Freight Transport Association condemned for inaccurately blaming victims of lorry crashes

The London Cycling Campaign has expressed shock and disappointment at yesterday's statement from the Freight Transport Assocition (FTA), which inaccurately sought to apportion blame to cyclists for the deaths and injuries they suffer in collisions with lorries.

The announcement was made by on the same day that a young female was killed in collision with a lorry in South London.

LCC Chief Executive Ashok Sinha said, "This is an unfounded exercise in victim-blaming by the FTA, and our supporters are appalled they're being wrongfully criticised in this manner.

"There's clear evidence that cyclist competence and behaviour is not the chief contributory factor in the majority of deaths and injuries caused by collisions with lorries.

"It's extraordinary that someone as senior at the FTA as Policy Director Karen Dee would not be aware of the relevant statistics, or would choose to ignore them. 

"Rather than inappropriate and tasteless victim-blaming, the FTA should focus on its work with freight operators to bring the rest of the industry up to the safety standards of the best."

We don't know the circumstances of yesterday's tragic death, but whatever the causes of the crash the young cyclist did not deserve to die.

It's clear large lorries create a disproportionate level of risk for cyclists and pedestrians, and we believe it's the legal responsibility of the road freight industry to do everything practical to reduce that risk.

A Department for Transport study of injury crashes shows, for adult cyclists, police found the driver solely responsible in about 60%-75% of all cases, and riders solely at fault 17%-25% of the time.

The figures below (DfT/As Easy As Riding a Bike) show lorry drivers are more likely to have failed to look properly (30% of the time) compared with cyclists (18%).

The second figure shows the disproportionate outcomes of those collisions, with around one-third of crashes causing death or serious injury to the cyclist, but not a single one causing harm to the lorry driver.  

chart showing contributory factors in cyclist-lorry collisions

 

The most effective way to reduce death on our streets is to reduce danger at source which (aside from creating proper space for cycling and regulating lorry movements) means only the safest lorries and drivers should be allowed to use London's streets.

This also applies to reducing the number of pedestrian deaths caused by collisions with lorries.

All road users should have a duty of care to protect themselves and every other road user. The London Cycling Campaign has been instrumental in spreading the take-up of cyclist-awareness training for lorry drivers, and actively supports Bikeability training for cyclists (which we would like to see on the National Curriculum).

We're deeply disappointed that, having previously been supportive of creating better conditions for cycling, the FTA is now seeking to lay fault with cyclists rather than supporting measures to make sure that London adopts the highest standards for lorry safety.

Update:  LCC to meet with FTA

Following the publication of this story and comments in the Evening Standard and cycling press the London Cycling Campaign has been contacted by the Freight Transport Association . We have agreed to a high level meeting with them to revive our good working relationship.

Replies

I agree with these comments and have emailed the FTA Director of Policy (karen Dee)  and would urge other members to do the same.  Be courteous and polite.

press.office@fta.co.uk 

  • By Jamie76 at 4:16pm 5 September 2013

At the risk of facing the wrath of lots and lots of cyclist we do need to be seen to be asking cyclist to pay more attention to the rules of the road. One of the first comments I receive when I let people know I commute to work on a bike is “do I run red lights” every morning I ride in and every afternoon I ride home I see cyclist numbering in the double figures jumping red lights. Rows or cars and pedestrians witness these cyclist jumping lights and giving everyone a bad name. We all need to work together to address the entire road safety issue.

Likewise I see cyclist riding up the side of a lorry or bus when the vehicle is clearly indicating to go left or in the case of buses pull out of a bus stop. All the cyclist I have witness do this have luckily survived being hit although I suspect its only a matter of time before one is hit. Generally the cycylist will offer the vehicle driver a hand signal or two in abuse and ride off. Again this is witnessed the general public / road user who unsurprisingly seem to be anti cyclist.

Personally I agree with the comments below.

We need to see cyclists taking responsibility for their actions, obeying traffic regulations, giving space to HGVs making manoeuvres and generally riding responsibly. Unless you also improve the behaviour of cyclists, the problem will not improve in the way that everyone wants."

