Why Hackney Council can’t sign the London Cycling Campaign’s Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling pledge – but what it is doing to help safer cycling

Copied email from the Mayor of Hackney:


From: Mayor Pipe
To: ................
Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 12:44 PM
Subject: Re: Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling

Dear ....................

Re: Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling

Thank you for your email regarding the London Cycling Campaign’s Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling pledge.

Firstly, I can assure you that both I and Hackney Council recognise and understand the need to promote the safety of cyclists around lorries. I can confirm that Hackney has taken the lead in the promotion of cycle safety around HGVs, and is at the forefront of training for both drivers and cyclists.

The Council has participated with many of TfL's projects in this area, such as the trialling of new equipment, and Hackney was one of the driving forces in creating the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence module – which includes hands-on cycle training for HGV drivers. This pioneering work led to Hackney Council being the first local authority in the country to train all its HGV drivers in this cycle safety module.

Furthermore, the Council procures vehicles to the highest technical standards – with all its HGVs fitted with audible reverse alarms, and its biggest vehicles being fitted with electronic cycle safety equipment that warns cyclists audibly and visually when the vehicle is turning left. All HGVs are also fitted with class VI mirrors – as mentioned in the pledge – as well as sideguards where the body design allows.

Hackney’s fleet manager is a member of the cycle safety forum led by Hackney Council's Road Safety team. This unique forum brings together officers from various internal departments and external agencies such as the Metropolitan Police, the London Cycling Campaign, the LCC in Hackney and contract partners, and is chaired by Hackney’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods. Through this forum, the Council has pushed for cycle safety awareness training to be included as part of the Considerate Construction Code, which is a common and legally-binding condition of approval for many major development projects.

Since 2011 the Council has trained over 363 HGV drivers, which includes it own waste services, Hackney Learning Trust and contractors including May Gurney, Marlborough Surfacing, Bywaters and McGrath Bros. The Council has also delivered classroom-based training for 75 drivers, including Council staff who do not drive HGVs but are responsible for larger vehicles such as buses, gardening trucks and vans.

With regard to the pledge itself, both I and the Council support this concept and the London Cycling Campaign’s aims to improve cycle safety. However, there are unfortunately a small number of issues with the pledge that mean Hackney Council is not in a position to sign it.

Firstly, the pledge requires all lorries to have a close-proximity warning system to make the driver aware of cyclists and pedestrians who might be hidden from view. The Council has been involved with TfL’s trials of this equipment, but unfortunately it proved unsuitable for Hackney’s roads. Most of the borough’s vehicles operate at slow speeds close to parked cars and street furniture, which causes the warning systems to operate continuously. Not only does this fail to accurately warn the driver of cyclists and pedestrians, it is also very distracting for the driver – which in itself can be dangerous. As a result of these trials, Hackney opted for a different system, which is installed only in the largest vehicles.

Additionally, although all new vehicles are fitted with mandatory sideguards – as the pledge requires – the body designs of some of Hackney’s existing specialist vehicles unfortunately mean that sideguards cannot be fitted.

The pledge also requires signatories to confirm that all of its suppliers will also conform to every single condition of the pledge. Unfortunately, the Council cannot make such a promise, as public sector procurement legislation does not allow local authorities to enforce such requirements of its suppliers.

However, the Council does include – as part of its procurement processes – a number of safeguards to encourage suppliers to raise their standards, and it does all it can to encourage the adoption of numerous standards. For example, all suppliers are encouraged to sign up to TfL’s Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme. I have also been assured that the Council is currently working to ensure that its contract standards include conditions similar to those listed on LCC’s pledge, where this is feasible.

Although Hackney Council is unable to sign the Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling pledge at the present time, I hope that the information above reassures you that we take cycle safety very seriously. I can also assure you that the Council will continue to look at further improvements it can make to driver awareness and competence levels, and to both its own vehicles and those of its contractors.

Yours sincerely

Jules Pipe
Mayor of Hackney


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