“Setback” for safer lorry rules

12.00 | 11 December 2014 | | 21 comments

An EU deal to postpone the introduction of new rules enabling safer lorry designs has been described as “a setback for road safety” by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).

Representatives of EU member states, the European Parliament and the European Commission met last night (10 Dec) to find an agreement on the new legislation which will enable, but not require, manufacturers to make changes to lorry cabs that improve visibility and reduce the impact of crashes on other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

ETSC says the deal, which is still subject to agreement by member states at a meeting on 12 December and a vote by the European Parliament, effectively delays the optional changes until 2022.

Antonio Avenoso, executive director of ETSC, said: “These changes could prevent up to 900 deaths a year on European roads, so any delay will cost lives.

“The idea that these road safety innovations should be subject to a moratorium to enable all manufacturers to compete equally is without precedent.

“Just imagine how many more lives would have been lost if innovations like seat belts and electronic stability control had been held back from the market for similar reasons."

Earlier this week Boris Johnson, Chris Boardman and Kate Cairns, founder of the road safety campaign group, See Me Save Me, lobbied in support of the revised regulations which would allow the introduction of lorries with aerodynamic cabs including crumple zones and larger windows to the front and side. (road.cc)

Talking to road.cc, Boris Johnson, mayor of London, said: “The way lorry cabs are designed currently means drivers are often unable to see cyclists and pedestrians until it is too late. Eliminating blind spots is an obvious and relatively simple way for vehicle manufacturers to help save lives.

“I’d urge the DfT to push ahead with supporting these plans, which will remove some of the blockages which prevent us from making lorries safer.”

Chris Boardman, British Cycling policy advisor, said that “postponing this until 2025 is not an option” and added: “These vehicles are involved in a disproportionately high number of fatalities involving people on bikes and only better designed cabs can put a stop to this.”

According to road.cc, a spokeswoman for the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association said that rather than redesiging cabs, equipping lorries with features such as cameras and proximity sensors is a “more efficient way to improve safety.”



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    I would like to draw the attention of readers to articles that appear in The National Cycling Charity, Cycling Campaigners Newsletters December 2014 (www.ctc.org.uk). I may not ride at present but I am in touch through relatives, friends and the media as to what is going on. My wife is registered with several cycling and other road safety charities so I am made aware of what is happening from their point of view.

    There is an interesting article produced by Rhia Weston, their Road Safety Campaigner, on just this subject.

    As a Bye the Bye CEMAX, the company owner of the vehicle which was involved in the death in 2004 of Alex McVity, has been visited by Rhia and the report by her states that CEMAX is at the forefront of pushing for greater safety. Not only by itself but through a number of other organisations promoting safer design and interventions.

    It has developed split screen TV, as I have previously mentioned that gives the driver almost complete coverage of all the surround of their vehicles and sensors that will detect close proximity.

    On a sadder note, since the death of Alex in 2004, mentioned they have been involved in two other fatal incidents with cyclists/pedestrians and on both of those occasions have been found blameless of any wrongdoing. So it’s not just the HGVs to blame.

    Bob Craven Lancs Space is Safe Campaigner.
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    May I venture to put forward this point for future discussion as I am sure it will.
    The article spoke about the legislation being possibly delayed (not every country is in agreement at this moment in time). Whether it is or not it will be merely academic as it is going to be an option to be made available and not a legal requirement. That is to the voluntary alteration of the present design of HGV cabs. Should it come into being it will merely be a manufacturer’s option and not as some would argue or believe an absolute.

    I believe that the option will not be taken up by the industry on the one count that such alterations may reduce considerably the structural integrity of the cab thus reducing its ability to keep the driver safe. We will have to wait and see the outcome in the future.

    I believe that a subsequent option and one that is being put forward, I believe by some manufacturers and one would be more acceptable to them and drivers will be the installation of proximity meters and of cameras that will be split screen and enable the driver to see better whatever is going on around him. This is similar to whatever is already installed or available for say reversing for some vehicles etc.

    bob craven Lancs Space is Safe Campaigner..
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    I cannot disagree with all that you say Matt but it seems to me that you are picking out points that in fact you apparently agree with but are creating an argument against me personally. Can I dare presume that you are a cyclist and a pro active one, then one can therefore understand where you are coming from and that you will be defending the rights of the cyclists.

