Cycling News

Keep suspect lorry operator off our streets - Traffic Commissioner responds to LCC call for action

Last week's conviction of driver Barry Meyer whose lorry killed killed a cyclist in Holborn raised serious questions about the owners of the lorry. How did they they allow an unlicensed driver to drive a 32 ton tipper lorry through Central London in rush hour?

We understand that the police are not planning a prosecution of the lorry's owner or manager. After a recent lorry crash in Bath that killed four people Avon and Somerset police have cautioned the lorry owner for a charge of "manslaughter by gross negligence".

Last week we wrote to Nick Denton the Traffic Commissioner for London and South East England asking him to review the operator's licence. Transport for London's Policing Partnerships Unit had made a similar request.

Traffic Commissioner to hold public inquiry.

In reply to our letter the Traffic Commissioner has told London Cycling Campaign that he will hold an inquiry into the lorry's owner, Alan Drummond, who is based in Barking, East London. The transport manager will also have to attend. There will be a preliminary hearing in June followed by a public inquiry in July.

It would be a great result if the operator's licence is revoked and the managers are banned. In the past Traffic Commissioners have been criticised for only having weak powers. They have been criticised for not removing operating licences from companies with a poor safety record and for allowing drivers who have been banned for serious offences back on the road.

In this case it may be that Barry Meyer did not apply for the return of his HGV licence after the ban on his car licence was lifted because he feared the Traffic Commissioner would have refused it. Whatever the circumstances the lorry's owner should have checked his licence and not allowed him near the lorry.

There was evidence that Meyer had driven for longer than is legally allowed twice in the ten days before his fatal crash. It is the responsibility of the owners/managers of a transport company to check the driver's hours of work and take action if they drive for too long.

What is a Traffic Commissioner?

The seven regional Traffic Commissioners are responsible for the licensing and regulation of those who operate heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches. They are a non-departmental government body sponsored by the Department for Transport.

Traffic commissioners are meant to ensure that people operating lorries and buses are competent, reputable and financially viable. The control who can run, manage and drive large vehicles. They can revoke an operating licence and if they consider an owner or transport manager is of “bad repute” they can prevent those people from running any transport business.

Around half the road transport industry is made up of small companies or individuals owning a few lorries. It is a highly competitive industry with great pressure to cut costs by cutting corners on maintaining safe vehicles and safe operating practices. This is a particular concern among the sub-contractors serving the construction industry.

Many regard the Commissioners as a powerless set of officials running a system left over from the previous century. They are greatly under-resourced and can only realistically examine a proportion of the cases presented to them. They have no powers of investigation and rely on evidence from the police and or the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA).

For some years the Metropolitan Police have ensured that a report was sent to the Commissioners after every fatality involving a goods vehicle. In Scotland they go much further. Police Scotland have an agreement with the Traffic Commissioner so that every time a driver is stopped for any offence it is reported to the Commissioner who keeps a record and can make informed decisions on granting and renewing licences.

The inquiry into Alan Drummond's transport operation could well be a test case to illustrate how effective the Traffic Commissioner system is for ensuring the safe operation of the transport industry in London.

 

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First "Tiger Crossing" for cyclists comes to London

 

London Borough of Hackney has just upgraded the hugely popular London Cycle Network route 9 leading up to the Town Hall.

The crossing of Richmond Road E8 for many years has been marked with informal white blocks. In anticipation of the upgrade to the official UK guidelines on signs and road markings Hackney has installed what we think is London's first "Tiger Crossing".

A "Tiger Crossing" combines a pedestrian zebra with a crossing for people on bikes. They are called "Tiger" because early versions had yellow stipes on black tarmac.

Until now some drivers were uncertain about giving way to bikes and pedestrians at this crossing. Now people on bikes get the same priority as do pedestrians on the zebra.

This is possibly the first such crossing in London, it may even be the first in the UK. In the Netherlands this type of arrangement is very common, it is an essential element of many of their safe junction designs.

The simple effectiveness of this layout should be attractive to every other borough and highway authority in the UK. It is far cheaper and easier to install than a signalized crossing. It also means that there is less delay and higher level of service for all road users.

