In an announcement to cycling and haulage experts, Boris Johnson, today, unveiled plans to improve the safety of cyclists in the capital city – but Thompsons Solicitors believes the speech lacked the content and commitment needed to create the “cycling revolution” he proposes.
In addition to toughening up safety standards for heavy goods vehicles, the Mayor of London promised two ‘Crossrail’ cycle routes and a network of back routes so cyclists could avoid lorries. He also pledged to make 33 of London’s most dangerous junctions safer for cyclists.
The Work Related Road Risk (WRRR) Standards for Construction Logistics, a nationally recognised standard for construction-related road safety launched earlier this month, has been created in recognition of the threat to cyclists from heavy goods vehicles, and several major construction organisations have signed up from the start.
Between 2008 and 2012, 53 per cent of cycling fatalities involved a vehicle over 3.5 tonnes although vehicles of that size represented just four per cent of road miles travelled.
WRRR standards will apply where the site is operated by a construction company that has signed up to the standard and then to all commercial vehicles delivering to, collecting from or servicing that project, premise or property.
The move comes just a week after Thompsons Solicitors set out its own measures to protect Britain’s cyclists, publishing six recommendations in its Transport Committee cycling consultation, including a proposal that all bus and lorry drivers should have first-hand experience of cycling in road conditions, which would become standardised as part of the driving test.
David Robinson is a serious injury solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, and chair of RoadPeace North East; a branch of the national charity campaigning for better road safety.
He said: “Boris’ speech today was underwhelming and his attempts to stress that cycling in London is getting safer despite the recent spate of fatalities on the capital’s roads will only add to the grief of victims’ families.
“For the loved ones of every cyclist the new standards are welcome albeit belated news, but will only really have an impact if: they apply across the UK wherever there is anyone on two wheels sharing the road with a driver protected by several tons of steel; there is large-scale construction company sign-up; all sides of industry including ministers engage in full and ongoing co-operation; those who don’t sign up become industry pariahs and; there are meaningful sanctions against companies who fail to comply.
“Words will not protect pedestrians and cyclists. This must only be the start of a long-term commitment to change if we are to witness real and lasting improvements in road safety.”
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