IF YOU have ever ridden a bike in London, especially in Hackney, with its high cycle-injury rate, you’ll probably have thought at some time: “If only lorry drivers could be made to see the view from a bicycle.”
Behind a safety award just given to a highways contractor is a story of its coming to pass, thanks to a Hackney cyclist group.
Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers and London Cycling Campaign’s Hackney team, along with the police and the council, have been working together to prevent accidents between lorry drivers and cyclists.
VolkerHighways is the name you often see on HGVs rumbling around the borough because the firm maintains highways for Hackney. And Volker (enough of the stuck-together names) won the award in the Considerate Constructors Scheme.
The roads contractor has been working with Hackney cyclists, the council and the police on schemes
Trevor Parsons, Hackney co-ordinator of London Cycling Campaign, said that Volker had contacted Hackney LCC about trying to stop staff being injured by traffic while working on streets in the borough. Then, he explained, “we started talking to Volker about cycling, too.
“Soon their site inspectors were cycling – and enjoying it – and they joined us on the Hackney HGV Safety Working Group.
“One result was a new urban driving course, which includes practical experience of cycling on-street, and I’m delighted that everyone who drives large vehicles for Volker, as well as for the council, has now been through that course.”
Volker said that some employees had not been on a bike for 30 years and had a negative view of cyclists. But during training their attitude improved and they gained an understanding of cyclists’ body language and why cyclists chose certain road positions.
The award won by Volker was only a bronze, but the firm aims to do better next year. Mark Mascar, VolkerHighways project manager, adds: “We are constantly striving to improve the image of the industry… we have been encouraged to improve year on year.”
Hamish Scott 050414
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.
* Top: VolkerHighways (yuk, that linked-word attempt to make a roads firm cool) supplied the picture but no names of those in it.