    I would not like to think that I have muddled thinking as being on two wheels for most years of my life be it cycling or motorcycling I do take in a broader and objective viewpoint. Common sense and a lifetime experience count for a great deal of knowledge, no matter how obtained.

    I feel that there is no point in defending my previous statements as it appears that it will merely prolong your argument. I stand by them and trust that they would be read as a whole and not dissected in isolation. I see no purpose would be achieved in continuing this discourse as I believe that anything that I say will be used as an argument against whatever I say and of a personal attack upon my right to comment.

    As previously said I leave it to other regular contributors to evaluate my contribution and to form their own opinions of its content.

    Bob Craven Lancs Space is Safe campigner
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    You seem adept at trying to change the meaning of what you have written. In your latest comment you say:
    “When it comes to space it’s not only that cyclists should give space to juggernauts. I said give space to juggernauts and the like. I said that the answer was space and that means that ALL vehicles on the road today do not give sufficient space to others and they should.”

    But what you actually wrote earlier was:
    “What I would recommend is that cyclists recognise all the possible dangers through training or the HC. And give a lot of SPACE (Space is Safe] to these juggernauts or the like.”

    I think it is clear that you were saying it was up to cyclists to give space to juggernauts. You did NOT say any thing about juggernauts or any other vehicles giving space to cyclists. That is of course important and failure to do so has caused many of the most serious casualties.

    You also wrote:
    “I would have thought that it would be the duty and responsibility of the cyclists to keep themselves as safe as is possible on our roads”

    True but it is also the duty of all road users not to endanger others. This particularly applies to drivers sending tons of steel hurtling down roads that are also used by vulnerable road users. That is not only cyclists but also pedestrians and horse riders not to mention the users of mobility scooters some of whom have to use our country lanes. Your quote above is typical of the victim blaming approach of so many self styled safety campaigners.

    In your second paragraph you start telling cyclists how to ride:
    “So if identified as a danger and on a bike (I have in the past ridden one for a few years) I would slow, pull up or stop until the danger has passed and then give that vehicle as with any other more space.”
    I think the clue to much of the nonsense you write is there: You have in the past ridden one. Those of us who are riding regularly today in both city and country know a lot more about the problems cyclists face on today’s roads than someone with muddled memories from the past. One of the greatest problems we face is people pontificating who haven’t ridden for years, usually since thy got their first motor bike or car.

    You say:
    “As regards the wind, which I would believe is minimal in a street scenario,”

    This shows just how out of touch you are. Wind can be a very significant factor in city streets, not that it is stronger than in the country but rather that it is more variable and unpredictable. It is funnelled down gaps between buildings and deflected by large buildings and even by large vehicles. But when I referred to the massive buffeting wind as HGVs pass at many times the cyclists speed, I was thinking of country roads where HGV are travelling at often illegally high speeds. If they pass too close this unpleasant and can be dangerous especially when there is also a cross wind.

    But don’t get the idea I am against HGV drivers. I have a lot of respect for most of them. There are exceptions of course, but most are courteous and behave well towards other road users. But they are being pushed into driving against very tight schedules with ever bigger vehicles on roads that are not suitable. We now have the scenario of the single carriageway HGV limit being raise to 50 mph to please the fleet managers not the drivers. But the drivers need better visibility to eliminate blind spots. Though I don’t drive an HGV, I have sat in the driver’s seat at a demonstration for cycle safety. I was appalled by the number of bikes parked close to the large articulated truck that could not be seen from the drivers seat. That is why these safer lorry rules are important and why it is outrageous that they are being delayed for the commercial advantage of certain companies.

    If you get out on a bike and ride a few thousand miles a year in both city and country as I have done for many years then you may be qualified to write on the subject. At present you just demonstrate how out of touch you are.

