Cyclist anger over scrappage of safety scheme

TFL plans to cut back funding for safety campaign. Photo: London Cycling Campaign

TFL plans to cut back funding for safety campaign. Photo: London Cycling Campaign

Local cycling campaigners are dismayed by plans to withdraw funding from a cycle safety unit, which works to reduce the danger posed by heavy goods vehicles.

In Hackney there were five cyclist fatalities from 2005 to 2008, all of which involved heavy goods vehicles. Across London last year, there were 10 cyclist fatalities and 8 involved HGV’s.

Transport for London announced it will withdraw funding from the Commercial Vehicle Education Unit from March next year. The unit will be replaced by a voluntary scheme called the Freight Operators Recognition Scheme run by Transport for London.

London Cycling Campaigners question whether the TfL scheme will work as efficiently, because membership is not compulsory.

Trevor Parsons of LCC’s Hackney branch, said: “Only better firms who care about their public image will join up. Companies who don’t care won’t.”

CVEU also runs a session called “trading places” where a cyclist and a driver switch positions so they can view the road from each other’s perspective.

Trevor Parsons said: “We are still waiting for an explanation on how this type of work will continue under the new regime. Who will do the sessions? Will they continue?”

Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney North, has tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons urging Mayor Boris Johnson to reconsider the decision over funding. She is dubious about the proposed replacement.

“The CVEU were made up of dedicated and expert police officers, I don’t see how that can be replaced by a voluntary scheme within the industry” said Ms Abbot.

In a statement issued last week, the Mayor of London and TFL announced plans to encourage operators to take cycle safety seriously and will encourage 7000 freight companies to join FORS.

Ms Abbot’s motion has signatures from a range of political parties and continues to gather support. “[LCC] are the ones who know the dangers of cycling on London’s roads and they have the right to be heard.”

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