Archives For HGV

Turning the corner

December 9, 2016 — Leave a comment

British Cycling launched the campaign #TurningTheCorner. A campaign to simplify the rules around turning at junctions, to make it safe for cyclists and pedestrians and to reduce casualties.

I can’t fault the idea of making the roads safer. I’m 100% behind that. However I am concerned with how this is actually going to be implemented. If we look at countries which already have such rules in place, they usually A. have better infrastructure. B. the rules have been established for a while C. More people cycle, more people know people who cycle and generally cycling is more accepted, as such people are more aware.

I can just see now a stream of cyclists going northbound on CS7 past Clapham Common on approach to Rookery Road and a vehicle waiting to turn left, they will be there for one hell of a time. Approach speeds can easily be greater than 20mph and I would struggle to trust a driver to not turn across the path of the cyclists.

And I have many more examples of exactly the same at this junction.

We have a real life example of how a change to the road can fix this. A few years ago I witnessed a truck overtaking a cyclist at Oval and turning left across her, it very nearly resulted in her going under the wheels of said truck. Read about that case.

The junction as it used to be, cyclists going straight had to share a lane with motorists turning left.

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-22-37-59

The junction now is very different, cyclists are separated from motor traffic and turning cars have a different phase of light.

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-22-37-24

 

One way the dutch do it (when space is available) is fantastic. The turning traffic is 90 degrees to the cyclists, and as such do not need to rely on their mirrors to see cyclists, they look out their side windows and windscreen. Cyclists in this situation have priority and cars can only go when it is clear for them to do so.

To summarise. Changes need to be made, and London has been making some fantastic changes recently that has resulted in an increase in people cycling. But we need to improve the areas that don’t have such facilities and the rest of the country. I know that personally I would be cautious of passing a left indicating vehicle on the left, even if the law states that they must wait for me to pass.

Rapid Ready Mix

October 26, 2011 — 3 Comments

I uploaded a video a few weeks ago of a large cement mixer not driving perfectly on the road. Minor stuff including encroaching into an ASL and overtaking and pulling in just before some stopped cars.

Like I said, nothing major, but I uploaded it and forwarded it onto the Police so they could get in contact with the company and sort out this behaviour before someone gets hurt. I was going to forward it onto the company as well but didn’t get around to it.

Before I could contact the company I got a message from a subscriber on youtube, I’ll call him Mark, Mark had been in contact with the company and got an interesting reply.

I appreciate your concern but unfortunately I don’t think it was as dangerous as you’re making out. I would appreciate if “gaz545” could get in the bike lane rather than cycling on the line!

The reply came from someone who I shall name Paul, Mark replied to Paul and quickly set him straight on a few things, including positioning and the legal side of the ASL.
I also contacted Paul and wrote the following

Your comment to Mark, ‘I would appreciate if “gaz545” could get in the bike lane rather than cycling on the line!’.
Quite obviously you are not aware on how bicycle lanes function or the requirements of cyclists to use them. There is in fact no legal requirement for cyclists to use any cycle lane that is provided for them and we are often advised not to cycle in them because they are poorly designed, not wide enough and are often filled with glass and other sharp objects such as stones.

Whilst you would appreciate that I should stay in the bike lane, i believe it is fair for me to expect Rapid Ready Mix vehicles to drive safely around vulnerable users and in general on the road.
Your driver clearly broke the law when he crossed the first solid white line at the traffic lights, that is known as red light jumping, something which people often complain cyclists of doing but your driver is no better.
By also stopping in the advanced stop zone ( the big blue area with the bicycle logo in it) he put me and several other cyclists in his blind spot, whilst I can see that your vehicles are kitted out with all the required mirrors, that does not mean that your drivers uses them or that they are aware of any vulnerable road users to their left. I’m sure you can appreciate that not every cyclists is sensible and sometimes they put them selves in unnecessary positions which leave them in a position of danger.

His second action of cutting in front of me wasn’t as bad as i was first expecting but the principle of the manoeuvre is still dangerous. Overtaking cyclists, pull in front of them and then stop, very dangerous is it not? How would you feel if a driver on the motorway pulled in front of you and started braking? Would you think it was dangerous?
At first i thought he would be coming all the way across and this is where the issue is, not all cyclists would read this situation or simply wouldn’t care and would continue on their way up the left hand side whilst your lorry is turning in, this can often lead to cyclists being squashed under large vehicles and is a killer on London’s streets.

I would expect more from a professional driver, he got no further than if he waited safely behind in each case.

 

Neither my self or Mark got any more responses from Paul. Not what I was expecting but a later found out that the Police had sent the company a letter about the driving and giving them some advise about what they should be doing.
I guess that Paul heard about this in the office and decided that he was better off not replying to those who have the law behind them.

