New mirrors spearhead London bike safety drive

Three-pronged campaign to stop lorry-cycle accidents

Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) have announced three new measures to tackle the problem of cyclists being injured and killed by lorries in London.

These are: a six-month trial of street cycle safety mirrors; a new awareness campaign aimed at cyclists; and the signing of an agreement with the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

The first Trixi cycle safety mirror to be trialled in a UK city has been installed at a traffic signal in Tooting. These mirrors are designed to give drivers of large vehicles better visibility of cyclists at junctions.

In total, 39 of them will be installed across London for a six-month trial period. The vast majority (37) will be on the Barclays Cycle Superhighways pilot routes, with 31 due to be put in place before the scheme launches on 19 July.

The mirrors are named after a Swiss cyclist, 13-year-old Beatrix Willburger, who was struck and seriously injured by a left turning lorry. Her father has campaigned for their use across Europe.

The issue of lorry-cyclist safety has been highlighted by several incidents in London this year. Last month, a woman was taken to hospital after becoming trapped between a construction lorry and metal railings. In the first three months of 2010 alone, at least three people died in collisions with trucks.

Nigel Hardy, TfL’s Cycle Superhighways project director, said: "These (mirrors) provide a much better view around the vehicle for HGV drivers. It’s also another form of advertising to the driver to check their mirrors, and to cyclists that they should not be on the left-hand side of vehicles."

Asked about the thinking behind the Superhighways, Mr Hardy said the two trial routes were selected by observing ‘the desire lines’ used by cyclists travelling to and from work. He said around 5,000 people a day are already using these two routes, which "we would like to increase by around 20,000 people a day within the next three years".

Backing up the mirrors is a new poster campaign that illustrates the potentially deadly situation cyclists put themselves in if they ride up the left-hand side of lorries at junctions.

And a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed that commits the Mayor, TfL and FTA to working together to improve cycle safety in London by doing the following:

  • Identifying specific locations and times of the day where loading/unloading or commercial vehicle routing might conflict with cycle routes.
  • Identifying training needs for all road users, particularly cyclists and drivers of large vehicles.
  • Examining road traffic enforcement and engineering measures to find a balance between their enforceability and practicality.

TfL are encouraging cyclists and those thinking about starting to commute on two wheels to watch a new two-minute film that reiterates the main point of the safety campaign – "Never pass large vehicles on the inside at junctions – the driver just can’t see you there." You can watch it below:

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