On approach to the crossing there is a give way sign for riders on the cycle route. This protects the priority of pedestrians walking on the Richmond Road pavements.

In the future these extra signs may not be necessary - allowing for the informal mixing of people on bikes with people on foot as often seen at similar crossings in other European countries.

This is how it looked before the improvements. Many thousands of cyclists a day cross here, most drivers were used to it and gave way but some were confused. It was more difficult for the thousands of pedestrians who also cross here.

London Cycle Network route 9 follows the medieval route of the Black Path linking London to Walthamstow and on to Essex. It is also known as the Market Porters route. The route was here before the road was built and before cars were invented.

 

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As a membership charity we rely on funds raised through subscriptions from individuals who share our vision of making London the best cycling city in the world. If you share our vision and want to help create Space for Cycling please join LCC today.



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London's Cycle Superhighway Upgrade - the first 100 metres

The desperately needed upgrade to Cycle Superhighway 2 in Whitechapel has begun to emerge. First section to open is approximately 100 metres long on the way out of town between Brick Lane and Greatorex Street.

This is a huge benefit for people who want to cycle on this route which has the worst casualty record over the past three years. It is a great success for London Cycle Campaign and Space for Cycling.

The short lane now open is at one of the difficult, narrow sections of Whitechapel Road.  It demonstrates the good and not so good elements of this upgrade, promised by the Mayor at his election over 3 years ago. They have taken on many of our suggestions for improvement, such as the angled curbing to avoid strking the curb with your pedals.

The new bus stop by passes allow safe cycling, no longer will we have to mix it with buses pulling in and out at every stop.  Almost all of the pedestrians and bus users have adapted quickly to the new layout. The remaining pavement is quite narrow, just under 2 metres at the tightest. The bus shelter has moved onto the 2.5 metre wide island.

Cars cutting in at the junction of Greatorex Street were taking much more care than at the wide open junctions on the Stratford High Street section built in 2013. It could have been made even tighter - it is a narrow street, any large vehicle would need to swing wide and the slower they are forced to go the better.

Just beyond Greatorex Street the Superhighay gets very narrow as it curves around a mature tree, there is no physical barrier here. It is supposed to be 1.5 metres wide, we measured it as less than 1.3 metres to the white line.

Where there is a break in the island TfL designers are insisting on placing blank bollards on wide concrete bases, here the lane shrinks to 1.6 metres. London Cycling Campaign have objected to this design feature. It would be far better to use a few wands, as shown at the temporary works at the start of this new section of Superhighway, keeping the width to 2.0 metres.

 

Here are TfL's plans showing more detail for this section of Whitechapel Road (click to zoom).

Click image to expand

 

 

 

 

 

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As a membership charity we rely on funds raised through subscriptions from individuals who share our vision of making London the best cycling city in the world. If you share our vision and want to help create Space for Cycling please join LCC today.



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Product review: Altura ProGel Liners

ALTURA PROGEL LINERS
£29.99
altura.co.uk

Padded liner shorts are a worthwhile investment for commuters and weekend adventurers alike. As they’re more lightly padded than full-on roadie bibshorts they can be worn unobtrusively under your work trousers or jeans, taking the edge off mid-to-long journeys and also preventing chafing from those annoying seams in the seat area of your strides.

These six-panel Altura liners are pricier than some but the money’s gone on a high-spec insert — this has thicker gel pads under your sit bones and thinner padding elsewhere, and is a million miles away from that ‘nappy’ feeling most of us dread. (By the way, no, you don’t wear regular underwear with them — we get asked this regularly!).

Silicone leg grippers stop them from riding up and waist loops mean they can also be attached to some models of baggy short. Sizes S-XXL; women’s 8-18.


Review: John Kitchiner


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Safer Lorry for cyclists on show and in use in London

 

On display at an exchanging places event at the Tate Modern is the first "Direct Vision" 32 ton tipper lorry. This lorry is now in daily use on London's streets.

In February we highlighted this vehicle when it was launched at the CLOCS exhibition. Currently on trial by Cemex for delivering stone aggregate it is being tested by three or four different drivers until the end of June when a full assessment will be made.

