New lorry scheme marks latest milestone in London cyclist safety campaign
A milestone has been reached in the campaign to cut the number of cyclist deaths on London’s roads.
As from 1 September, all heavy goods vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes must now be fitted with side guards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels, along with specific mirrors that give the driver a better view. Any breach will incur a fine of up to £1,000.
The Safer Lorry Scheme is the latest move in Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London’s commitment to cut the number of those killed or seriously injured on the capital’s streets by more than 40% by 2020.
Behind the scheme lie some depressing statistics: in 2014, a total of 13 London cyclists were killed, and so far this year another eight have already lost their lives. The most common denominator in the majority of cases has been a heavy goods vehicle – they were involved in seven of this year’s fatal collisions and nine of last year’s.
And among those HGVs – and despite accounting for just 4% of the city’s traffic – a disproportionate number have been construction-related which is why Mr Johnson and Transport for London have made the sector a particular focus as part of their wider quest to improve vehicle safety and driver behaviour.
First came FORS – the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme – and although it has always been voluntary, operators working on any TfL project have since 2008 had to be accredited. The scheme was extended beyond London earlier this year, and now 3,250 fleet operators running a total of 215,000 vehicles are accredited.
A bronze-accredited FORS operator has to be legally compliant and able to demonstrate that they follow good practice. For silver, they need to demonstrate a commitment to becoming safer, greener and more efficient, while gold denotes an exceptional operator who has met specific targets and continues to improve. The business benefits of achieving Silver and Gold accreditation are lower costs and higher profits.
Closely linked to FORS is the Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety scheme – CLOCS – which for the past two years has been bringing together developers, fleet operators and vehicle manufacturers with the common purpose of embedding a road safety culture across the industry.
To demonstrate CLOCS adherence, an operator has to be accredited at FORS Bronze level – something Wembley-based McGee has not only achieved but surpassed by achieving Gold accreditation and becoming a CLOCS Champion.
McGee’s CLOCS-branded lorry outside Buckingham Palace ahead of this year’s RideLondon event on 2 August where the Wembley-based operator was taking part in an Exchanging Places event organised by the Metropolitan Police.
Group Transport Manager John Kelly, who manages a fleet of 40 HGVs, said: “Our CLOCS Champion status reflects our long-established commitment to the highest vehicle and driver standards — we have always gone the extra mile to get it right.
“For example, we’re involved in a CLOCS working group focusing on designing the next generation of cabs with improved visibility, and we work closely with the Metropolitan and City of London police forces to increase safety awareness among all vulnerable road users.”
McGee takes a leading role in Exchanging Places, an initiative led by the two forces aimed at giving cyclists and pedestrians a taste of what it’s like to swap roles.
“We have a CLOCS-branded truck and we get them up into the cab so they can understand exactly what a HGV driver can and can’t see — even with the best safety equipment on board,” said Mr Kelly.
“When we show them what happens when they ride up the left hand side of a truck, they’ll say, ‘I didn’t realise they couldn’t see me’, and will go away with extra insights and valuable tips to help stay safe.”
The Company’s involvement in road danger reduction initiatives earned them recognition at the 2015 City of London Considerate Contractor Scheme Awards where McGee won the inaugural Road Danger Reduction Award, presented by the Lord Mayor of London in May this year.
McGee’s drivers also swap roles, spending a day on London’s streets on a bike. “There’s always a bit of resistance at the start, but most also come away chastened and surprised at how vulnerable they feel,” said Mr Kelly. “It’s definitely educational.”
Mr Kelly is confident the Safer Lorry Scheme will help further raise standards, a view echoed by work-related road safety risk management and training provider Road Skills, with which McGee is now working.
Road Skills was one of the first three companies to be made an official FORS associate and has extensive experience of delivering accreditation, guaranteeing companies achieve their FORS accreditation.
Director David Somers said: “The Safer Lorry Scheme will raise awareness for cycle safety amongst all operators — accepting greater responsibility to drive safely will make a real difference.
“This scheme is being enforced by the police and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and there’s nowhere to hide for operators who don’t comply.”
Road Skills and McGee came together at the 2015 CLOCS event at ExCel in February and are now reviewing McGee’s fleet driving policies to take them to the next level.
The next Exchanging Places event, with McGee’s involvement, is on 23 September at Dowgate Fire Station in the City of London between 8am and 10am.