Friday, January 09 2009 @ 06:21 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
But there’s another way of looking at some of these responses. The London Bicycle Activist reports that Truck and bus drivers working for the London Borough of Lambeth “are receiving training sessions in cycling road safety in a bid to prevent collisions involving cyclists and HGVs [Heavy Goods Vehicle].” The program involves classroom training and signs in trucks and buses warning drivers about the danger their vehicles pose to cyclists. The training program doesn’t stop there — with the assistance of Cycle Training UK, drivers are also receiving on-road training on bicycles “to give them greater understanding about cycling.”
While the training program for Lambeth truck and bus drivers is mandatory, training is not required for Lambeth cyclists. Nevertheless, Cycle training is also available to any resident of Lambeth who wants it, again in partnership between the Borough and Cycle Training UK.
The contrasts between European and American approaches to cycling safety are interesting:
• In Portland, bike boxes—an idea borrowed from European cities—were installed at problem intersections following the deaths of two Portland cyclists.
• In Portland, city trucks were fitted with safety guards. In contrast, in Europe, all trucks, whether public or private, have been required to be fitted with safety guards since 1989.
• In Portland, cyclists were invited into truck cabs to see how hard it is for drivers to see cyclists. In London, drivers were required to take on-road cycle training to see what it’s like to ride a bike. While it certainly can’t hurt for cyclists to gain perspective on what it’s like to drive a truck, the Portland approach implies that the truck drivers involved in the fatal accidents were not at fault, while the London approach implies that truck drivers have a duty of care to avoid hitting cyclists.
• In Portland, cyclists are told not to ride in the blind spot of trucks — and in fact, in Brett Jarolimek’s crash, a massive blind spot created by the damaged side mirror on the truck was a major factor in the collision. In Europe, all heavy trucks are required, as of March 31 of this year, to be fitted with equipment that eliminates blind spots.
• In Portland, neither driver faced criminal charges, and only one of the drivers received a traffic citation for violating the cyclist’s right of way. The driver who turned into Brett Jarolimek’s path was not cited, because the Portland Police invented a non-existent requirement that the driver had to be aware of the cyclist in order to violate his right of way — an interesting decision on the part of the Portland Police, given that the driver’s mirror was non-functional, in violation of the law. Whether either driver will be found negligent would be a matter for a jury to decide. In contrast, in the Netherlands, a driver is presumed to be negligent in any collision involving a cyclist, unless the driver can introduce evidence rebutting that presumption.
While it’s been heartening to see some of the positive changes that have taken place in Portland as a result of the tragic and needless deaths of two Portland cyclists, it’s also obvious, when compared to what our counterparts in the UK and Europe are doing, that there’s so much more we could be doing to protect cyclists in this country. The Borough of Lambeth provides one innovative example — when drivers know what the road is like from our perspective, they’re likely to be more careful with our lives.