This month (9 December) saw the launch of a unified construction vehicle standard at a high-profile event in London, which will likely have lasting implications for the national road haulage sector and it relationship with vulnerable road users.
Launching the Construction Logistics and Cyclist Safety (CLOCS) Standard for construction logistics: Managing work related road risk at City Hall, London major Boris Johnson pledged that the capital's "cycling revolution" would continue."Cycling in London is getting safer," he asserted.
The mayor is under intense pressure to act after a spate of six cyclist fatalities involving trucks or buses in November brought the total to 14, the same as the whole of 2012.
"We are working very hard to drive up safety standards," said Johnson. "Trucks will have to fit sidebars and audible and visual warnings – all the things that are commonsensical to reduce accidents."
A taskforce has been set up to target the seriously non-compliant operators and in the New Year the mayor will consult on his proposal for a Safer Lorry Charge to be levied on any LGV that is not fitted with basic safety equipment to protect cyclists entering London.
But Johnson turned down calls for LGVs to be banned in rush hour.
The cycle superhighway network will be expanded with a new east-west route between the City and Ealing and a network of ‘quiet ways’ – back streets with green cycle lanes following tube lines – being rolled out. "Cyclists will be segregated where possible but we can’t do that everywhere," said Johnson.
Hendy pays tribute to hauliers
Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Sir Peter Hendy paid tribute to the construction and logistics sectors for "getting onboard" with efforts to reduce casualties, acknowledging the contribution of trade associations including the Road Haulage Association, Freight Transport Assocation and Mineral Products Association (MPA) to the CLOCS process.
TfL commissioned a report in February looking at why construction vehicles were involved in a disproportionately high number of fatal or serious accidents involving cyclists, and in May a series of working parties came together to draft the CLOCS standard."The progress you have made shows how seriously you are taking ownership of road as well as site safety," said Hendy.
Hendy commended the CLOCS standard, which he said replaced 11 different specifications for construction vehicles entering various clients’ London sites.
Highlighting the proliferation of different standards London hauliers have to comply with, Jason Millett, chief operating officer for major projects at Mace, said the firm had made achieving the bronze standard of the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (Fors) compulsory in July, and had planned to upgrade this to silver standard in January 2014.
"We will have to re-engage with suppliers and tell them we are now moving to this new [CLOCS] standard," Millett said.
Mark Starosolsky, logistics leader at Laing O’Rourke, said his company fitted the full range of cycle safety equipment and trained its drivers. "The drivers like the safety aids and video recording," he said. "It's difficult to measure the collisions we have avoided, but we think on balance the driver training and safety systems are having a positive effect."
He called on vehicle manufacturers to fit sensors, warning devices and cameras at the factory to reduce cost. "We want safer vehicles and will buy vehicles that have the best safety credentials," Starosolsky said. The company is working with Scania to test a glass panel for the nearside door to allow the driver a direct view to the left. "We will have a prototype on the road in the next couple of weeks and if it works we will roll it out," he added
Laing O’Rourke is also testing a six-wheeler tipper fitted with a Mercedes-Benz Econic low level cab (pictured) more often seen on dustcarts. "These are common in municipal operations; the difference in visibility [compared with high cab tippers] is night and day," said Starosolsky.
Nick Blake, head of product engineering, CVs, at Mercedes-Benz, said that low cabs were available for tippers, estimated to cost around £20,000 more than a conventional vehicle. "They are more expensive but what does a life cost? It is a matter of political will: if they are required on certain contracts, it would happen but there would be some very unhappy hauliers out there," he said.
Enforcement gets into gear
The CLOCS launch heard that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (Vosa and the DSA) and the Metropolitan Police Service have been increasing their enforcement effort targeted on construction vehicles suspected of being seriously non-compliant. The taskforce has issued 553 prohibitions and seized 14 vehicles. "It is starting to make a difference," Evans said. Met police chief superintendent Glyn Jones said cyclist deaths had become a favourite issue for the media but his job was to keep everyone safe on London’s roads. "There were six cyclists killed in 13 days – six pedestrians died in the same period and there was no media comment," he said.