    Matt Scorton
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    In my nice safe car, would I ‘argue’ over road space with a truck on a roundabout, no, I just hang back if I think there is not enough room. Just basic logic. But it seems this ‘logic’ is lost on many urban cyclists, who think they have a right to re-design trucks because of their own stupidity, force me to drive at speeds that might mean I might get to my destination before them and reduce two lane roads to one lane, plus a cycle lane, so they are not inconvenienced by other traffic.

    The fact is if bicycles were not invented to now, health and safety regulations would not allow them on the road!

    On another point I see some ‘expert’ says that ‘X’ amount of lives will be saved if legislation is changed. It makes me wonder with all the legislation introduced over the last couple of decades, all based on the amount of ‘lives it will save’, it is amazing that anybody is injured on the roads!

    Terry Hudson, Kent
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    Surely when looking at the costs of on/off-loading products onto smaller vehicles then the cost should be compared to the overall cost of the product rather than the cost of the inter-city journey. If the latter is less than on the continent then this only means that total freight cost is cheaper and hence there is more room for a community supportive use of smaller vehicles.

    It appears that your logic simply reflects your prejudice against any form of transport other than the motor vehicle.

    Rod King, 20’s Plenty for Us
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    Sorry Matt, I didn’t answer your question did I. When it comes to space it’s not only that cyclists should give space to juggernauts. I said give space to juggernauts and the like. I said that the answer was space and that means that ALL vehicles on the road today do not give sufficient space to others and they should. It therefore works the same for juggernaut drivers, coach drivers, bus driver, bin men and all to give space to other road users. I was not singling out juggernauts as it applies to all vehicles and in all circumstances.

    As regards the passage of large vehicles causing distress and danger to cyclists you will agree that it’s not always the larger vehicle that is to blame and that may be shown in stats19. If a vehicle was to overtake a cyclists and appears by the rider to be to close and a danger then one has to eliminate or at least reduce that possible danger. One cannot go forward as the danger may increase, certainly if it appear that the large vehicle is moving in on the space in front. So if identified as a danger and on a bike (I have in the past ridden one for a few years) I would slow, pull up or stop until the danger has passed and then give that vehicle as with any other more space.
    As regards the wind, which I would believe is minimal in a street scenario, we can all suffer from it and its something that should be taken into account. If one cannot take that into account then it’s about time one found a safer mode of transport. Perhaps getting off and walking would be safer.

    Many incidents are created by the cyclists mainly due to the fact that they are front orientated only. They rarely look to the sides and not many if any take rearward observation. Had they rear view mirrors to assist they could take into account any traffic building up behind them and ride accordingly. They need to know what’s going on around them just as a driver of a large vehicle does, even more so as they have a greater vulnerability.

    bob craven Lancs …. Space is Safe Campaigner
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    We move a much higher proportion of freight by HGV than on the Continent because our distances are much shorter so that the costs and delays of on-loading and off-loading to trucks are higher in proportion. And if anyone really thinks that the efficiency of shipping freight, a vital part of our efficiency as a now struggling nation, should be prejudiced in the interests of cyclists, that is surely putting the horse before the cart.

    As a manufacturer from the dismal days of Parcel Post to the relatively free-market 1990’s I was delighted in the later years to have contracts guaranteeing late afternoon collection and morning deliver from and to anywhere in the country, at a fixed price. This was made possible by centrally placed depots receiving from and sending to local depots by HGV’s able to do the return trips overnight. Huge numbers of firms and (increasingly) retail customers depend on these services and to dismiss this as a matter of corner-shop owners needing to order sooner is simply nonsense.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    I have not changed my tune. Please read all my articles and I believe that it gives a balanced view of safety. There are many facets to road safety. One is engineering and the streets should be suitable for purpose and as safe as engineers can make them. As per my previous statements no provision has been made for cyclists in any numbers for many years and it is the sheer volume of take up of cyclists that has identified problems that did not occur previously.

