Department for Transport plans to allow longer length lorries on the roads were pushed through in trial form yesterday, despite strong objections and the acknowledgement of greater risks to vulnerable road users.
The CTC, which rallied over 1,300 of its members to write to their MPs voicing concerns, has now slammed the transport body for ignoring its responsibilities to cyclists, among other road users.
During its first year, the trial could see 1,800 of the larger vehicles on the roads of the UK. The DfT’s own analysis found that the threat from certain slow manoeuvres could increase by as much as 9%. Cyclists are particularly at risk from lorries, particularly in incidents where slow manoeuvres are taking place: during the period 2005 to 2009, these manoeuvres accounted for 40 per cent of the crashes involving an articulated lorry and a cyclist where the cyclist was killed.
The Minister, Mike Penning MP, in his statement to the House of Commons suggested that a partial mitigation might lie in “the effectiveness of additional vision/sensor/safety systems fitted to improve detection of vulnerable road users. Yet the Minister has so far rebutted efforts to introduce such safety systems and his Department has failed to answer a Coroner’s report from earlier this year demanding a review into these systems and a plan for their installation.
The CTC’s campaigns director Roger Geffen said: “If the Minister was serious about cycle safety he wouldn’t allow this trial to go ahead but would ensure that the existing lorry fleet – which already poses a considerable threat to cycle safety – is equipped and their drivers sufficiently trained to share roads with cyclists safely. The Department must ensure that the trial is not simply the thin end of the wedge: we need a proper assessment of the risks to road users and road infrastructure."