It’s not for want of trying that the London Heavy Goods Vehicle problem isn’t going away. Everything from critical mass gatherings to Lorries fitted with extra mirrors is being tried and tested. Unfortunately the number of incidents doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Perhaps the solution we are seeking is there and waiting to be given the go ahead.
When I met with David Dansky from Cycle Training UK last week we got a chance to talk about the work they are doing in Lambeth. What I heard sounded very promising. At least if the initial success is anything to go by.
With more than half of all cycle fatalities on London roads involving a collision with a goods vehicle, Lambeth council approached Cycle Training UK to create an awareness course for HGV drivers. There was also an awareness course created for cyclists where they are encouraged to take further training.
The course for the drivers begins by asking the drivers about any incidents they have had with cyclists. This invariably leads to plenty of “why do they jump red lights” discussions. They are then asked what sort of behaviour they would like to see from cyclists. The question is then reversed and they are asked what they think cyclists would like to see from HGV drivers. It is usually at this point when drivers begin to understand the difficulties we cyclists face on the roads and how standing next to a 7.5 tonne vehicle can be off-putting. The drivers are also given basic level training on bikes.
After the driver awareness course is over there is a complete reversal in attitude. It changes from anger and wanting to get cyclists off the road to a far more sympathetic position with understanding and awareness of the dangers cyclists face. This translates to more courtesy on the roads and of course safer conditions for everyone.
The initial feedback from the drivers and their companies has been very positive. Transportation companies such as Veolia have praised the scheme and continue to use it. Lambeth council has been extremely supportive and they have made it compulsory for all their drivers. Camden council are also getting on board.
This council funded scheme could be the solution everyone is desperately searching for. Whilst statistical evidence is still unfortunately lacking due to the fact it has been running for less than a year all the signs are looking good. Cycle Training UK are now looking to expand the scheme and roll it out across more London boroughs. For that they will be needing the support of TfL.