Thursday 24 September 2020

Plans to tighten truck regulation in pursuit of Boris biking vision

frontpage_mainThe Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has announced plans which could see trucks entering the capital being mandatorily fitted with devices to protect cyclists, restricted to operating at specific times and areas, and driven only by those trained in cycle awareness.

The proposals, which form part of a £913 million plan to boost cycling in the city, are contained in a recently-published document, The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London – An Olympic Legacy for all Londoners.

In it Johnson states: “The main cross-London physical legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games will be a proper network of cycle routes throughout the city, a substantial increase in cycling, and all the benefits – fitness, enjoyment and easy travel for millions, cleaner air and less traffic for all – that will follow.”

Transport for London (TfL), the body which implements and manages the Mayor’s transport strategy, will aim to create two networks of cycling routes – high-capacity Superhighways for fast commuters (one of which is described as a “Crossrail for the bike”), and more leisurely Quietways (“making London cycling calmer, less Darwinian”).

In the process, TfL proposes to create what would in effect be a new and unique set of Construction and Use Regulations for trucks used in the capital.

“No lorry should be allowed in London unless it is fitted with safety equipment to protect cyclists, and driven by someone fully trained in cycle awareness,” the document states.

While many aspects of transport policy in Greater London are devolved to the Mayor and TfL, their powers relate mainly to public transport such as buses, taxis and the London Underground.

In most respects – the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and congestion charge being notable exceptions – they do not have carte blanche to legislate for truck operators, which largely remains the preserve of Westminster and Brussels. However, there is nothing to stop the Mayor asking for extended powers, or petitioning central government to change laws on his behalf.

As such, the Vision document announces the Mayor’s intention to lobby the Department for Transport, UK government and European institutions for changes in the law in several areas: namely, to ensure that guidance exempting vehicles from fitting sideguards, mirrors and other safety devices is more stringent; that all commercial vehicles used in urban areas are designed to give the driver maximum visibility all around the vehicle; and that safety devices designed to reduce collisions with cyclists, such as side cameras and proximity sensors, “are fitted to all new vehicles and retrofitted wherever practical.”

The document also advocates changes to driving tests and Driver CPC.

“We want the government to be more specific on the content of driving tests for all drivers to maximise cycle awareness training,” it says.

“They should also ensure Driver Certificate of Professional Competence training includes a mandatory element addressing cycle safety. Currently there are no definitions as to content of training and our view is very clear: training must include much greater awareness of cyclists and other vulnerable road users as a basic part of the DCPC for any driver in urban areas. The Safe Urban Driving training developed by TfL, with on-bike training for drivers, is a practical example of what good training can look like.”

Meanwhile, the document additionally states that TfL will “work out how we can get HGVs out of traffic at the busiest times of day, when they are most likely to come into conflict with cyclists,” drawing on the policies of cities such as Paris and Dublin, where trucks over a certain size are restricted from certain areas or at particular times.

On top of the additional cost of safety equipment and driver training that fleet operators could incur should the Mayor’s vision be realised, attempts to restrict trucks from accessing London during peak times would be likely to cause some concern for fleets – particularly given the existing constraints imposed by drivers’ hours rules and the difficulty for drivers from ‘out of town’ of taking a rest or break in the capital.

Furthermore, trucks are already restricted from entering London at night, and added limitations would narrow the window during which the capital could be supplied.

Ian Wainwright, TfL’s head of freight and fleet, told Transport Operator: “There are over 280,000 freight journeys carried out in London each day. Transport for London aims to ensure the correct vehicle is used in London at the right time of day and that drivers are trained in safer urban driving.

“Reducing the number of freight vehicles travelling during peak periods by encouraging more out-of-hours deliveries is one option that TfL is looking at with industry representatives as part of a range of activity to reduce the impact of freight on London’s road network.”

Christopher Snelling, head of urban logistics and regional policy at the Freight Transport Association, said: “FTA welcomes the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London – as if it gets motorists who currently drive in London to switch to bikes that would be good news for everyone, but it must be remembered that some users, including freight, have no choice but to use the roads, so enough space must be left so that traffic can still flow, and HGVs can still use the roads safely.

“We were pleased to see that the report reflects the successful work of TfL with the haulage industry and that there are plans to continue the work in encouraging out-of-hours deliveries, as FTA sees this as a key way to improve the use of London’s roads for all types of traffic.“

In order to implement his plans in full, Johnson will need not only to persuade UK and European government of the merits of tighter regulation for trucks and their drivers, but also London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London Corporation – which between them still own the lion’s share of the capital’s road network – as regards the new cycle routes.

Nonetheless, London is regarded by many in the corridors of Whitehall and in local authorities up and down the country as a pioneer in transport policy. Given the keenness of other UK cities to replicate initiatives such as the LEZ, and European policymakers’ emphasis on road safety, should the Mayor’s plans come to fruition it is not unthinkable that they could be replicated on a far wider scale.


  1. Mark Newrick says:

    STOP ALL LGV’s delivering inside the LEZ, see how long Boris and his cronies survive in their precious London without trucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Linda Brown says:

    I do not think that Mr Johnson or his cronies have any idea the impact his ideas have on transport businesses. The LEZ has already put alot of small businesses, who could not afford to change or buy new vehicles, out of business. I thought the whole idea of Mr Cameron’s governement was to help the small businesses, who are the life blood of the British Economy!!! Why on earth does he let his departments keep thinking up new hoops for small business to jump through and that, ok generate more money for the government but the cost to small businesses is more than they can afford. Does he intend to rid this country of small businesses? He is going the right way about doing just that. Why does’nt the man listen to small businesses and direct his departments to do the same, get down on the shop floor and see what it’s really like, don’t leave it all to accounts and desk jockeys who have no idea of how these changes impact on the small businesses both in time and money. Start making life easier for SME’s and stop grinding us into the ground!

    • david hawkins says:

      I note in the picture the rider is wearing a H’vis tabard. Not may riders do!
      Question; why do many riders mainly on sports and other bikes wear all black? how do they expect to be seen. I ride a bike and drive HGV’s so I know the dangers. Many riders dart in and out of the traffic so fast that there is no chance to avoid them. Say something and you usually get a blast of foul words directed back at you. Safety starts with the rider and driver.
      One thig is for sure, if a driver knocks a rider he or she will automatically be blamed by the authorities/courts.
      * Boris should be running this campain to riders, not automatically targeting HGV’s and other drivers.
      Riders on pavements is another major problem in my area. Riding way too fast weaving in and out of pedesdrians on the Kew bridge pavement, although allowed. We’ve already had one fatality in Richmond through this problem. Once again just get sworn at if challenged.

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