Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced moves to fulfil one of his key #signforcycling pledges - to take a bold step towards ending lorry danger by making "Direct Vision" lorries, which are the safest type available, the standard on London's roads.
The Mayor has announced TfL’s Direct Vision Standard, a world first, will use a ‘star rating’ from 0 to 5 stars to rate construction and other heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) based on the level of vision the driver has directly from the cab. Zero-rated lorries (those most commonly used off-road in construction, with the most restricted vision) will be banned from London streets by 2020. And by 2024 only those rated three-star or above would be usable. There are around 35,000 zero-rated lorries operating in London currently, and they were responsible for 70% of cyclist fatalities in the last three years. TfL and the London Assembly will also specify no zero-rated lorries to be used in any work arising from their contracts from next financial year.
"I’m not prepared to stand by and let dangerous lorries continue to cause further heartbreak and tragedy on London’s roads," said Mayor Sadiq Khan. "The evidence is clear – HGVs have been directly involved in over half of cycling fatalities over the last two years, and we must take bold action to make our roads safer for both cyclists and pedestrians."
“Lorries designed in the 1970s and for use in a quarry have no place on the streets of a 21st century city," said Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL.
The London Cycling Campaign welcomes these steps. “Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers and operators of HGVs all stand to gain if modern designs with minimal blind spots become the norm for on-street use – no one wants fatalities and life-changing injuries to continue to happen," said LCC’s Tom Bogdanowicz.
The TfL statistic that 18% of the lorries on London streets are ‘zero rated’ by its new ‘direct vision’ standards, and that those lorries account for 70% of fatal collisions with cyclists, is a grim one. The dominance of lorries with severely restricted vision in casualty statistics is a concern for every Londoner. The data shows 22% of pedestrian fatalities in 2014 and 2015 involved a lorry and 58% of cyclist fatalities involved a lorry, despite lorries only accounting for 4% of London vehicle mileage.
Reducing the number of lorries with significant blind spots, on our narrow urban roads, especially HGVs designed specifically for off-road use, will make streets safer for everyone and needs to happen as fast as possible. LCC is pressing TfL and the Mayor to do even better than the timetable announced, by only procuring grade 5, best-in-class lorries, themselves, for on-street use, by 2024.
The typical replacement cycle for lorries is seven to eight years and operators need to know that if they order replacement vehicles which meet the highest standards, they will have greater opportunities as well as less challenging driving conditions for their drivers. The timing is also excellent for fleet operators who are already looking to replace lorries to match new emission standards.
TfL’s new standard grades lorry direct vision on a scale from zero to five. LCC calls on all operators to use their fleet replacement cycle to convert their fleets to the highest direct vision standard lorries for on-street use, while restricting off-road designs for the on-site use that they are suited for.
London Cycling Campaign provides guidance to cyclists on how to avoid potential collisions with lorries here: http://lcc.org.uk/pages/lorries and of course will continue to campaign for infrastructure and other measures to separate people cycling and lorries, and to end lorry danger throughout London.
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