As we know from Boris Johnson’s February 2011 Q&A, there is “simply not enough space to provide segregated cycle facilities” in London. Fortunately, however, there plenty of space in inner London for lorries to speed around our streets, killing whoever is in their path. The most recent fatality was a female pedestrian in Hackney.
Everyone knows that lorries in London are a problem. Indeed, in the Q&A session linked to above, Jenette Arnold, Assembly Member for Hackney, Islington & Waltham Forest, asked the Mayor several questions regarding what he was doing about HGV road safety.
Strangely, after being a question in the context of the death of a vulnerable road user, Mr Johnson did not seem to think that TfL’s July 2010 Memorandum of Understanding (pdf) with the Freight Transport Association (FTA) was worth a mention. I find the memo rather surprising with its talk of “equitable approaches” and other eqiuvocal, unquantifiable intentions.
If I was drafting it, I think I could boil it down to three points:
1. HGVs are allowed to drive around densely populated areas with significant blind spots.
2. HGVs are the heaviest vehicles on the road and when they collide with people, those people are likely to die.
3. You would therefore expect HGVs to kill or seriously injure the highest number of people/km, and they do (pdf, p15).
Still, I’m sure that, “to share details of forthcoming events and announcements with a view to adding value by broader engagement,” is just as important a point for us all to understand.
From the point of view of the FTA, of course, “broader engagement” means that those of us who use the same roads as HGVs can understand how to enjoy “shared space” with >7.5 tonne vehicles. The same people whose website would no doubt have us believe this death was the elderly walker’s fault – she was obviously a “novice” pedestrian.
OK – so clearly I don’t think a weak-willed Memorandum of Understanding is an effective method of reducing the number of people killed by HGVs. The question is whether TfL do. I have put in an FOI request to TfL to find out.
Subject to the FOI Act (2000), TfL have 20 working days to respond.