British Cycling and other organisations representing cyclists, pedestrians and sustainable transport have today called on the UK Government to back safer lorry design after industry lobbying threatened to delay any changes by up to 10 years.
In a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, the organisations call for an early adoption of measures to allow improvements to cab design, making it easier for lorry drivers to see pedestrians and cyclists.
Last month, the European Parliament voted to make safety a fundamental part of changes to lorry dimensions, allowing extra length to lorry cabs. The next stage is for the Council of Ministers to approve the Directive at its June meeting. However according to the Financial Times, the Swedish and French Governments are seeking a 10 year delay to the introduction of potentially life-saving design improvements, with suggestions that Volvo Trucks and Renault Trucks are concerned at the implementation costs after they recently launched new model ranges.
British Cycling campaigns manager, Martin Key, said:
“HGVs are involved in a large proportion of cycling casualties. Due to design flaws beyond the driver’s control, cyclists are being killed simply because they can’t be seen. The European Parliament were very clear when they voted last month that they wanted these changes to come into force and it is vital that the UK government resists these obvious delaying tactics.
"The proposed new regulations will help save the lives of cyclists, not only in the UK but across Europe and the sooner they are implemented the better.”
The news comes after the fifth cyclist to be killed in London this year died on Tuesday afternoon after being hit by a lorry at the notorious Elephant & Castle junction. In a separate incident later that day a man in his twenties was taken to hospital after an incident with a tipper truck.
The letter also calls on Government to support continued restriction on the international movement of mega-trucks (vehicles measuring up to 25m and weighing up to 60 tonnes). The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to postpone any change to the current position until after a full European Commission report, due in 2016.
Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport said
"The Government must stick to its position that there is no place for mega trucks on UK roads. We urge them not to consider relaxing restrictions on these huge lorries until more detailed work on their impact has been done."
The letter which has also been signed by the CTC, Campaign for Better Transport, Living Streets, London Cycling Campaign, Road Peace, See me Save me and Sustrans can be viewed here.