    So given that base as a start it beholds everyone on the roads to behave in as safe a way as possible. This means education, therefore training, following the recommendations in the Highway Code and a safe approach to all possible dangers and the identification of those dangers.

    As a vulnerable road user I use all my safety skills in keeping as much space between me and any other vehicle or possible source of danger. That means realising every move I make has a consequence when there is a possible conflict or circumstances which may lead to conflict with other traffic.

    Unfortunately it would appear that some cyclists do not appreciate that and therefore get themselves into situation that they shouldn’t. We have all done it and some have learned by it.

    bob craven Lancs….. Space is safe Campaigner.
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    Previously you said cyclists needed to give space to Juggernauts. Now you have changed your tune: “Unfortunately none or to little space has been allotted to cyclists within our road structure for many years”.

    I can certainly agree with that but we are where we are in cities and we need to address the danger by addressing the cause – dangerous vehicles and dangerous driving which kills and injures pedestrians, cyclists and car occupants. We need to make the HGVs safer as soon as possible not when it suits a few truck makers. Until then we should have severe restrictions on the larger HGVs using city streets. They should be confined to specified major roads.

    Matt Scorton
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    Derek wrote: “The delays experienced at transhipment depots via rail are often unacceptable in time”.

    So this justifies killing people on our roads because the shop keeper doesn’t want to have to wait a bit longer for a delivery? Are we to remain for ever a nation ruled by the demands of shop keepers who are too lazy or inefficient to order in time?

    The delays at airports caused by security checks are inconvenient but we have to accept them for safety. We need to learn that safety on the roads also justifies longer delivery times and longer personal travel times.

    Matt Scorton
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    I stand by what I say. Space is the answer. Unfortunately none or to little space has been allotted to cyclists within our road structure for many years. That said its hard, indeed impossible, for engineers to make provision for something that didn’t exist isn’t it. After all we don’t make provision for hovercraft do we?

    Our roads were never meant to carry the volume of traffic it does today. Indeed at one time many years ago it was full of cyclists and motorcyclists, 40% of all traffic was two wheeled. Those days died in the 1960s when the general wealth of the nation improved and social and cultural changes took us upon the path we have followed since then. Unlike some of our counterparts abroad who due to whatever restraints they had did not enjoy the changes we accepted and undertook gladly.

    So we have a system now that cannot cope with copious cyclists in a safe and reasonable manner and road design will have to change to accommodate them either with total segregation or partial integration. Whatever the result it will be some time before that happens and the results acceptable to all (the majority that is). In the meantime deaths and other injuries will occur due in some part to the cyclists themselves and or otherwise by other road users.

    bob craven Lancs Space is Safe Campaigner
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    To look who is currently in control of European safety regulations, do not look to the EU or Brussels – look to Geneva: http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=85359

    As to why we have so called juggernauts on the roads of Britain, it’s the economics of scale. Whilst Beeching is slighted as being the murderer of branch lines, his actions saved the railways from a faster financial ruin. We bemoan the loss of local lines, but so often they ran lightly occupied and often empty. Goods by rail is economical when bulk materials are carried; coal and oil. But when goods are required from distribution depot to shop, road wins every time. The delays experienced at transhipment depots via rail are often unacceptable in time.

    The modern day cyclist has been educated in preferential terms with cycle lanes and riding on pavements, marketed as ‘Green’ and healthy. The segregation of existing road space has caused a tarmac apartheid. I have long said no good will come of segregation – and no good is coming from it. Our roads are more congested – and cyclists are being fed like Sparrows to the Hawks. They are vulnerable, they are fragile. They need to know this. External protection is false – it needs to come from within.

    Derek Reynolds, Salop.
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    Interesting to follow this legislation and the associated issues.

    Let’s start perhaps with the large and fast trucks issue. It was in 1957 that the maximum speed limit for the then maximum weight HGV (24T) was raised from 20mph to 30mph and only in 1967 was the speed raised to 40mph and weight again increased. The railway also – along with the Nationalised BRS road freight operation ceased to be the recognised and required common carrier, and commercial freight operations began to develop as operators took up the licences now available thriough the Traffic Commissioners.

