On occasions when I vary my route home on the bicycle I pass a ‘ghost’ bike. For those who are not aware, a ‘ghost’ bike is an old bicycle which has been painted entirely white. Invariably it is tied to railings. It is there as a memorial to a cyclist who was killed at that point in the road.
There are of course many causes for Cycling Accidents. Everyone knows that it is a daily hazard to cycle in London. With winter closing in there is an extra hazard in not being able to see cyclists with longer nights drawing in.
Many Cycling Accidents also involve HGV’s. The simple reason for this is that the driver of the lorry sits in a position, high up from the road that it is difficult to be able to see and have the same connection to other road users. I believe that many of these could be avoided if we were to install extra mirrors in cabs to help drivers identify cyclists better. One other thing which would be harder to implement, but I believe would reduce this is proximity sensors in cabs to alert HGV drivers of a potential hazard. To me this seems like an obvious proposal but cost would be the deciding factor for Transport companies.
The problem with HGV’s is the size and the visibility from the cab. They naturally take longer to come to a halt and are not as easily manoeuvrable as a car. For these reasons alone, they pose quite a significant hazard to cyclists and it comes as no surprise that the majority of those cyclists killed across the country are likely to have been involved in a collision with a lorry. Latest statistics from the department of Transport suggest that Cycling Accidents are up by 9%. Whist the more seriously injured or Fatal Accidents are falling for car and motorbike users, accidents involving cyclist’s remain on a steady increase.
It comes therefore, as a surprise for me to read in The Times yesterday that the proposals of the Road Minister is to increase the speed limit for heavy goods vehicles (weighing more than 7.5 tonnes) from the current 40 miles per hour to 45 or 50 miles per hour. Especially since the mid-year stats from 2012 say that goods vehicles are increasingly being involved in Road Traffic Accidents on non-built up roads where I presume, they would be able to utilise this increase in the speed limit.
No great increase in speed limit on the face of it, but for anyone who has had any dealing with the issue of speed in a Road Traffic Accident, even increasing the speed by 2 or 3 miles per hour let alone 5 or potentially 10 miles per hour, can have devastating consequences.
For example the chances of surviving an impact in a Road Traffic Accident as a pedestrian where the car was travelling at 28 miles per hour are greater than if the car was travelling at 31 miles per hour. Even this small measure of speed which barely registers on a speedometer, can have a significant impact on the chances of surviving a collision.
This at a time when Bradley Wiggins was knocked from his bicycle by a van driver as he was cycling along an A-road in Lancashire, makes the Road Minister’s comments that ‘cycle safety is very much at the heart of transport policy’ equally surprising.