This blog was originally published in Motion Magazine.
In September 2016 the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched the world’s first Direct Vision Standard aimed at protecting all road users, including vulnerable road users, cyclists, motorcyclist and pedestrians.
I can openly admit that when I first read through this it did raise the old blood pressure a little. At first I thought it was yet another legislative restriction on our highly regulated industry. But you have to admire the commitment here as it is part of the Mayor’s Vision Zero to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from London roads by 2041.
I do have some qualms though. There are a lot of statistics around deaths of pedestrians and cyclists involving large goods vehicles, but they never quote if it was actually the driver who was at fault, or the vulnerable road user. I think it would be good to incorporate a better understanding of fault into these stats. And while I agree that it is important to regulate hauliers, I guess a question on many lips is also “Who is regulating cyclists?”.
Don’t get me wrong. I think there are a large number of very good law abiding cyclists on our roads today. But there are also too many reckless cyclists and I believe not enough of the burden of responsibility currently falls on this group to improve, take more care and be properly equipped.
Meanwhile hauliers invest significantly in new safety technology, and you can’t ignore the fact that many operators also invest in driver development and training, including CPC.
You only have to drive behind a truck to immediately notice all the safety signage on the rear and sides, the blind spot cameras or proximity sensors. Does all this technology really make our roads safer? I wonder whether fitting all these new gadgets to the vehicles can actually be a distraction for drivers.
In contrast, today, you can walk into any reputable cycle supplier and purchase a bike without so much as a whisper of advice to buy a helmet. Isn’t it time cyclists were legally obliged to protect themselves. Nor is there any requirement for cycle shops to provide the latest copy of the Highway Code, or for cyclists to read it for that matter.
It won’t be long before all major cities follow suit and implement a Direct Vision Standard. The cynic in me believes that maybe the motivation behind this movement is the fact that they never really wanted HGVs there in the first place.
I, like many others in the industry, fully support this initiative and agree that doing nothing is not an option. We have to work with what we have. Let’s hope for all those who have invested so far it helps in achieving that all important one star rating.