The Mercedes Econic design has a very low cab allowing the driver to see directly around him. The lorry is fitted with the latest set of mirrors and has all round cameras and detectors to pick up cyclists or pedestrians close by. It is, however, the direct vision of the high risk areas to the front and nearside of the lorry that greatly reduces the risk of it hitting a cyclist when turning left.

Cemex driver Tyrone Lawther cycles to work every day and also rides at weekends. The benefits of being at eye leve with other road users are immediately obvious to him.

When seen beside a conventional construction lorry the difference is stunning. The driver of the lorry on the left has to rely on checking many mirrors and a camera system. Even then he has very little view of a cyclist in the extreme risk position for a left turn; that is 2-4 metres out from the left front wheel.

The new lorry is very similar to the concept design produced by LCC in 2013 as a challenge to the construction industry. We are looking to other manufacturers to match the Mercedes offering. The campaign has already begun to get developers and contractors to specify this type of design as the only safe option for heavy lorries in London.

The main difference is that the new lorry has only one front axle and an extra steering axle at the rear. That allows it to make easier turns on narrow streets. The front of the new lorry is only 370 mm above street level compared to 685 for the "off-road" spec vehicle beside it. It can still carry a full 20 ton load of aggregate or other material. For rough ground driving the driver can raise the air suspension and not get caught in the mud and potholes.

Large lorries don't have many crashes with cyclists, but when they do the outcome can be horriffic. Half the cyclist fatalities in London involve large lorries. That is why we have been campaigning consistently to reduce the danger from these vehicles. Every cyclist should take heed of our advice on how to stay safe around large lorries.

 

 

 


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"Lawless and Selfish" Lorry Driver Sentenced to 3½ Years Jail

Judge Daniel Worsley has sentenced the unlicensed lorry driver who killed a cyclist to three and half years in jail and banned him from driving for 10 years. 

At Blackfriars Crown Court the judge addressed the driver, Barry Meyer, 53, as being "consistently lawless and selfish in your disregard of the safety of road users". His "cavalier attitude to driving caused a needless death and righteous horror".

Mr Meyer has a string of driving convictions and has been banned several times. After the last ban he re-applied for a car licence but did not bother to apply for his HGV licence to be renewed. He was driving without a licence and without insurance.

London Cycling Campaign understands that the Police have no plans to prosecute the lorry company that allowed Mr Meyer to drive without properly checking that he had a valid licence. LCC has written to the Traffic Commissioner for London and South East England asking that the company's Operator Licence be revoked and that the managers are not allowed to operate in another company.

In July 2013 Mr Meyer drove his 32 ton tipper lorry through a red light at Proctor Street in Holborn, stopping illegally in the yellow hatched area, blocking the junction area for half a minute. He was trying to keep up with a friend in another lorry in front.

Cyclists, including the victim Alan Neve, coming through the green light on High Holborn were forced to ride through the blocked traffic. When the traffic began to clear the lorry driver accelerated quickly, running over Mr Neve who was killed instantly. Based on the evidence prepared for the case the judge said that if the driver had kept a proper lookout he "could and should have seen" the cyclist in the left side mirror and for a further four seconds when his cycle helmet would have been visible in front of the driver.

The court was shown very distressing video footage taken from a camera on the lorry and from other vehicles. The lorry's own camera clearly shows the driver going through the first stop line into the ASL "cyclists' area" on an amber light and continuing over the second stop line through a red light. The video showed how the cyclist had clearly overtaken the lorry before it accelerated after him.

The harm that this careless driving caused was made clear by the impact statement from Alan's widow. It was read out in court by the prosecuting barrister Miss Hunter. It is a tragic statement; she says: "It is impossible to fully convey how Alan's death has affected me." She recalls how she visited him at least once a day in the chapel of rest before the funeral. She describes how when living with Alan her "life used to be vividly and richly coloured and now it is black and white."

The judge took this level of harm into account in the sentencing. He also referred to the impact statement of a witness who is so traumatised that he was unable to work for a year and is still unable to drive, ride a bicycle or return to central London where the crash happened.

