Lorry drivers in Hackney are being offered free training to help reduce accidents involving cyclists.
Hackney is the first local authority to provide the accredited and free “Safe Urban Driving Course” for all HGV drivers employed by the council. The course includes a practical module in which drivers are invited to ride bicycles.
Since the course was launched in October, around 80 of Hackney Council’s drivers have completed the course.
Norman Harding, a manager of the council’s fleet who has taken part in the training himself, said: “When we first rose the subject there was a lot of negativity from our drivers.”
However, after taking part, all drivers agreed it was a ‘’real eye-opener ‘’ and had enjoyed it.
Now the course is accredited it can count towards compulsory periodic training required by HGV drivers. Trevor Parsons, Hackney Co-ordinator for the London Cycling Campaign said that accreditation was a “big achievement”.
“It’s a small but important first step – I’m sure we’ll be able to notice an improvement immediately from the Council’s drivers.”
Lucy Nandris, Hackney Council’s Cycle Training Manager said: “Training drivers on bicycles gives them a unique insight into cycling in the borough. This shared experience allows the drivers to begin to empathise with cyclists and, critically, provides practical ways in which they can share the road safely with their fellow traffic users”
The provision of courses such as this have been a “major part” of the London Cycling Campaign’s “No More Lethal Lorries” campaign, which has lobbied since 2010 for all lorry drivers to have cycle-awareness training. If the Hackney course is successful, the scheme could be expanded to include HGV and freight drivers across the UK.
The “Safe Urban Driving Course” also includes a theory module, which highlights the vulnerability of other road users. This session encourages drivers to talk about their attitude towards cyclists. Nandris said the training produced a “transformation”.
The course is similar to the “Exchanging Places” events, organized by Hackney’s Safer Transport Team, in which cyclists get in the cab of an HGV to help them understand how limited the drivers view is.
“This is a London-wide problem,” Parsons told EastLondonLines, “We’re very keen this gets taken up more widely, especially in the construction, which has been firmly identified as the sector responsible for most of the accidents where a cyclist has been killed or seriously injured.”
There have been several fatal accidents involving cyclists and trucks in east London this year. Two weeks ago a 34- year-old woman was killed at Bow Roundabout after a collision with a lorry. Only a month earlier a man, 58, was killed after a collision with a tipper truck. Earlier this year Daniel Cox, 28, was killed at Dalston Junction, in an accident also involving a lorry.
The seven hour course is open to any driver who operate within the borough boundaries and will be taking place in Hackney, as well as Bermondsey and Mill Hill during December and January.