Lorry 'blind-spot' demo in Trafalgar Square
27.06.07 by Buffalo Bill
Back to the serious stuff. TfL’s Freight Unit, which has responsibility for promoting ‘best practice’ amongst road hauliers (people using lorries to move stuff around) in London promoted an awareness raising event over the last 2 days in Trafalgar Square. Members of the Met Police’s Commercial Vehicle Education Unit were there, along with two lorries (aka Heavy Goods Vehicle aka Large Goods Vehicles), one of which was an articulated lorry, one of which was a conventional lorry. Neither resembled the ‘tipper’ lorries that seem to be involved in so many fatal collisions in London.
PC Henderson told me that ‘it was a safety message, not a PR stunt’. The purpose was to demonstrate to cyclists the limits of the direct and indirect vision that drivers have when sat behind the wheel of the cab. The first part was a walk-round by the cyclist, followed by a session at the wheel whilst the same walk-round was done by a PC with a bicycle. I learned nothing new. Vision on the left-hand side of a lorry is limited and indirect, that is, only available via the mirrors. The lorry I sat in had the 2 conventional mirrors, plus the new ‘proximity’ or ‘curb’ mirror, which shows the area right alongside the driver’s cab.
I say I learnt nothing new, but I didn’t. Once again, I saw that the left-hand side of a lorry is no place for a cyclist. But more than that, I saw that the Advanced Stop Line (ASL), the green cyclist’s box often found at traffic lights in London, is also no place for a cyclist. In front of, and to the left of a lorry, is very difficult for a driver to see into. Even with the extra 4th mirror fitted to the the artic, the driver’s vision is restricted. It is this 4th mirror that is currently being considered by the EU. It seems pretty obvious that it should be made compulsory for new lorries, and retro-fitted.
This makes most of the existing London Cycle Network look like a death-trap for cyclists, encouraging them, as it does, to ride up the left of lorries and stop just in front of them. Thus it is that one part of TfL, Streets, is encouraging cyclists to do one thing, and another, the Freight Unit, is telling them to not to do it.
Can we have this absurd situation resolved, please, Ken?
Positive, in my view: the involvement of the Police Commercial Vehicle Education Unit. They have videoed the event, and will be using it to educate drivers and operators about cyclists, and LGV drivers and operators responsibility for our safety.
Also positive: that two operators were willing to donate a vehicle and a driver for the event.
For more on the continuing problem of cyclists being killed in London by lorries (or Large Goods Vehicles or Heavy Goods Vehicles), see the contents page and click the HGV button.