Friday, 23 October 2015

Our 2015 demands - Reviewing the Mayor's responses

Our 2015 demands are making real progress thanks to all our supporters who have emailed the Mayor and members of the London Assembly in the summer:

This is a sea change in the debate around HGV safety which signals significant political will across the board to address this endemic problem.

While the responses from the Mayor have been positive, they don't include the decisive action we need (yet). However there are signals that significant progress is possible and our campaigning can make that happen.


Rush Hour Lorry Ban


The Mayor says:
I have asked TfL to examine the practicality and potential implications of restricting certain vehicles at certain times as part of its wider freight programme. A full assessment of the implications of any peak time restriction is needed to avoid unintended consequences, such as an increase in vans on the road or an increase in HGVs at other times of the day. 
While it is good this option is being considered, this statement puts the Mayor a long way from implementing any ban.

However, the email also indicates they are looking at ways to remove HGV traffic from cycle routes. This could achieve the same objective - separating HGV traffic from bike traffic to reduce accidents.

The Mayor says the GLA will start using it's planning powers to force construction HGVs to use designated routes & avoid roads with large numbers of cyclists and "Discussions with the London boroughs and the construction industry have already started to ensure that this happens as fast as possible."

The discussions the boroughs may possibly be about existing ‘weight limit enforcement action’ powers which are generally not being enforced. Hackney has successfully been enforcing their ban for a number of years and the City of London are set to start enforcing their central area ban (which includes junctions where HGVs killed cyclists in 2015). As these are existing powers many other boroughs could start implementing these immediately in order to keep cyclists safe this winter. This is an area where pressure from cyclists can make a real difference.

Construction Industry to adopt CLOCS


The Mayor has stated he is working with TfL to encourage companies to adopt CLOCS, which is welcome lacks any requirement for contractors to use this system. They go on to say:
In January the Mayor will consult on requiring further safety modifications including the retrofitting of bigger side windows to further reduce driver blind spots. Bigger side windows, in the lower panel of the cab door, give the driver direct vision of any cyclist who may be alongside them, and can be fitted to most lorries for around £1000. This consultation will be complete and a decision taken before the Mayoral election. In the meantime, as soon as the work can be physically completed, it will be ensured that such windows are fitted to all vehicles undertaking work for TfL, Crossrail, or any other member of the Greater London Authority (GLA) family.

This step towards 'direct-vision' lorries is a very positive sign as 'blind spot minimisation' is one of the measures needed to implement CLOCS. Not only will this make lorries safer, but it is potentially a step towards the roll out of CLOCS in the future and sets a strong precedent for the boroughs.

We need to keep making the case for CLOCS to be adopted by all GLA and borough HGVs to make sure this is adopted as widely as possible.

Confidential reporting of bad practice


The Mayor has responded:

I support any measure that exposes bad practice and increases our understanding of how incidents occur and what needs to be done to prevent future collisions. CIRAS is a whistleblowing scheme widely used in other transport sectors to allow confidential reporting of bad practice by employees, but does not currently cover HGV operations and is not available to members of the public to raise concerns. I have asked TfL to investigate whether CIRAS would provide any additional benefit to the existing range of measures in place to report, investigate and manage bad practice.
It seems clear that CIRAS would contribute to making a much more robust reporting system for bad practice - it is in everyone's interests that potential problems are picked up before they result in tragedy. We will continue to call for for confidential reporting systems as part of improvements to the way TfL identifies and investigates bad practice.

Enforcement

We have recently set up a Freight Compliance Unit (FCU), formed of officers and staff from TfL, the MPS and DVSA and the FCU shares information on operator compliance in order to ensure that enforcement is intelligence led and our efforts are coordinated.
We hope this team will bring new energy to enforcement action in London. This unit will be judged on the number of dangerous lorries taken off the roads, the impact on compliance rates, and the ability to crack down on rogue operators. We will probably need to wait until next year to fully see what the impact of this unit is, but should push for regular status updates before then to ensure it receives the attention it deserves.

The Mayor also says:
I encourage Londoners to report any illegal activity or failure to comply with the law via the RoadSafe London website, which is run by the MPS.
Unfortunately there are many reports suggesting that the RoadSafe website is not always an effective place to report dangerous driving (possibly due to lack of resources and a large number of reports). For alternative places to report bad driving please see this post from the Safer Oxford Street blog.