The judge set the jail sentence close to the maximum that is allowed by official guidelines. Despite the defence counsel suggesting that the cyclist had "put himself into a position of danger", the judge ruled that the level of carelessness was "right at the top of the bracket" set out in the sentencing guidelines. He said that the lorry driver was "in control of a potentially highly destructive vehicle" and that he "should be aware that there is a blind spot" in front of the vehicle. In that situation the judge's opinion is that the driver has "a need to take special care".

The jail sentence was increased because of Meyer's appalling driving record and because he was unlicensed and uninsured. The judge also mentioned that his tachograph records showed excessive, illegal driving hours twice in the previous ten days.

After Alan's death thousands of cyclists joined LCC in a "Flash Ride" protest calling for protection through Space for Cycling and action against lethal lorries. Since then we have seen prototypes based of "Direct Vision" tipper lorries on London's streets. These are based on a challenge we put out to the construction industry a few months before this tragic collision.

When asked by an ITV reporter after the sentencing hearing "are London's streets safe for cycling", our LCC spokesperson was able to say "they are safer today with this driver in jail and banned from driving for the next ten years".

 

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Join London Cycling Campaign

As a membership charity we rely on funds raised through subscriptions from individuals who share our vision of making London the best cycling city in the world. If you share our vision and want to help create Space for Cycling please join LCC today.



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Have your say on plans for Quietway 2 in Islington

ICAG QW2

Islington Council's consultation on its plans for Quietway 2 closes on Sunday 17 May - so there are just a few days left to ask the council to take out rat running motor traffic to make safe and inviting space for cycling.

We've welcomed the Quietways programme in principle. London desperately needs routes that are suitable for everyone to cycle, and take people where they want to go. But it’s absolutely essential that these routes are actually ‘quiet’ – the routes must be high-quality, direct, and cater for all cycling abilities, and they must provide safe and convenient passage through junctions. Where the routes use residential roads which often suffer from ‘rat running’ – where vehicles cut through residential areas to reach their destination, rather than using main roads - measures must be taken to reduce high motor traffic volumes or speeds. 

LCC and its local group, Islington Cyclists' Action Group, have concerns that plans for Quietway 2 in Islington don't address the needs to reduce motor traffic levels in the area. We think this is something that can be resolved by introducing point closures on some of the roads along the route, which would prevent rat running traffic and make the route safer and more inviting for cycling. ICAG Committee Member Tom Harrison says: "It's a numbers game; if enough people tell the council they want to remove rat running, then the council will budge. Until then, we are left with the status quo of high volumes of motor traffic, and illegal pollution."

The map below, produced by ICAG, shows their recommended point closures and comments. 

ICAG have published their response to the consultation, and are asking people who cycle or who would like to cycle in Islington to respond before the deadline.

Find out more about reducing through motor traffic

Respond to the consultation

 

 

 


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New study finds it's six times more expensive to travel by car than cycle

A new study of Copenhagen has found that it's six times more expensive for society, and for individuals, to travel by car instead of cycling. 

The study uses a cost benefit analysis that looks at road wear, air pollution, health, congestion, noise, travel route and climate change. It found that each km travelled by car or bike incurs a cost to society, though the cost of car driving is more than six times higher (Euro 0.50/km) than cycling (Euro 0.08/km). Moreover, while the cost of car driving is likely to increase in the future, the cost of cycling appears to be declining.

The study, Transport transitions in Copenhagen: Comparing the cost of cars and bicycles, is by Stefan Gössling from Lund University and Andy S. Choi from the University of Queensland. 


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New Santander Cycles app makes hiring easier

Cycle hire

Santander Cycles, the new sponsor of London's cycle hire scheme, has launched a new app which sends the bike release code directly to your phone, so you can hire a cycle without having to use the docking station terminal. The app also shows you the nearest docking station and availability.

Transport for London say that all customers need to do is register with their bank card, use the App to 'hire now' from a nearby docking station, and just tap the code into a docking point to release a bike for use. The app also lets you buy 24 hour and annual subscriptions.

Mayor Boris Johnson says in their media release: 'The new Santander Cycles App will make finding and hiring a bike in our great Capital city even more of a doddle. The App is packed full of handy new features and is part and parcel of our plans to take the cycle hire scheme to the next level and encourage more people on to two wheels.'

