heaviest loads normally allowable on UK roads are often those with goods bound for construction and infrastructure development, just the sort of operation which MPA members undertake daily and last Wednesday, at a National Cycle Safe Event held next to London’s Hyde Park the policy was launched to coincide with the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Exchanging Places’ initiative which gives both interests the chance to experience each others actual situation, and co-hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.

Four commercial vehicles, supplied by MPA members LaFarge Aggregates, Tarmac, S. Walsh & Sons and Hanson UK demonstrated to the assembled cyclists the hazards associated with incorrect road position when in the vicinity of an HGV. The new policy forms part of the Association’s Cycle Safe Campaign and Strategy which was launched in June 2011 to prevent collisions between cyclists and lorries and has three key elements.

1. All industry drivers must receive vulnerable road user training. The industry training body has developed a specific course which will be CPC approved and available shortly.

2. New industry LGVs must be fitted with additional safety equipment including blind spot elimination devices and mirrors, side under-run guards, audible left turn warnings for cyclists and pedestrians, and rear warning signs.

3. Existing industry LGVs must be fitted with similar equipment levels within an extended 5 year period with operators encouraged to consider accelerating this timing.

The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group included Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond MP who gave his full support to the new initiative saying it was a practical way of reducing accidents through education whilst Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive MPA, commented:

“We believe that our policy is the most positive initiative taken by any sector with regard to improving vulnerable road user safety and reflects the industry’s commitment to this issue. This is not a campaign for a day, or a week, or a month, this is forever. This issue is not going to go away. We are going to play our part and we hope others will do likewise.

“MPA will continue to work with partners in the construction and freight industries, local and national Government and cycling and other organisations to improve safety. We believe it is essential that all interested parties must work together so that effective, consistent and proportionate strategies and measures are implemented. MPA is committed to playing its part in minimising hazards and risks for all road users and our members want to be at the forefront of helping to improve road safety.”

Following the Hyde Park event a host of stakeholders including road safety campaigners, cycling association representatives, Transport for London officials, LGV drivers and Chief Superintendent Scott Wilson from the Metropolitan Police continued on to the House of Commons to discuss cycle safety. Cycling is firmly in the eye of the British Public following extensive 2012 success and the launch of The Times newspaper’s Cities Fit for Cycling campaign which targets overall improvement in urban centres for cyclists and properly illustrates the harrowing situations which can arise when two wheels meet four and should be read by every truck driver and cyclist alike.