Cycling groups should stop moaning and start educating their members, rather than criticising the latest Government road safety campaign.
That’s according to Jacqueline O’Donovan, MD of O’Donovan Waste Disposal, one of London’s leading independent waste management companies.
The warning comes in the wake of a Think! campaign urging cyclists in London and Manchester to ‘hang back’ from lorries. The road safety campaign has been developed after statistics showed last year a fifth of crashes where cyclists were killed involved HGVs.
A large proportion of deaths happen when a cyclist is at the front left of the truck, and almost a third of all crashes between cyclists and HGVs happen when the lorry is turning left. However, Cycling UK has criticised the campaign saying that the Department for Transport (DfT) should ‘think before blaming the victim’.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s senior road safety and legal campaigns officer, said: “Regrettably the campaign focuses purely on what cyclists should do to avoid being killed, rather than looking at the root cause of the problem and the measures that should be taken to solve it.”
The strap line for the DfT's campaign is 'Don't get caught between', with a film and posters depicting examples of things to avoid being trapped between, including two boxers in a ring, two head-butting rams, and for cyclists, a left turning lorry and the pavement.
Dollimore continued: “The message appears to be that you wouldn't intentionally put yourself in the middle of two colliding objects, so why would you put yourself on a bicycle between a turning lorry and a kerb.”
He says there are a number of problems with that message. “You might not have chosen to put yourself in that position; the lorry might have overtaken you,” explains Dollimore. “The DfT message at least implies that if you do, then it is your fault if something awful happens.”
Cycling UK is calling on the DfT to pull the campaign and start again. However, O’Donovan told Commercial Fleet that cycling groups are “spending too much time pointing the finger and not enough time on the issues that really matter when it comes to road safety”.
She continued: “Instead of playing the victim and moaning about the 'Hang Back' stickers on the back of lorries, cycling groups should be educating their members.
“Firstly, they should advise cyclists and other vulnerable road users to limit headphones to one ear, so they can hear the audible warnings when a lorry is turning. They should also enrol cyclists in industry schemes such as Exchanging Places, which provide hands-on sessions covering how to share the road with HGVs and the work being done by HGV operators to keep them safe.”
She concluded: “Road safety is a two-way street; we need collaboration, mutual learning and understanding. So rather than playing the blame game, both parties need to focus their efforts on real education.
“As HGV operators we are going to great lengths to educate our drivers; it’s vital that cyclist groups do the same – and sooner rather than later.”