Welcome news of a change in EU law regarding the design of lorry and truck cabs was announced yesterday. The EU have voted through an amendment to the 'weights and dimensions directive' which means that all new HGVs must comply with mandatory safety requirements.
Of all cycling fatalities in London involving another vehicle, over 50% involve a lorry or truck. These new safety requirements would mean redesigned cabs to improve the direct vision of drivers, and decrease the number of blind spots.
This means larger side windows and a lower windscreen, allowing drivers to see closer in front of their vehicles, and also to the side. At traffic lights and junctions, these locations are where a lot of cyclists can end up, due to the location of cycle lanes and cycle boxes.
The restricted view a lorry or truck driver has from their cab and the dangers this brings to cyclists who share the road with them have been the subject of many campaigns.
In London, the LCC (London Cycling Campaign) has been encouraging their supporters to write to local councils asking them to commit to ensuring they use lorries with the latest safety equipment, for 'Safer Lorries, Safer Roads' campaign. The Metropolitan Police Cycle Task-force have also been addressing the issue with their 'Exchanging Places' program.
At a National Level, British Cycling have been championing the cause. Chris Boardman, policy advisor for British Cycling, met with EU officials in January of this year to talk about this very issue alongside Andrew Gilligan, Cycling Commissioner for London.
Boardman welcomed the positive vote, stating that 'This is another step towards creating an environment on the roads that accommodates the needs and safety of cyclists. Lorries are involved in almost one in five cycle fatalities in Britain and part of the problem is dangerous cab designs. I hope the Department for Transport moves quickly to ensure that we have more fit for purpose lorries on Britain's roads.'
Although a definite improvement, and a move which we welcome, it's only part of the work that needs to be done to improve conditions for cyclists, and indeed all road users, going forward.
Cycle awareness training for lorry drivers, better infrastructure, and even controls on when larger vehicles can enter city centers during busy time will all go towards making cycling in the UK an increasingly pleasant experience, and the best way to get from A to B.