A one-day cyclist awareness module is now being offered to lorry drivers in London as part of their regular training. It's made up of a theory/discussion session which gives them a chance to talk about any issues they may have with cyclists, along with a practical session that offers a cyclist's eye view of travelling in the capital.
"It shows the drivers what it's like to be in the saddle," a spokesman for the London Cycling Campaign told BikeRadar: "It's a sort of exchanging places exercise and helps them understand what riding strategy a cyclist might be adopting," he said, adding that the module includes basic Bikeability (cycling proficiency) type training.
The module is being offered as part of the training for the Certificate of Professional Competence, which has to be held by all British lorry drivers and includes regular training updates. Similar sessions were available previously, but now that the costs are covered as part of the CPC training, take-up looks set to rise considerably.
The London Cycling Campaign feel this is an important step forward. They've been fighting for the adoption of cyclist awareness training by the London Boroughs through their No More Lethal Lorries campaign because of the large number of cyclist/lorry collisions. (About half of cycling deaths in the capital occur in accidents involving lorries even though HGVs make up only five percent of traffic.)
The idea started in Lambeth, where the borough's cycling officer had observed an HGV awareness session for cyclists and realised that lorry drivers needed similar training. A formal course for council and contractor drivers was set up, with a number of other London boroughs following suit.
The LCC have been working to encourage every borough to join in, and they're hopeful that the latest development will help pave the way for all lorry drivers working in London to get cyclist awareness training.
Some private fleet operators will now automatically have access to training too, as long as they're members of the Freight Operator Recognition Scheme run by Transport for London, which aims to raise standards within the London freight industry. Their spokesman said: "We'd like to see it adopted throughout the country... a lot of drivers come into London so it would be great if local authorities and lorry operators around the country adopted it."