A public consultation on plans for the requirement of lorries in London to fit extra mirrors and side guards to try and reduce the number of accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians has been slammed by the Freight Transport Association as a "missed opportunity".
London Councils is asking boroughs, hauliers, cycling organisations, residents and other interested parties for their views about potentially changing the permission conditions of the London Lorry Control Scheme, to require heavy goods vehicles to fit side guards and extra mirrors to help improve cycle safety
The London Lorry Control Scheme is managed by London Councils on behalf of the 33 London local authorities and Transport for London. The scheme works by restricting the movement of HGVs over 18 tonnes in London between 9pm and 7am on weekdays and between 1pm on Saturdays and 7am on Mondays.
During these times lorries are restricted to a limited ‘excluded route network’ unless they have been granted specific permission to use other roads. The London Lorry Control Scheme balances the need of Londoners to get a good night’s sleep with those of the freight industry to make deliveries. There are currently 56,000 permit holders.
EU and UK legislation requires most HGVs to have side guards and close proximity mirrors fitted. However, many vehicle types including construction vehicles, tipper trucks, cement mixers and waste vehicles are exempted from these requirements.
Although the London Lorry Control Scheme only operates overnight and at weekends, if it was used to implement additional safety measures, the impact of this would be far greater as the lorries are used at other times too.
Christopher Snelling, FTA’s Head of Urban Logistics and Regional Policy, said:
"FTA takes the view that adding additional requirements to vehicles delivering at night is not the appropriate way to improve safety for cyclists in the Capital. Instead London Councils, and the boroughs it consists of, should have looked at updating the Control Scheme, and planning and environmental health requirements, in order to allow quiet deliveries out-of-hours. This would enable as many lorries as possible to operate outside the peak hours when most cyclists are on the roads.
"This is an example of regulatory creep. A scheme introduced to deal with one issue – noise – is now being used to deal with another – safety. Transport for London still intends to regulate in this area and the Department for Transport is also reviewing requirements. How many bodies need to regulate on one issue?
"The way to improve safety is to take intelligent, targeted measures that can reduce the number of incidents and their severity. For HGVs, this means focusing on low quality operators who fail to follow current legal safety requirements."
FTA reiterated its support for the recent increased enforcement effort against targeted, "high-risk HGVs" by the Metropolitan Police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency on London’s streets.
Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, Councillor Catherine West said: "The tragic number of cyclist fatalities in London recently has heightened concerns about cycle safety, particularly the risk of collisions with larger vehicles. Te proposal to amend the Lorry Control Scheme permit conditions is a positive action London Councils can take forward quickly to help tackle this problem.
"I would encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation and let us have their views on whether they think extra cycle safety measures should be imposed on lorries traveling through London."
The results of the consultation are due to be considered by London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee at its meeting on 13 March.