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London Mayor leads in bid to make lorry design in EU safer for pedestrians and cyclists

11 February 2014

When the European Commission tabled a proposal for the revision of the Weights and Dimensions (W&D) of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in April 2013, cities saw the opportunity to make lorry design safer for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. London, Polis member, has made it a priority to improve the safety dimension in European Commission’s proposal.

Last year, HGV were involved in 9 of the 14 cyclist deaths in London and accounted for 53% of cyclists’ deaths in the city between 2008 and 2012 and only 3% of the traffic. Far from being an exception, other cities in Europe are faced with similar unacceptable figures. In Copenhagen, HGVs were involved in 2 of the 4 cyclist deaths last year. With better cab design, safety of vulnerable road users can be improved.

With the legislation currently being discussed in the Transport Committee of the European Parliament, London mayor Boris Johnson co-signed a letter with mayors of Madrid, Amsterdam and Copenhagen addressed to all members of the Committee. These cities, three of them Polis members, urge MEPs to amend the Commission proposal to make requirements for all new vehicles mandatory, to have safety specifications to improve direct vision and underrun protection, to prioritize safety measures, and to include a definite timeline for the adoption of the requirements.

These demands were echoed in a Joint declaration signed by Polis, London and a number of organizations and presented at a press conference in Brussels end of January 2014 followed by meeting in the European Parliament.

The European Parliament transport committee will be voting on the proposal on the 18th of March before the Plenary adopts final text in April. The Transport Committee has included mandatory requirements to increase safety, specifically mentioning that the cab design must guarantee better vision for the drivers with bigger windscreens, a deflecting ‘round nose’ to throw cyclists to the side and crumple zones’ or shock absorbers, and including a clear timeline for the adoption of these safety requirements (7 years).

These fairly uncontroversial changes would help save lives and increase security on the roads in cities and beyond as well as reduce CO2 emissions. The Council of the European Union will be the next in line to discuss and agree on the proposal once the European Parliament has approved the text in its April plenary. London Mayor Boris Johnson has called on the UK government to revise its position systematically opposing legislation in Brussels, and to support the safety elements in the proposal. The work done in reaching an ambitious deal on the safety elements in the European Parliament must be carried through.

Polis will continue to support London and its members to make sure that the revision of the W&D directive has a strong safety component so as to make its adoption the beginning of a process incentivizing the industry and legislators to pursue the issue of safety related to HGV’s design.

Download the Joint Declaration Safer, cleaner lorries now! co-signed by Polis, London, the European cyclist Federation, Transport&Environment, and others

For further information contact Cleo Davies.