Nathan Bostock, CEO of Santander UK, said: 'We're absolutely committed to growing and developing Santander Cycles together with TfL by making more bikes available, providing more docking stations and offering extra benefits in future to give Londoners and visitors to the Capital the best possible experience.'

The Santander Cycles App is available for both IOS and Android devices, from the Apple Store and Google Play.

 

 

 


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Product review: Overade Plixi

OVERADE PLIXI
£79.99
upgradebikes.co.uk

 

In the last 12 months the cycling industry’s seen a rash of new helmet innovations, including several of a folding design aimed at commuters. According to the Paris-based founder of Overade, the main reason urban cyclists don’t wear a helmet is “the inconvenience of carrying it when you’re not on the bike”. So he invented the Plixi to appeal particularly to users of the popular Velib cycle hire scheme and other space-starved bike riders. 

While most other ‘folding’ designs merely concertina together, not actually reducing overall bulk very much, the Plixi is more sophisticated, using a three-stage hinge and slide mechanism.

From folded you simply spread the two halves apart, pull out the sides and slide to the back down to secure it all together; it takes less than ten seconds and results in a very secure and stylish shell that conforms to European safety standards.

The chinstrap’s fully adjustable (with chinguard) and two sets of Velcro-attachable pads can be mixed and matched to find the most comfortable fit. 

There’s two size options — S/M (54-58cm) and L/XL (59-62cm) — but we found the former a bit too snug at the temples and stuck with the larger. Luckily the deliberately low-profile shape ensures you dont look like you’re wearing an upturned canoe and 14 vents ensure your noggin’s kept well ventilated.

It comes with its own pouch and a removable peak is available for an extra tenner. Folding down to a third of its size will impress a lot of people — managing it with aesthetic appeal will likely impress even more. 

Review: John Kitchiner



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London Cycle Sportive - discount for LCC supporters

Calling all London Cycling Campaign riders - if you're looking to get fit for the summer season, look no further than the London Cycle Sportive. LCC supporters can avail of an exclusive 20% discount to the ride, which takes place on Sunday 10 May.

The London Cycle Sportive is an exciting ride that offers distances to cater for all abilities - 48km, 104km and 166km. It's famous for its scenic start in Dulwich Park, a timed climb up the cycling mecca, Box Hill and a finish at the 1948 Olympic Velodrome at Herne Hill.

The route covers many of the same, iconic roads as the London 2012 Olympic cycling road race.

The event village, in the centre of the outdoor velodrome, will for the first time ever offer cyclists the chance to relax with a refreshing beer and a barbeque with the other finishers and family and friends at the end.

Human Race Events are offering London Cycling Campaign supporters 20% off entry into this year’s event. Simply go to the event website, and enter using the PIN code LCCLCS15 to unlock the discount. The event closes for entries at 9pm on Monday 4 May.


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UK government ordered to take action on air quality

Air pollution in London by Rhys Herbert

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the UK government must deliver new plans to address illegal levels of air pollution in Britain by the end of the year.

The ruling means the Government must start work on a comprehensive plan to meet pollution limits as soon as possible. Among the measures that it must consider are low emission zones, congestion charging and other economic incentives.

London Cycling Campaign believes everyone should have the right to clean air, so we’re delighted by the ruling. In London, an equivalent of 4,300 deaths in London is attributed to air quality related illness. The creation of the Ultra Low Emission Zone is welcome, but won’t take effect until 2020, and doesn’t go far enough, meaning it won't result in EU quality targets being met across London. Reducing emissions leads to a more inviting environment for cycling – which in turn is good news for air quality. We look forward to swift action by the next government to tackle our abysmal record on air pollution.

Handing down the judgement on behalf of the five Justices who heard the case, Lord Carnwath said on Wednesday morning: “The new government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue." Footage of the judgement summary can be watched below.

The ruling is the culmination of a five year legal battle fought by ClientEarth for the right of British people to breathe clean air, and will save thousands of lives a year by forcing the Government to urgently clean up pollution from diesel vehicles, the main source of the illegal levels of nitrogen nioxide found in many of the UK’s towns and cities.

ClientEarth runs the Healthy Air campaign, of which the London Cycling Campaign is proud to be a partner. 

 

 


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