 

I agree with you Jamie - so many fellow cyclists here in London seem to think that they should just "get to the front" and be totally unaware of how other traffic has to use the roads. In fact I'm surprised that there are not more squashed cyclists, the numbers I see going up on the inside of moving / about to move vehicles of all types or dodging in and out of moving traffic so quickly that there is very little chance of them being seen by every motorist concentrating on the traffic, junctions, cyclists and pedestrians who are already in front of them.

And - pre- 8pm - it is now past sunset - get your lights on folks !

  • By Dave H at 9:22pm 5 September 2013

Indeed one would have thought that FTA, not only having interests in road haulage, would have recognised that the greatest hazard arises from the intensive operation of just one type of truck, which dominates the HGV presence in central London, and is linked to the clearance of excavated material, or delivery of building materials to major construction projects across London.  This traffic does not need to cover such a massive ton-mileage on London's roads, and FTA is not, like RHA, exclusively a gruop for road hauliers.  

During one major project near to St Pancras the mornings saw 30-40 32T tipper trucks stretching back up Midland and Pancras Roads as far as you could see, right back into Camden, ready to carry away 2000-3000T per day dug out from the massive 4 floors below ground that the new building was due to get.  For 2 months these trucks were making 150 round trips to Pitsea (63 miles) where the material was dropped.  Heading down City Road during the morning peak you would pass one of these trucks every 300 metres or so, stuck in the traffic.

However St Pancras has a freight siding, and Kings Cross has the land where tracks have actually been taken away, where this daily volume of material could have been loaded on to just 2 trains per day, provided by one of FTA's rail operator members. Alternatively the Regents Canal was also a nearby opportunuity to load the equivalent of 4 trucks-worth goes on to a single barge.  Move that down to the River Thames and in Central London and strings of 500T barges carry up to 2000T at a time with just one tug and a couple of crew, and no one notices them passing through. FTA might have highlighted Lynch of Brentwood, one construction industry contractor who has made a very positive move to reduce the danger of HGV's by removing them from the streets and putting around 10,000T per day of this traffic onto the water.

So instead of a misogynistic sniping at misbehaviour of a few cyclists, FTA could have promoted a positive way forward which not only reduced the risk by removing the hazard, but made a positive contribution to cutting the pollution from noise, dust and emissions, and the damage to London's roads, by getting much of this traffic onto rail and river, and showing how some FTA members are taking up the challenge of thinking out of the trucks.

Oh and forget all those gizmo sensors and a small forest of mirrors, cyclist safety should not be though a secondary viewing system, which can so easily false-read or fall down. Just as Robin Webb's memorial video for his daughter - killed in London by an HGV clearly shows.  We can have truck drivers sitting with direct eye-level vision of cyclists and pedestrians immediately outside the truck cab, and better still those outside the truck can look in and make sure the driver is looking at them. FTA might consider recognising the proposals from LCC for a truck which is inherently safer by design and dump the totally inappropriate monster cabs with their god-like macho driver positions, safely removed from any any real contact with those outside.

The LCC safer truck is a way forward and if the FTA wants to redeem their credibility in this debate they should be engaging with LCC on delivery of trucks like this working in London, and reducing the road ton-mileage, by getting FTA members, embracing RFG (Lord Berkeley heads this group as well as taking a keen interest in cycling) and CBOA (a valuable source of what can be moved on the waterways), to get these massive tonnages off the roads in London. 07.15 - Midland Road - Cycle route closed (no alternative provided) so that trucks could queue for the site. In the distance you can see the continuation of this queue up along the left side of Pancras Road (around truck No 15) - this is a nose to tail line waiting for the site to start excavating material.

This post was edited by Dave H at 9:45pm 5 September 2013.

Jamie - how do you suggest this is done? Is it not a case that "cyclists" and "drivers" are not groups but mostly unconnected individuals partaking in the same activity? As I'm sure you've seen the statistics do not suggest that the majority of cyclists are any worse road users than drivers, and yet "we" are blamed for other rider's transgressions. As a driver I've NEVER been blamed for someone else's speeding, or use of a moblie phone, or any other illegal activity. Why does the general public believe I (as a cyclist) have more control of another road user's behaviour than I do as a driver? And how can this be changed? I see drivers of all vehicle types behaving in an illegal manner every day, yet I don't tar everyone with the same brush.