    The connection between the steady increases in weight & speed of trucks and the rate of road damage, seems to have more than a coincidental connection.

    Now moving on to the issue of collisions between trucks and other road users. If we were starting afresh with a rigorous assessment of the hazardous design issues very few of the current truck designs would be permitted to operate on our roads. It beggars belief that vehicles with such poor direct vision, and unnecessarily large ground clearances for their use on public roads are permitted to operate with so little restriction, and further to that there is such poor investigation of any incidents to deliver clear and enforceable direction to manage out the hazards and control the risk when a hazard cannot be totally eliminated. There is a pile of rubbish being put out as safety measures, relating to that classic left hook that results in death or serious injury for a cyclist when the driver of an HGV drives through the path of the cyclist. Frankly it is a pretty sickening message of unjustified victim blaming when trucks and other vehicles carry the don’t pass on the left notices, when a basic review of crashes points mainly to the situation arising because the truck driver has partially overtaken the cyclist and then turned left, in many cases turning from the right hand side of the road because the geometry is unsuitable for a large vehicle making a left turn, and should be changed, or the left turns banned.

    It isn’t just cyclists though. Truck drivers are wiping out all those in a car when they drive over cars in Motorway crashes, or wipe out pedestrians because the driver chooses to operate in an unsafe way.

    We have to get truck design better to increase the extent of (technology-free) direct vision between the driver and those outside, as eye contact is as much a means to see as it is to communicate in a very fast non verbal way what your next planned move is on the road. We need published and very clear investigations which are objective and non-judgemental, from which action to prevent a repeat of the same event can be taken.

    30 years ago the UK’s railways were killing at rates that were simply accepted as a fact of life, and then we had a watershed, Hatfield, Potters Bar, Ladbroke Grove, and Lord Cullen saw that ‘vision zero’ could be delivered if the railway industry stopped that acceptance the ‘it happens’ and made safety a priority, with the objective investigations from RAIB, published and used by the rail regulators to hold operators to account – we’ve not had a passenger killed on the UK rail network since 2007, and with a cruel irony a couple of years ago the only staff death was in a road crash en route to the work site.

    This could be achieved for roads but we will need to have a matching independent and public investigation of incidents to replace the badly flawed current regime of Section 39 mandated from roads authorities to inspect their provision of the roads, and the natural bias of Police and insurance investigations to find a party who is guilty or liable as their key focus.

    Dave Holladay
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    Should trucks be made safer? Yes, we still lack automated tiredness checking, we still allow trucks on the road with poor visibility, we still send trucks onto the road who drive a wall of air around them and we still allow trucks to use diesel which damages the health of the inhabitants of the country and especially the health of the poor who tend to live next to major roads.

    Not sure who these new cyclists are, I’ve been riding a bike for 45 years now and I give big trucks a very wide berth as it is obvious that while drivers are often very skilled they have to be distracted for only a moment (a pretty girl, a mobile phone, a radio programme) and death appears. However, it is fair to say that it is planners who have let both trucks and bicycles down and both types of user need to push the planners to improve facilites for all.

    Cyclists are not the new boys, it is massive trucks.

    Bilbo Burgler, Otley
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    You tell cyclists to give space to HGVs like you did as a motorcyclist. But don’t you realise bicycles and not quite like motor cycles. Motor cycles travel as fast as the HGV or faster and have the speed to keep at a safe distance. Cyclists can’t give space to HGVs that come up behind them and several times their speed and pass far to close with massive buffeting wind or the HGV that starts to overtake then starts to pull in as soon as his front wheels are past the cyclist. They can’t give space to the HGV that pulls up behind them at the traffic lights so close the driver can’t see them below his dashboard.

    Yes cyclists can avoid going down the left of an HGV that is swinging out to turn left but that is just about the only time the cyclist can give the HGV the SPACE you keep repeating.

    Matt Scorton Lancs
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    Got to reply to Rod’s statement.