FTA Cycling Code

June 27, 2011 — 2 Comments

The Freight Transport Associate recently released a Cycling Code. It’s aim is to improve the safety of cyclists on the roads and reduce collisions between commercial vehicles and cyclists.

The code is well worth reading, and can be done so here.
Here are a few interesting tips for cyclists and drivers take from the code.

Top tips for cyclists

1 Know the law and observe it
The law is clear that as road users, cyclists are bound by all the same rules as motorised vehicles.Whether this relates to alcohol, roadworthiness or traffic signals, failure to observe the law puts both cyclists and other road users in harm’s way.

2 Leave that lorry alone
Never undertake a lorry on the left, especially if you are at a junction. Don’t do this even if there is a cycle lane. Remember if you cycle on the left-hand side of a lorry you are in the driver’s blind spot and if the lorry turns, you will have no escape. It is difficult for drivers of large vehicles to see you, so don’t hide by the side of the vehicle.

3 Make eye contact
Make eye contact with other road users, particularly at a junction, coming out of side roads and at roundabouts; this may tell you if the driver has seen you or not.

4 Look behind you
Regularly look over your shoulders to see what is happening all around you. Check behind you when moving away from the kerb, before you signal to manoeuvre and at regular intervals to communicate with other road users.

5 Look ahead
Look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, potholes and parked vehicles, so that you do not have to swerve suddenly to avoid them. Planning ahead helps you to be pre- pared for junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights.

6 Ride on the road, not the gutter!
Your road position should not be less than one metre from the kerb and should be further out if it is not safe for a vehicle to pass. If someone does pass you inconsiderately then you have more room to get out of harm’s way. Keeping away from the gutter will enable drivers to see you and also help you miss the drain covers and debris on the side of the road too.Take extra care to hold your position near road humps and other traffic- calming features.

7 Don’t be floored by car doors
Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened into your path.

8 Make your intentions clear
Make your signal and manoeuvre well in advance, and only when it is safe to do so. Keep your position in your lane so vehicles cannot undertake closely on your left.

9 Cover your brakes
Keep your hands on your brake levers, so that you are ready to use them.Always use both brakes at the same time.Take extra care when it is wet or icy.

10 Lights
By law, when it is dark or there is bad visibility you must have lights on the front and rear of your bike.Always carry spare small lights in case your main lights are not working.

11 Cycle training
If you are a beginner or even if you are an experienced cyclist, you can benefit from an adult cycle training session. Find out more about cycling safely in today’s road conditions by contact- ing your local instructor at www.ctc.org.uk/instructors.

12 Be seen
Make sure you wear hi-visibility clothing, especially when the light is poor. Remember – bright, light clothes in daytime and reflec- tive material at night.

13 Stay sober
Don’t ride when you’ve had drink or drugs. Riding a bike under the influence of alcohol or drugs is just as serious and dangerous as if you were driving a car.

14 Listen
Make sure you can hear the traffic around you – don’t listen to music. Many vehicles have warnings to tell you they’re turning left – you won’t hear them if you’re plugged in.

15 Remember that large vehicles move to the right before turning left

Top tips for drivers

1 Respect other road users
Remember that cyclists are road users too and have the same rights as motorised vehicles. Make sure you know the speed limits and observe them – remember that the correct speed may be much lower than the legal limit.

2 Always check the field of view of your mirrors as part of the daily walk around check, or if the mirrors are dislodged during the shift Vehicles now have many mirrors and it is easy for these to be dislodged. Consider using floor mats to map out the correct area that mirrors should be covering – paint them at the exit gate.

3 ‘Give a metre’ or hold back until there’s room
Many roads have too little space for cyclists and hgvs at the same time. If an hgv cannot give a cyclist at least a metre’s clearance then they should hold back. Drivers should bear in mind that cyclists are trained not to ride too close to the kerb.The Highway Code advises that you should give at least as much room as when overtaking a car.

4 Plan journeys to avoid cycle superhighways at peak times
The cycle superhighways are intended to show cyclists – both regular and occasional – how best to get from the suburbs into central London and back. Drivers should be aware that where they see the blue cycle superhighway path there are likely to be more cyclists than normal – where possible drivers should avoid these routes at peak times, ie between 07:00 and 09:00 and between 16:00 and 18:00. Operators should work with their customers to develop delivery and serving plans or construction logistics plans to minimise peak-time journeys.

5 Look over the dash
There have been fatalities that arose because the cyclist wrongly assumed that the driver had seen them. Drivers should always take a moment to look to the front of the vehicle, even if they have a class VI mirror.

