Freight Transport Association calls for intelligent, targeted and evidence-based safety measures
THE Freight Transport Association (FTA) has said that more must be done, including from the logistics industry, to improve the safety of cyclists on city streets.
However, the FTA does not believe that banning HGVs from operating during peak hours is the answer, claiming the idea is unachievable and fails to recognize the essential role that commercial vehicles play in supplying and servicing towns and cities.
Christopher Snelling, the FTA’s head of urban logistics policy, commented: ‘The FTA believes that the idea of banning HGVs from a city like London in peak hours is naive and not commercially viable. It would mean massive economic implications for the shops, businesses and residents of the capital. It would also create new safety issues as one lorry is replaced by about eight – not to mention the increased congestion and air pollution that would result.’
Several politicians and cycling campaign groups have advocated the banning of lorries from London during the rush hour, citing Paris and Dublin as precedents. However, the FTA has discovered that the Paris ban exempts nearly all the types of trucks currently on London’s roads and the supposed Dublin ban is avoidable upon payment of a toll.
Mr Snelling explained: ‘Paris only restricts the largest trucks, above about 28 tonnes gross weight. Very few trucks of this size operate on London’s roads because there is already a long-standing ban on articulated vehicles in the central area.
‘Paris also exempts a long list of vehicles, including all construction traffic – the vehicles that are most represented in recent cycling fatalities, while the Dublin scheme is not a ban at all, as any vehicle of any size can move about and deliver or collect anything anywhere at any time, as long as they pay a €10 fee.’
Mr Snelling continued: ‘It’s too simplistic to cite Paris and Dublin as examples of where HGV bans work, as in practice very few vehicles are denied access to the city centres. The reality is that the city authorities recognize that goods deliveries are essential to the efficient functioning of the city and permit them round-the-clock access.’
The FTA has also pointed to the deluge effect that a rush hour restriction would have with commercial vehicles arriving en masse at the end of a morning ban.
Nevertheless, the Association says recent tragic events have reinforced the message that more needs to be done to improve the safety of cyclists and all vulnerable road users.
To this end, haulage companies are investing hundreds of thousands of pounds upgrading their HGV fleets and in driver training to improve their performance on the road, and throughout this autumn the FTA is delivering cycling safety messages to the road haulage industry at its Transport Manager conferences across the UK.
The FTA is also involved in the launch of new safety standards for construction traffic in London next month.
Mr Snelling concluded: ‘One death is too many and we must all do more to improve safety – cyclists, public authorities, public transport and HGV drivers and operators included. But banning HGVs is a simplistic response with massive economic and transport impacts and an unquantified safety case.
‘Any measures taken should be intelligent, targeted and evidence based if we are to improve safety whilst allowing our cities to function. Cyclists can also contribute to improving safety levels and should be further helped and encouraged to do so.’