    I thought that with his senior years Rod would understand that it is our history that has caused the present situation. 70 years of road making and no conscious consideration of anything on two wheels, after all why should there be when we can all afford cars or three or four per family. Add to that 60 years of reducing railways (Beeching) unlike our continental cousins who send the vast majority of their freight by rail over much longer distances than we can ever match.

    That’s why juggernauts are within our city and town boundaries. Also the continent has given us bigger and bigger juggernauts, primarily to be used on continental roads ie motorways. Thank you. They are allowed into this country and onto our overcrowded and smaller narrower road systems which cannot cope with them. Fortunately over that period of time there has been no problem with cyclists then as there is now. It’s the cyclists who are the new guys on the block and causing everyone headaches and problems. Nothing more than that and the more we encourage cycling the more will be killed or seriously injured on our roads. I have said that before.

    bob craven Lancs….. Space is Safe Campaign
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    Surely we should be asking why such “juggernauts” should actually be on our crowded urban network which in the UK is notably lacking in its provision for cyclists.

    In many other countries town and city authorities control the use of such vehicles in city centres. They design junctions and cycle path priority that minimises conflict between HGVs and cyclists, and their presumed liability laws provide a legal framework for a duty of care based on danger to others.

    All of this is a product of a “safe system” approach which we still seem to be failing to embrace in this country.

    Rod King, 20’s Plenty for Us
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    Thanks you for your support Dave.

    When motorcyclists were the bane of the road safety community it was so often considered or murmured to be a case of they are their own worst enemy and it was their fault, they shouldn’t have been there in the first place or they must accept 50% blame worthiness. Now we are talking about bicycles and according to this article it’s never their fault. Is it now to be considered that everyone else is to blame. Now and in the future.

    I did day some time ago that we would be seeing changes and new legislation in order to accommodate this new phenomena, cycling. It now looks like my prediction is turning true sooner than expected. What I would recommend is that cyclists recognise all the possible dangers through training or the HC. And give a lot of SPACE (Space is Safe] to these juggernauts or the like. After all, they are mainly car drivers with a definite car drivers mentality.

    bob craven Lancs Space is Safe Campaigner
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    Bob is very right to highlight the way in which many cyclists entrust their safety to drivers of larger vehicles. Some cyclists will do things like undertake, leaving themselves no escape route if the vehicle turns left, trusting the driver to make effective mirror checks and see them. While different designs of truck may improve matters, there will probably still be blind spots, and the job of a driver will become increasingly complex as he has a variety of sensors to check before moving off and while on the move. As a cyclist I do not want to rely on a sensor that may not work well, or a driver who may be inattentive for some reason. I trust only one person to make sure that I get to survive my cycle trip, and that is me. I will get nowhere near them, and if that means that my journey takes slightly longer due to my inability to get to the front of a traffic queue, then so be it. The DfT campaign to look out for each other is good, but in my opinion it needs to go a little further to emphasise how cyclists ought to behave in the vicinity of bigger vehicles.

    David, Suffolk
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    My first question is… is this a problem in mainland Europe or has it mainly been created recently in this country. I know that a far, far greater % of freight goes by HGV in this country than by our counterparts abroad and therefore there must be a greater and increasing risk due to the more promotion of cyclists we encourage onto the roads. If we look back some 10 years what were the figures of such or similar incidents between pedestrians and cyclists and HGVs then compared to now?

    I must say that when I am on my motorcycle I have the greatest regard to HGVs (not particularly the drivers) due to their large size and my own vulnerability. It seems therefore that cyclists do not share these fears or misgivings and put themselves at risk. After all if I cannot see the driver then I presume that he cannot see me and I stay away from him as far away as possible or make myself known to him making eye to eye contact.

    I would have thought that it would be the duty and responsibility of the cyclists to keep themselves as safe as is possible on our roads, well that’s what I was told by a police traffic sergeant on an advanced ride seminar. Or does that not apply to cyclists, at the moment I think not.

    bob craven Lancs… Space is Safe Campaigner.
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