There's aslo a huge problem with infrastructure (as we all know!) in that many cyclists will believe wat they've been told, and that how the roads are laid out is the right way to use them. If you don't want cyclists to go down the left hand side of vehicles to get to the fornt at junctions, why are there ASLs with feed-in lanes? Cyclists are "supposed" to use these - the Highway Code even says they can be SAFER. Is it any surprise that cyclists stick to the left (where those 'safe' lanes are) and try to get to the front at junctions (where the 'safe' bit for bikes is)? Education is the key - but you have to educate people (not disparate groups) properly, and back this up with what you draw on the tarmac.

For what it's worth I think the TfL adverts (for all their faults) are a great thing, and more on-bus or on-street advertising (visible to PEOPLE - not groups) could help change things for the better. However, I also feel like we're in the position of trying to improve something without any power to do so, and almost from a 'well, I wouldn't start from here' position.

This post was edited by marco panettone at 10:31am 6 September 2013.

  • By Jamie76 at 12:09pm 6 September 2013

 

Marco,

 If I understand your post correctly I will answer the first paragraph. At the moment there is a big thing about lorry safety as the lorries are deemed to be one of the biggest causes of road death amongst cyclist. In an ideal world the roads system could be changed tomorrow to make cycling safer. Unfortunately for whatever reason things take time and a lot of effort. A lot of drivers who don’t cycle do see cyclist as a pain. Funny thing is if cyclist were banned from London the drivers would get stressed with another road user, maybe motor bikes, maybe bus drivers. Just like if lorry’s are removed from London’s road cyclist would then move onto cab drivers, bus drivers or who ever. At the end of the day we all need to work together not start sniping at each other.

 I can’t comment on the alternatives, I don’t know how many barges are out there to extract or bring in rubble. We need to have buildings and places of work built in London and other areas.

 I never said don’t ever ride on the left. I mostly always cycle in the left, if I rode in the middle of the road I would probably be dead by now. sometimes in traffic I filter down the outside of the cars (middle of road) just like a motor bike. having previously owned a motor bike I often judge this to be a safer alternative. What I am trying to point out is often at certain junctions its clear a certain vehicle will be turning left. As an example I know at Tooley Street every morning when I want to turn right onto London Bridge I am riding up Tooley Street on the left in the cycle lane. Most days as we approach the junction a car will turn left without signaling. I make sure I am not next to a car, lorry bus etc just in case they do indeed turn left and take me off the bike. I position myself in the road in a way I deem to be safe, normally I will signal right and move into the middle of the road and ride at the pace of the vehicle in front of me. When the vehicle has either turned left and got out of the way or turned right allowing me to turn right I then move over to the left hand side of London Bridge and carry on with my journey. At least once a week I witness a cyclist zooming up the left to turn right. I have seen some really close near misses.

 It’s interesting following a vehicle such as a 4x4 where my eye level is around the same level as the drivers mirrors, very rarely will they look in the left mirror or over their shoulder when turning left. Extrapolate this to a lorry driver who probably doesn’t look left some of the time and we cyclist have a big problem. That’s not considering the drivers who do have a thorough look but don’t see as we cyclist are in their blind spot. So why put ourselves in that position of we don’t have to either by holding back a few seconds until we are OK to pass or go around the outside if safe and appropriate to do so.

 A lot of the larger vehicles now have signs on the back asking cyclist not to pass on the inside.

 I just want to clarify, I am not blaming any one for any accidents. They are after all preventable accidents that we can all participate in preventable measures to avoid. So instead of snipping at someone let’s get a forum together to discuss the issues. It would be interesting to arrange a get together and exchange places for a few hours, get a lorry driver out on a cycle route and get some cyclist in a lorry just to see how poor the view of the inside of the lorry may be.

 And yes, its visibility is starting to get poor, I will start to take the bus more and more, sitting at the top front of the bus I will again be amazed at how many cyclist ride with poor clothing (black which acts as a camouflage) and little or no lights. Again this is another thing none cyclist pick up on. we can all do something a little better.

