Unfortunately, when cyclists and lorries come into close proximity on the road, the result is too often a serious or even fatal accident. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), there were 271 collisions between trucks and cyclists in 2016 resulting in 16 riders being killed and 56 seriously injured. Although only 1.5% of cyclist casualties occurred in collisions with lorries, RoSPA highlights, this resulted in 16% of cyclist deaths. The problem is especially acute in inner London where, over the past three years, trucks were involved in over 70% of cyclist fatalities, despite only making up 4% of road miles in the capital. Paul Clarke looks at the latest initiatives aimed at reducing this level of serious accidents and, specifically, at the organisations involved.
Aiming for zero collisions between construction vehicles and others on the nation’s roads, the Construction Logistics and Community Safety (CLOCS) Standard applies to all commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight. It aims to create a level commercial environment for vehicle operators where investment in a safe, quality operation is recognised when bidding for work. For a fleet operator to become a CLOCS Champion, it needs to have:
at least 20% of its operating centres being consistently compliant to the CLOCS Standard
a clear plan to get the majority of its operating centres to be CLOCS compliant within two years
a clear plan to encourage other organisations to adopt the CLOCS Standard.
The CLOCS Standard was developed by Transport for London (TfL) in response to research that showed that construction vehicles were responsible for a disproportionately high number (35%) of cyclists and pedestrian fatalities involving trucks in London. In October 2017, The Crown Estate became the 500th CLOCS Champion.
The CLOCS scheme is to publish a new Standard in December 2018. There are likely to be amendments concerning vehicle requirements, with details of vehicle compliance being removed from the CLOCS Standard and reference made instead to the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) Silver Standard. To comply with the CLOCS Standard, fleet operators will need to demonstrate that they meet all the requirements described in the FORS Silver Standard and to provide independent accreditation acceptable to their client.
TfL launched FORS in April 2008 to improve road safety and help reduce the wider environmental and traffic impacts of freight and fleet operations. FORS accreditation is underpinned by a fleet quality standard, against which operators are audited. Accredited operators demonstrate a commitment to managing road risk, reducing environmental impact and improving operational efficiency. In January 2015, TfL chose AECOM as the concessionaire to take over the management and operation of FORS until 2020, with the option of a two-year extension to 2022. TfL said that it would retain an integral role in the scheme as the industry-led accreditation scheme went national.
Setting the standard
At the end of October 2018, the Department for Transport (DfT) published the National Standard for Cycle Training to encourage better-shared road use. This adds to its existing set of national standards for driving, riding and cycling — covering car and light van, moped and motorcycle, lorry, bus and coach, and driver and rider training. The new standard is a comprehensive guide to cycling. It provides valuable information for cyclists — including how best to prepare for a journey and to ride safely, as well as a specific unit on how to deliver cycle training. It also acts as the basis for Bikeability (the Government’s cycle training programme based on the “National Standard”) and a range of adult cycle training programmes. See GOV.UK website for more details.
Between March and June 2018, the DfT issued a call for evidence on ways to make cycling and walking safer. It invited those with an interest in improving safety of cyclists and pedestrians to provide evidence, drawing on experience from the UK or other countries, that can be used to shape future policy decisions in this area. “The Government wants walking and cycling to be a normal part of everyday life, and the natural choices for shorter journeys — such as going to school, college or work, travelling to the station, and for simple enjoyment,” it said. “However, in 2016, a total of 550 pedestrians and cyclists were killed on Britain’s roads, making up nearly one-third of all fatalities.”
Building materials supplier CEMEX UK has run a number of cyclist-safety campaigns and claims to have taken its message to over 7000 cyclists in the 10 years since a haulage contractor’s concrete mixer truck was involved in a fatal accident with a female cyclist and sparked off its work in this field. Working with experts and industry bodies, as well as cycling groups and local authorities, CEMEX aims to raise awareness about the dangers surrounding large goods vehicles through public events. It is also involved in enhanced driver training and engagement and in the development of vehicle specification and technology.
London Freight Enforcement Partnership
As already mentioned, London is the location of a disproportionate number of accidents involving bikes and trucks and several schemes and initiatives have been set up in the capital to try to improve this record. Three years since it was established, the London Freight Enforcement Partnership (LFEP) is working towards its target of eliminating death and serious injuries from London’s roads by 2041. It has said that it remains determined to rid London of dangerous freight operators who “flout the rules and have no regard for safety”. LFEP is a joint partnership between TfL, City of London Police, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Metropolitan Police Service.
Since it was launched, Partnership members have carried out checks on more than 33,000 vehicles in the capital in an effort to raise compliance standards across the freight industry.
Mayor of London
While his predecessor was noted for his own cycling, and for introducing “Boris Bikes” on to the streets of the capital, the present incumbent, Sadiq Khan, has more of a focus on safety. From 2020, the operators of any truck in London that fails to meet the lowest “one star” rating under the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) system he is introducing will be required to obtain a safety permit under a Safe System scheme. Every truck model over 12 tonnes which qualifies for the Euro VI emissions standard has now been allocated a star rating by TfL — to indicate the standard of visibility from the driver’s seat. In order to comply with the standard, it is likely that about half of the lorries entering London will need to be fitted with equipment such as camera systems, audible turn warnings and side sensors with driver alerts.
Any such vehicle entering the city without a permit will attract a fine of £550, with the driver receiving a personal fine of £150. Information from TfL about the DVS can be found at tfl.gov.uk.
The Mayor is not alone in backing DVS: Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are trying to persuade the European Commission to incorporate minimum standards for direct vision systems into planned legislation. Adopting a recent report on car safety in the EU, they emphasised that measures to increase the direct vision of the driver in lorries, buses and coaches, and reducing or eliminating blind spots, are vital for improving the road safety of such vehicles. They therefore want the Commission to mandate what they term “ambitious differentiated Direct Vision Standards” and to make it compulsory to install front, side and rear cameras, sensors and turning assistant systems.
That proposal is still under consideration but already adopted in Directive 2018/645/EU which amends Directive 2003/59/EC on the training of drivers and Directive 2006/126/EC on driving licences. Available at eur-lex.europa.eu, and due to come into force in the Member States in May 2020, the new directive requires subjects relating to road safety to be strengthened in driver training courses, including:
the protection of vulnerable road users, in particular pedestrians, cyclists and persons with limited mobility
driving in extreme weather conditions and carrying abnormal loads.
Another organisation trying to improve the situation in London, the Metropolitan Police (Met Police) recently decided that letting cyclists see the road from the cab of a lorry would show them how difficult it can be to see someone riding close to such a large vehicle. Using virtual reality (VR) technology, the initiative can effectively put someone inside a lorry cab and clearly demonstrate how restricted a driver’s view of passing cyclists can be. The 360-degree video was used as part of the Met Police’s “Exchanging Places” programme, which addresses the most common cause of serious injury and death to cyclists — collisions involving trucks.
A series of roadshows was used to promote the VR experience to members of the public in central London. Although they have now ended, anyone wishing to suggest further sessions is invited to email the Met Police at email@example.com.