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Giving cyclists priority

9th January 2014
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Page 8, 9th January 2014 — Giving cyclists priority
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

December's Trucking Britain survey reveals that cyclists should play the key role in improving road safety By Justin Stanton

NEARLY 200 ROAD transport professionals have had their say: the cycle safety issue is best addressed by cyclists obeying the rules of the road and being aware of vehicle blind spots, and by physically segregating cyclists from other road users.

In December's Trucking Britain survey, we asked operators: which methods should be implemented to reduce risks for cyclists? The most popular answers were the proper enforcement of cyclists ignoring the rules of the road, voted for by 87% of all respondents, and more training for cyclists on vehicle blind spots (85%). Physically segregating cyclists from others was voted for by 60% of respondents. The only other method to register with more than half of the respondents was lifting bans to allow trucks to deliver before and

after the rush hour. Not far behind was more training for drivers and redesigning junctions so they're safer: both scored 48%.

The fitment, whether voluntary or mandatory, of safety equipment (such as cameras and sensors) was not seen as a key solution, backed by just 26% and 23% respectively. Banning cyclists or trucks from the rush hour barely crept into double percentage figures. Construction hauliers have been at the forefront of the issue

(for good and bad reasons) for many years, and late last year the Construction Logistics and Cyclist Safety working group revealed an industry-wide standard for construction vehicles over 7.5 tonnes (CM12 December 2013). It's no surprise therefore that construction hauliers feel more passionately about the cycle safety issue than others: for example, 97% voted for the proper enforcement of cyclists ignoring the rules of the road, compared with the survey total of 87%. Similarly, 94% voted for cyclists being more aware of blindspots (85% survey total). Furthermore, 77% of construction hauliers voted for

the physical segregation of cyclists from other road users, compared with the survey total of 60%.

The majority of respondents (82%) felt that national and local media are biased against trucks when reporting incidents involving trucks and cyclists, and more than two-thirds (68%) felt that the government is not right to promote cycling without appropriate safeguards in place. One respondent told us: "There needs to be less emotion and more hard facts and analysis. Cycling, especially in London with the advent of Boris bikes, has increased rapidly, and many of the new cyclists have had no training or experience of riding in a busy

city. This has led to a number of fatal incidents, which although they have also involved cars, buses and a coach or two, have concentrated on trucks because they are always seen as dirty, smelly, noisy and dangerous. How many journalists and others still talk of juggernauts in a derogatory way, despite virtually everything they own and consume being delivered by trucks?"

Another told us: "There needs to be an educational and training step change on both sides to address the problem."

One driver said: "The government and media should wake up to the reality that we need to promote mutual respect for all road users. If the hot topic today is cyclists, tomorrow it may be horses and riders, the next day pedestrians, the next day some other user. Until people wake up to respecting each others' right to use the roads and start to respect other users, there will always be stupid mistakes that cost lives. Cyclists: look out for vehicles and respect their size. Large vehicle drivers: respect the vulnerability of cyclists."

Continuing the mutual respect theme, this driver said: "I sometimes cycle; you don't realise how close some vehicles get to you when passing until you have been on a bike yourself Since I started cycling, I now give cyclists much more room when travelling behind them and overtaking. Until you cycle, you won't know how many people do not give way for bikes." While many respondents were keen to point the finger of blame at cyclists, for the sake of balance we must report that only 35% said they have sent their drivers on vulnerable road user awareness training. And there are no prizes for guessing which type of haulier has embraced this the most: that's right, construction hauliers — nearly half (48%) use such training. •

Optimism rising

The Christmas spirit engulfed the transport industry in December as optimism levels surged to a new high score of 73, up from November's 63. Of the respondents, 84% were either very optimistic or fairly optimistic about the prospects for their business over the next 12 months, while 11% were either not very optimistic or not at all optimistic.

Own-account operators were the most positive: their optimistic/ not optimistic split was 96/4, an improvement on November's 89/9. Hire or reward hauliers were the most positive they have ever been, posting a split of 86/9, up from 72/17. Positivity among logistics and contract distribution companies slipped, as November's split of 84/11 dropped to 79/16.

• Go to commercialmotor.comftruckingbritain to take part in this month's survey.

What price efficiency?

Alarmingly, one third of all respondents (36%) had no target for fuel saving in 2013! If we can set that distressing statistic to one side, we can then report that one fifth of respondents had a saving target of between 1% and 3%, while nearly the same number again (18%) were pushing that bit harder with a target of between 4% and 6%. Just one 20th aimed for between 7% and 9%, while a similar number wanted to really stretch themselves with a saving of 10% or more.

Of those who had a target, it's pleasing to note that only 1% fell significantly short, and that 23% fell slightly short. A significant number (45%) met their target, while nearly a third (32%) either slightly or significantly exceeded their target.

We then asked all respondents if they have a fuel saving target for this year. Again, a worrying near-third (32%) don't have a target.

The most popular method for achieving targets is, somewhat surprisingly, the most capital-intensive: buying more fuel-efficient vehicles. This result was driven by its popularity among the larger fleets; among the smallest fleets, it was ranked behind reducing engine idling, and optimising and monitoring tyre pressures.

The data highlights a nugget of information for the tyre manufacturers to grapple with: while the awareness of the value of optimising and monitoring tyre pressures was high, lower rolling resistance tyres did not prove popular — only 22% voted for fitting such tyres.

It's also worth noting the difference between fuel saving and CO2 saving targets. Reducing their fleet's CO2 footprint is either very important or fairly important to 71% of respondents, while securing fuel saving is either very or fairly important to 95%.

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