No More Lethal Lorries!

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!

Vauxhall Bridge Cycle Lanes

View along Vauxhall bridge, London. Taken from...
Image via Wikipedia

A while ago I posted a video that showed just how dangerous the cycle lane on the southbound side of the bridge is. It’s very narrow and even the average sized car will pass you far too close, just imagine if a coach or bus passes you.

I use Vauxhall Bridge daily to get to and from work. Traveling on it north bound is perfectly fine. There is a lovely bus lane on the left hand side, you will only encounter a bus if you use the cycling short cut through the gyratory.

Taking the Bridge south bound on the other hand is a totally different story. The cycle lane runs the full length of the bridge and is very narrow for the full duration.  There is a bus lane that runs the full length of the bridge but due to the busses needing to enter the bus station inside the gyratory, its position is on the right hand side. I’ve used it a few times, but due to its position and the lack of cleaning, it’s full of stones and pot holes.
This means that to travel across the bridge in safety, you must take control of the left lane and keep up a good speed, the traffic behind you will try to reach/break 30mph. So it’s important that you get up to speed and control it. I’ve had a few close calls doing this but most of the time it’s not an issue and is much safer than taking to the cycle lane.

It’s not just this cycle lane that is a problem, many of the cycle lanes in Pimlico are of poor quality, and on the 22nd of may 2010, a cyclist was killed by a HGV whilst cycling in near one of these cycle lanes just north of vauxhall bridge.
The LCC reported on the issue of the cycle lanes in the area  and their communications officer, Mike Cavenett, has said

This cycle lane is so narrow it was almost not possible to put a bicycle logo on it.

It’s a facility that says to drivers that bikes should be in the gutter, and encourages cyclists to ride in a position that National Standards Training says is unsafe.

It’s not known whether this lane contributed to Mr Smith’s death, but something clearly needs to be done about these potentially lethal facilities.

Many cycle lanes across the UK are of poor quality and they put the people who use them at risk daily. Motorists fail to understand the needs of cyclists and we are often put in danger because they wish to get slightly further up the road.
Without knowledge, cyclists do not know what cycle lane is good and which is bad, Until we remove the cycle lanes or better educate the cyclists, we will continue to see close calls and read about deaths due to the poor infrastructure that is provided for us at the side of the road.