LCC criticises government for lack of action on lorry mirrors

London Cycling Campaign has criticised Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick for failing to implement measures to protect vulnerable road users from lorries.

In a letter to LCC this week, the minister confirmed he has no plans to speed up the fitting of Class VI safety mirrors, nor to ensure lorry driver training will make them more aware of cyclists and pedestrians.

The letter from the minister came days after another London cyclist was involved in a fatal collision with a heavy goods vehicle in Greenwich on 15 May 2009.

LCC has long campaigned to speed up the fitting of Class VI safety mirrors to all HGVs. These mirrors give a view of the road directly in front of the driver’s cab, and are proven to reduce cyclist and pedestrian casualties.

Under the current programme, most UK lorries will not have these mirrors until 2014.

LCC campaigner and former lorry driver Charlie Lloyd said, "In his letter the minister claims to have been one of those lobbying the EU to increase the prevalence of safety mirrors."

"It's difficult to take this claim seriously when you consider the fact that the UK government left implementing the existing EU directive on safety mirrors until the very last minute, a delay of a whole year.”

"The minister says that he does not have the power to make changes nationally yet other European countries have acted well in advance of the EU mirror directives. LCC challenges the minister to state publicly that he supports the fitting of Class VI mirrors and will do everything in his power to have them implemented in the UK."

“New rules require ‘in service’ training for all lorry drivers. There is no evidence that cyclist and pedestrian safety is included or given any priority in this training.”

LCC's criticism of the minister is backed up by a recent National Audit Office report that says the Department for Transport is failing to adequately improve road safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

The DfT's own draft Road Safety Strategy highlighted casualties and fatalities of vulnerable road users as the biggest safety issue affecting the road transport industry.

We suggest that the minister should be leading the transport industry to adopt a safety culture; upgrading training, equipment and operations to reduce the danger to cyclists and pedestrians.

Cycling in London has doubled since 2000 and the casualty rate has dropped dramatically, but not fast enough to meet the targets set by the DfT. In 2008, 9 out of the 15 cyclist fatalities in Greater London were caused by collisions with HGVs.