Construction must take responsibility for cycle safety

Peter Murray, New London Architecture

Construction must step  up to the mark when it comes to improving safety for cyclists, says Peter Murray.

When leading town planning consultant Francis Golding was killed in a cycling accident in November 2013 - one of six bike deaths that occurred in London that month - a group of friends and clients decided to do something to reduce the death toll of vulnerable road users on the streets of the capital. 

They set up the Construction Industry Cycling Commission (CICC), chaired by leading developer Mike Hussey of Almacantar, to discover the cause of the large number of accidents involving HGVs and cyclists and what could be done to about it with particular regard to the high percentage involving construction vehicles. 

"As London continues to grow and the volume of building, and cycling, increases, [the death toll of vulnerable road users] is only going to get worse unless something changes."

This work was given new impetus with the death in April of Moira Gemmill, another key figure in the world of building design.

Research carried out by Transport for London (TfL) following the November deaths showed that the number of blind spots in construction vehicle cabs was huge, that road safety was not seen as important as site safety, and there was no industry standard for safety features. 53% of the deaths of cyclists on London roads involved HGVs although they constitute only 4% of traffic. In 2011 seven out of the nine deaths were construction vehicles. 

As London continues to grow and the volume of building, and cycling, increases, this is only going to get worse unless something changes.

TfL set up the Construction Logistics and Cyclist Safety group (CLOCS) which has worked with industry representatives to improve the performance of HGVs. CLOCS’ has pressed for improvements in design and manufacture of lorries, encouraging good practice, training, controlling peak hour movements and routing lorries along roads agreed with the local authority.

The ACE Progress Network (London & South East) is holding a seminar "Going up a Gear - The Future of Cycling" to discuss the issue of cycle safety on 25th June 2015 at Imperial College, featuring Andrew Gilligan, the London Mayor's cycling commissioner. For details and to book click here.

To support the work of CLOCs the CICC commissioned transport planners Phil Jones Associates to investigate in detail the causes of the incidents and to come up with a code of practice that can be followed by the developers, architects, engineers and project managers involved with construction projects.

On Monday 6 July Phil Jones will be presenting his research and facilitating a workshop to discuss that code, how it can be disseminated to the industry, how cycling behaviour and infrastructure can be improved and what other measures can be implemented. 

Anyone who feels they have something to contribute to the discussion is welcome to attend the workshop. The central London venue is to be confirmed. For further information contact me at peter.murray@mac.com

Peter Murray is chairman of New London Architecture and the found of the Cycle to Canne event.