benefit-sanct2ionsI have been reading other blogs more than writing lately. I also sign petitions that I feel are worthwile.

One of the blogs I use for ‘keeping up to date with the world’ is Jonny Void‘s.

So yesterday I read the latest from Jonny Void and it struck a chord; he explains how, under the definitions used in that piece of UK legislation called the “Anti-Terrorism Act”, the benefit sanctions imposed by the Department of Work and Pensions on people on receipt of benefits do indeed constitute acts of terrorism against part of the British population.
Continue reading “Petition”

women killed by lorries, roadpeace

From a friend who lost a dear one on the road.

[link to Road Peace]

We continue to find Roadpeace, in Brixton, to be very useful and supportive since the collision of 2 cars with Marie-Pierre Vesco, on the 4th June ’08, Hickstead Junction.

I strongly recommend that, as soon as ready, family and/ or friends of people killed on British roads contact them.

I want to post about my friend, tragically killed under the wheels of a lorry yesterday on London’s streets.

Two years ago I left London for the calmer streets of Stockholm. Back then I would see several posts a year mentioning cyclists killed or badly injured by HGVs. I am assuming this trend has not let up.

It has been pointed out to me that a disproportionate number of cyclists are injured/killed by HGVs as opposed to the similarly large buses in London.

Is it visibility, training, awareness, what?

I do not know the exact circumstances yet of my friend’s accident. Though, I look back on the number of times a lorry has come thundering past me dangerously close and wonder that there are not more accidents.

The answer:

A little bit of everything. The bus industry is, while privatised, state-led, since it’s TfL that puts out the contracts; it’s also highly regulated by the safety authorities. As a result, there are strict rules about the construction of buses, training of drivers, hours that drivers can work, etc, and these are all fairly strictly enforced. Many of us will have had interactions with buses where we came off with a different opinion, but the fact is that despite driving god knows how many million miles a day, buses aren’t killing cyclists. Lorries, on the other hand,
are privately hired and privately run, and subject to fierce cost-cutting competition, more lightly regulated, and the regulations are very badly enforced. Drivers aren’t trained properly, they work too many hours and lose their concentration, their vehicles aren’t maintained properly, etc.

The City police did a project a while ago where they stopped every lorry passing through some point over the course of a day and inspected it, checking the mechanical condition of the lorry, the way the load was
secured, and the driver’s paperwork. I think they stopped about twenty.

*Every* *single* *one* was found to be illegal in some way – and all of those ways are things which put other road users at risk.

Many HGVs don’t even have to be built safely in the first place. The construction and use regulations specify that road vehicles have to be built with bodywork that comes right down to road level, so that if they sideswipe a cyclist or pedestrian, they’ll be pushed aside rather than dragged under the wheels (still not exactly safe, but safer, at least).

But many HGVs – anything involved in construction, like cement mixers,
flatbed trucks, etc – are exempt from this, on the grounds that it reduces their ground clearance, which they need to drive onto building sites.

Except that this is rubbish, because there’s another set of health and safety rules that say that driveways on building sites have to be made nice and flat!

In short, the problem is a combination of inadequate regulations about the construction of some HGVs, and criminally (literally) poor compliance with the safety regulations that do exist. The police have to start enforcing
the rules properly. Also, we might need changes in the law so that some of the responsibility for dangerous HGVs falls on the directories of the companies which operate or contract them: at the moment, they just hire the cheapest, with no regard to whether they’re legal or not.

And then there’s a whole other question of why it is that women seem to be particularly vulnerable to HGVs. It’s been shown that they are, but nobody seems to know why, or what we can do about it.

Which I thought it would be a loss to let it stay in the depths of some forum.