6 Concentrate
Drivers – focus on driving – do not use hand-held phones and minimise use of hands-free equipment.

7 Always indicate
Always use your indicators even if you don’t think there’s anyone there and indicate early, ie when cyclists are still behind you and most able to see your indicators.

Certainly some good pointers there for all road users. But will this code affect how safe the roads are? Who knows, at present it’s only a document.

As I was cycling home the other day, I was looking at how other cyclists use the ASLs and filter lanes. Do they help us in situations where there are vehicles waiting at the lights.

The ASL is meant to provide cyclists with the space to take a controlling position in the lane and be in a position where they can easily be seen by the driver behind them. Providing them with safety whilst they set off .
But there are several issues with this;

  • There are often other vehicles in the ASL
  • Most of the time there is only one legal way to enter the ASL
  • The filter lane is often on the left of vehicles
  • The filter lanes can often be blocked
  • Most cyclists don’t understand where you should position your self

The first 4 points are self-explanatory but what do I mean by cyclists don’t understand where to position themselves? As I said further up, the whole point of the ASL is to let cyclists position themselves in a position where they are in control of their lane as they set off and they are in a position to be seen. I see far to many cyclists that use the filter lane and ASL to get in front of the traffic but then stop on the left by the pavement. This means you can get the usual close pass when you start again.

I also see issues when using the ASLs on the Cycle Superhighways. The amount of cyclists that you can have around you whilst you are commuting is approaching 40. Even with half that number you will have issues as people don’t use the whole length and width of the ASL. If you get 2 or 3 that stop on the left then the entry to the rest of the ASL will be blocked and lots of cyclists are stuck next to vehicles, which is the worst place to be when setting off in traffic.

The ASL has one major flaw, have a look at this image and see if you can see it.
The blind spot of the lorry is highlighted in black and that shape looks a lot like an ASL and feeder lane.

The ASL should be avoided if there is a large vehicle at the front of the queue!

I’ve had a few problems recently where I need to hold a primary position for quite some time after the ASL. This can often anger drivers, even when you are going near 30mph! And it can result in a dangerous situation.

In some cases I will filter to a point where I can fit into to traffic, several cars from the front. This will mean that I can take control of the lane, get through on the next phase and it will be easier to prevent an overtake from the behind vehicle if I keep up with the vehicle in front.

It is certainly possible to live without the ASL and I think in some cases it is a cause for concern as many cyclists have the ‘must get in front’ mentality, putting them selves in a dangerous situation because the lights have changed or because they stop somewhere they shouldn’t.

What do you think about ASLs?

No More Lethal Lorries!

March 29, 2011 — 6 Comments

Today, the 30th of March, is the day of action in London to try to get rid of lethal lorries from London’s streets. This date has been in place for several months and it is unfortunate that in the past week 2 cyclists and a pedestrian have been killed by such lorries on London’s roads.

All cyclists should sign the petition from the LCC to help get rid of these lethal lorries. But it may not get rid of these lorries so easily. The 5 point plan includes the following

  1. Cyclist-awareness training for drivers – All city lorry drivers should be having ongoing cycle-awareness training, including on-bike experience.
  2. Drivers must take more responsibility – Authorities must recognise driver responsibility for doing everything practical to reduce risks. Blaming a ‘blind spot’ should be an admission of guilt.
  3. Safer design for London lorries – Lorries designed for off-road use should be taken off city streets. The best mirrors, cameras and sensors should be fitted as standard.
  4. Higher standards from lorry operators – Quality-assurance schemes such as London’s Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) should be mandatory and the police encouraged to crack down on rogue operators.
  5. More responsible procurement – Companies must only buy haulage services from reputable firms, with government taking a lead in encouraging best practice.

The plan looks strong but I’m sure that many of us will be disappointed to see that there isn’t a proposal to remove the lorries full stop. This does not address the problem of the lorries being too big for our London streets and posing a danger to all cyclists on the road.

This image shows a rough area that is a blind spot for lorry drivers, now take a look at the image below which also shows the blind spot of a lorry. Does it look like a common cycling facility to you?

It looks an awful lot like the shape of an ASL with a feeder lane. Popular cycling facilities at junctions in London. These junctions are putting cyclists at risk daily!

Something needs to be done about this situation that we face! It is not just an issue in London, cyclists everywhere face the issue of HGV’s on a daily basis, lets hope that the right decision is made here and that it affects everywhere else shortly after.

I urge all of you to sign the petition, it takes only a few moments of your time but could help to safe a lot of people’s lives!

EDIT: Oh bummer, this went live a bit earlier than I was expecting!