04 July 2013

Things I don't want to hear politicians saying...

"Even one fatality is too many".  How often do we hear this from policy-makers?  Too often. Usually after another fatality.  

I've been meaning to blog about HGVs for a while.  Today seems like a 'good' day for it, after an Edinburgh cyclist was one of two men killed by an HGV while on a charity ride from Lands End to John O'Groats.  

This post from British Cycling last month actually covers much of what I was going to say, reminding us that "In London, HGVs were involved in 53% of cycling fatalities in 2011 despite making up just 4% of the traffic".   I don't think we have clear data on this for Edinburgh, but certainly at least 3 recent fatalities in the city involved lorries of various kinds.  

In Dublin where they have banned the largest lorries from the city streets, cycling increased from 8% to 30% in one year.  In Paris, where HGVs are strictly controlled, there were no cycling fatalities at all in 2011, and a much lower rate of serious injuries than in our comparable big cities, despite rising numbers of cyclists.

But the example that I'd really like to see us learn from is Utrecht, where they have something called a
'cargo-hopper'.  Basically, HGVs deliver their loads to a depot outside the city, and then an electric fleet of vehicles make the deliveries in smaller batches.  The cargo-hoppers are electric, and solar-powered, so quiet and low-emissions.  As you can see in the picture, they are also designed to give the driver maximum visibility. 

Given the changes in city centre retailing, especially the number of 'local' 'metro' & 'neighborhood' shops, and on-line retailing, this seems like an idea whose time has come.  Just think of the difference to Morningside Road and Leith Walk if big supermarket delivery vehicles, John Lewis, B&Q etc were not trundling up and down every day?  Not to mention the benefits of aggregating orders so that Rose Street was not a complete clutter of vans in the mornings before 10.30?  Or that you could actually see the cycle/bus lane in Forest Road? 

I don't want to hear another politician saying 'even one fatality is too many'. Let's move on from the platitudes and actually learn from places where the politicians don't have to say this.

Updatecoaches transporting tourists are also a menace - an Edinburgh cyclist ended up underneath one on Tuesday.  Amazingly, he survived.  Both coaches and HGVs have similar issues.  Not just massive blind spots, but drivers whose positioning is up and away from the road

Another Update:  just saw this report from the BBC about proposals to redesign lorry cabs so as to improve their visibility - interesting. 

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