Cyclists in the UK will die this year because the Government is dragging its heels on vital new safety measures.
That’s according to campaigners who are calling for an European ruling making extra mirrors for lorries compulsory to be introduced immediately.
The European Union directive requiring all HGVs to be fitted with four mirrors was signed off recently.
Countries will have to comply by March 2009, when all lorries in the EU will be required to have the mirrors.
Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark have already introduced the new rule, and the London Cycling Campaign is calling for the UK to follow suit.
It launched a petition calling for immediate action at the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in the UK capital.
More than half of cyclists killed in London die after being hit by a lorry, mostly turning left at junctions.
The extra mirrors are designed to reduce blind spots on lorries and are already compulsory on new vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes following an earlier directive in 2003. But the LCC says it’s vital the law is expanded to require more mirrors on older vehicles as soon as possible.
So far it’s got 400 signatures on its petition, but says this is just the beginning of an more intense campaign. LCC campaigns manager Tom Bogdanowicz told bikeradar that the Government’s own figures estimated 18 cyclists’ lives could be saved each year in the UK by the introduction of the new rule. Across Europe some 400 people are killed annually by lorry drivers who have failed to see them.
Mr Bogdanowicz said: “We campaigned to get the EU to introduce these mirrors to all lorries, not just the new ones. The EU agreed to this and passed the legislation and they’ve said that it needs to be implemented by 2009. We’d like the British government to follow the example of the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark. Implement it now – don’t wait two or three years.”
Campaigners say the cost of retro-fitting the extra mirrors equates to a tank of diesel.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said consultation on expanding the regulation had already taken place.
He added: “There’s no question of us dragging our heels about this. Belgium, Holland and Denmark had similar domestic laws so they implemented it automatically. So that’s why they’re ahead of us. We have been out to consultation already. There’s stuff still to be finalised but we hope to bring it in as soon as we can.”
The LCC is urging people to join its campaign and write to their MEP about the issue. To find out more, visit the LCC website.
On July 18 a cyclist died when he was hit by an HGV on an industrial estate in Wakefield. The rider, who has not been named, was discovered lying in the road at the junction of Ings Road and Charlesworth Way. Police say he had been hit by a lorry which failed to stop.
It is not clear whether the driver realised his vehicle had struck the cyclist, who is believed to have been killed instantly. A 39-year-old man was arrested following the incident and has since been released on police bail pending further enquiries.
© BikeRadar 2007