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Road safety for cyclists – recent developments

Posted on 19th January 2017

Many cyclists suffer catastrophic injury or death in accidents involving HGVs each year. In London alone, 7 of the 9 cyclists killed in 2015 were hit by HGVs. When cyclists and large vehicles collide the outcome is rarely very good for the cyclist and this is an area we must focus on to eliminate or reduce accidents and harm to cyclists.

Transport for London has already introduced a London-wide Safer Lorries Scheme requiring HGVs above 3.5 tonnes to have extra “blind spot” mirrors and side bars to prevent cyclists being pulled under the wheels of left turning vehicles.

TFL also recently announced proposals to require HGVs in the capital to have “direct vision” glass panels in passenger doors, larger windscreens and lower driver positions. Responses to the proposals, reported on in September 2016, demonstrated overwhelming support for improving direct vision for lorry drivers. However, research has shown that fitting glass panels would deliver only a limited improvement in vision for the driver, and it was found not practicable for all vehicle types to be fitted with such glass panels.

As a consequence, the Mayor has now launched the world’s first Direct Vision Standard, along with proposals as to how this might be applied, including prohibiting the most dangerous “off-road” lorries from London’s roads by 2020. The standard assesses and rates the extent to which an HGV driver can see directly from their cab in relation to other road users. There will be a five star rating system in use and the plan is that only HGVs meeting a three star rating will be permitted on London’s roads by 2024. This standard could be the key to ensuring ever greater numbers of safer lorries operating on the streets of our capital.

Furthermore, the emergence of innovative technology, such as the DawesGuard, is also aiming to save the lives of cyclists.

What is the DawesGuard?

The DawesGuard, developed by Dawes Highway Safety, is a revolutionary safety device designed to save the lives of cyclists in metropolitan areas. ROSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) recently reported that around 75% of fatal or serious cyclist accidents occur in urban areas and this product may go some way towards reducing that figure.

What does it do?

The DawesGuard is a safety system which creates a shield across the danger zone between the axles of large vehicles. Therefore, in the event of a collision, it prevents a cyclist falling within that danger zone and significantly reduces the risk of fatal injuries. The Dawes Guard incorporates a drop down technology which is a pneumatically operated inflatable and retractable system that aims to prevent cyclists under run accidents (where a cyclist falls and is dragged under the wheels of a HGV) by creating a protective barrier between the road surface, vehicle underside and vehicle wheels whilst operating on the roads. The panels are made from shatterproof plastic and also reduce the risk of entanglement of clothing and bicycle parts.

Has it been tested?

The DawesGuard made its debut at the Transport for London’s Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety (CLOCS) project on March 23rd 2016. The DawesGuard was fitted to a Dennis Eagle Skip Loader (HGV) and the vehicle was immediately put to work. Along with an ISS ‘cyclear’ & camera system, and Dawes Highway ‘people panels’, the HGV was dubbed as an excellent ‘Urban Safety Vehicle’ and received excellent feedback from construction workers and operatives alike, while on the road people seeing the system also reacted very positively.

Conclusion

It is encouraging to see the development of products and initiatives taking steps to increase the safety of cycling on our roads. We must do all that we can to foster safe cycling throughout the country and in particular in our major cities. Cyclists are one of the most vulnerable road user groups, and whilst it is essential that cyclists remain vigilant on the roads, we also have a duty to protect cyclists from accidents which could clearly have been prevented.

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