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Cycle-aware course for HGV drivers set up by Tower Hamlets Council after A11 road deaths

PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 September 2019

HGV drivers now get clearer picture of cyclists coming up on the kerb side. Picture: Kois Miah

HGV drivers now get clearer picture of cyclists coming up on the kerb side. Picture: Kois Miah

Kois Miah

A training course putting lorry drivers firmly in the cyclist saddle to see what the dangers are is being set up by Tower Hamlets Council in the wake of deaths on busy traffic roads.

Warning light to cyclists not to get too close or come up in the inside. Picture: Kois MiahWarning light to cyclists not to get too close or come up in the inside. Picture: Kois Miah

The seven-hour course includes a spell on two wheels so that HGV drivers see the road from a cyclist's perspective and understand the hazards they face.

"It can be daunting riding behind a lorry," Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said. "We want to make sure drivers are aware of the risks.

"This training is aimed at preventing another person dying or suffering a life-changing injury."

The council is working with companies and haulage firms like JB Riney highways contractors, with its main depot on the A12 near the Bow Roundabout, which has switched to a new fleet of high-visibility lorries.

Tower Hamlets travel officer Rob Morton with JB Riney driver Lee Hyland at Victoria Park testing new high visibility vehicle. Picture: Kois MiahTower Hamlets travel officer Rob Morton with JB Riney driver Lee Hyland at Victoria Park testing new high visibility vehicle. Picture: Kois Miah

The new vehicles have 360-degree cameras, cycle warning lights and audible turning alarms to prevent road accidents.

Its transport manager Steve King said: "We are acutely aware of the impact of our fleet on other road users, particularly vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians."

The company also backs the Met Police "exchanging places" programme letting cyclists climb into HGV cabs to see the road from the lorry driver's view.

Among the deadliest main roads for cyclists are the A11 from Whitechapel to Bow and the A13 Commercial Road to Limehouse.

Two people died within minutes in separate accidents in February 2017. A 32-year-old woman was crushed under the wheels of a coach in Whitechapel Road, then minutes later an 80-year-old pensioner was killed outside the Troxy theatre in Commercial Road.

But the worst year for cycle deaths was 2013.

A 24-year-old high-tech entrepreneur from Bethnal Green who created a networking app for digital start-up companies died at the Bow Roundabout colliding with a double-decker bus, one of five cyclists killed in London in just nine days, three of them along the A11.

It led to 1,000 people taking part in a protest vigil bringing rush-hour traffic to a stop. But more fatal accidents followed on the A11.

A 20-year-old cyclist died under the wheels of a bus at the Gardner's Corner junction of Whitechapel High Street and Commercial Road.

A 19-year-old French student living in Bromley-by-Bow was killed at the same junction by a trailer lorry. She was too low for the driver to see her, the inquest ruled.

A 62-year-old hospital porter was killed on his bike involving a tipper lorry just 100 yards from the Mile End Hospital where he had worked for 40 years.

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