By Laura Laker
A series of measures were announced today to crack down on lorry danger for cyclists and pedestrians in London and across the country.
The news came shortly before a cyclist fatality today in London, where a woman in her 30s died after a collision with a lorry in West Dulwich.
Transport Minister Stephen Hammond joined forces with Boris Johnson and London's Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy to reduce lorry danger, which in Greater London are 5% of traffic and yet responsible for half of cycling fatalities.
A new Industrial HGV task force will take direct action against dangerous drivers, vehicles and operators, along with a nationwide review of HGV regulations and calls for the EU to speed up lorry design reviews, which will help drivers see cyclists. The DfT and the Driving Standards Agency are also calling for a review of evidence around improved driver training.
British Cycling's Policy Director, Martin Gibbs, said this morning: "The Government says it wants more people to use their bikes to get around and to do that it has to take a firm grip of how HGVs use our urban roads. Improving HGV safety on the roads is fundamental to the Government's aim of encouraging more people to use bikes to get around so we are pleased that they and Transport for London are starting to take this matter seriously."
Current safety legislation dictates that most HGVs be fitted with sidebars to protect cyclists and pedestrians from being dragged underneath in a collision. However, some construction and waste-transporting HGVS are exempt from these requirements. Transport for London stipulates all lorries working for city construction projects must be fitted with these sidebars and Stephen Hammond announced today the DfT will review these exemptions nationwide.
Mayor Boris Johnson will also consult Londoners on a hefty "safer lorry charge" on any HGV entering the city which is not fitted with basic safety equipment to protect cyclists.
Johnson said: "I have long been worried that a large number of cyclist deaths involve a relatively small number of problem lorries which are not fitted with safety equipment. In my Cycling Vision in March, I said that no lorry should be allowed in London unless it is fitted with equipment to protect cyclists. After a lot of work behind the scenes, we have today taken the first steps to make this a reality."
Cycling groups have welcomed the measures but want to see action now.
Sustrans' London Director, German Dector-Vega, says: "With the consultation not beginning until 2014, it could be years until this initiative becomes reality - we need urgent action now to prevent further deaths.
"Working with industry, the government should start to investigate banning HGVs in city centres during peak times and on busy cycling routes, as is the norm in places like Germany.
"Like freight and deliveries, cycling is also a vital function of the city but lives are more valuable than any load."
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