 I agree with you last paragraph. One of the things people need to be educated about is the dam road tax debate, I heard another radio add this morning that mention no road tax. Aaggghhh!

 

In 2003 I researched the 'freight on waterways' issue for an objection to the Olympic site planning application.  It coincided with having a lodger who was an engineer on the St Pancras project as well as using a bus stop on the return route rat-run for the soil dumping tippers.

I learned from the engineer that costings were calculated on the lorry load so there was a need for firms to think outside the standard spread sheet for water freight.  (The govt had/has grants for the necessary road head/waterside infrastructure.)   However the road freight lobby is very powerful, which we tend to forget, and no doubt some of the 'savings' when the Olympic site came in under budget were from loads moving on road rather than water - the superficially 'cheaper' option.  (The financial cost to the state of the fatalties of Svitlana Tereschenko, Brian Dowling and Dan Harris not met through the Olympic budget.)

Jamie, we have to get past on these forums this mantra that cyclists are unable to campaign or comment on road safety matters without first going in for self-policing flagellation.  Yes there are cyclists who do silly things as in all walks of life.  Many cyclists also hold driving licences, the stats somewhere between 60<>80%, but in my 40 years cycling in London I have yet to see a motorist get out of their vehicle and upbraid another who has passed their 'stop' to enter an ASL.  (Particularly police cars)  Feel free to do so next time you are in a car/passanger on the offending bus.  And btw get in touch with your local authority and find out their dates for their Exchanging Places, that's a scheme supported by LCC in which the police demonstrate the blind spots on a lorry.

I didn't mean to accuse you personally of victim-blaming; it was a more general point about people and society in general. Cyclists seem to get grouped in a way that drivers aren't, and the group doesn't exist. This makes it impossible to "sort ourselves out", as some of the motoring organisations might like.

I'm certainly not sniping at you - I see the same things on occasion too. I'm sure we've both seen vehicles overtake cyclists before immediately turning across them too, but without full details of the accidents and incidents it's difficult to attribute blame. However - whoever is to blame there is only one victim, and this is one too many. It isn't always the cyclist that puts themselves into the situation.

I'll try to clarify - cyclists SHOULD obey the rules of the road. However, by doing what is thought to be correct (ie using cycle lanes and moving past vehicles to the ASL) they can actually be putting themselves into the worst possible place DESPITE THEIR ACTIONS BEING CORRECT according to the Highway Code, and what a lot of drivers and cyclists think. Without the infrastructure mis-educating people as to where they 'should' be riders may be forced to actually think for themselves.

 

So, what can we (as cyclists) do? On an individual level we can shout at/speak to offenders in the street, which is not always effective and isn't "being seen to do something" by other road-users. People tend not to react too well either, whatever their mode of transport.

As a 'group' I think an approach like Stonewall took with their "Some people are gay - get over it" adverts might be effective. Maybe "roads are for everyone - so are the rules" as a 2-pronged attack against illegal/dangerous cycling and against the 'get off the road' drivers out there. It's simple, and doesn't need to be explained (unlike the 'space for cycling' campaign).

I *think* we're essentially on the same side.

I agree with Marc Panettone. However, I belive that there is, additionally, a dangerous culture amongst many lorry and other commercial drivers which is reinforced by their employers and which the criminal courts have done nothing to address over a long period of time. As commuter and leisure cycling becomes more popular and inevitably (and rightly) demands more road space, so commercial drivers will be more aggressive and dangerous in response unless they are 'protected' by legislation, i.e. they can argue that they have to drive more carefully and slowly because of civil legislation - they would be liable if they kill someone on the roads. The only answer is to impose the same regulatory and H&S requirements upon them in respect of RTAs as they currently have to acept with work place deaths and injuries. LCC could and should be campaigning (and taking legal action) to support this. KSIs by construction vehicles on building sites attract a very different response from the authorities than KSIs on the public hghway. If we could change this then safety for cyclists would race up the agenda of most employers of lorry, van, taxi and car drivers. And this would be much quicker than changing the attitudes of the dinosaurs at TfL.

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