Yesterday I wrote a letter to Keltbray, the lorry company whose vehicle was involved in the collision with a cyclist on Borough High Street. (It was a Keltbray lorry that killed cyclist Haris Ahmed earlier in the year, on a backstreet just a few yards from where yesterday’s collision took place).
Dear Leigh Richards,
I present a radio programme about cycling in London. I have learned of two incidents today involving Keltbray lorries and cyclists on the streets of London. The first resulted in serious injuries, and could have been far worse. See the picture here:
There will clearly have to be a police investigation of this and I wouldn’t want to prejudge the outcome.
The second was a report by another woman cyclist of a Keltbray lorry passing too fast and too close during this morning’s daily commute. She informed me of the incident after hearing of the collision mentioned above.
I’d like to ask what action Keltbray is taking to avoid these kinds of incidents happening, whether it be driver training, installation of safety equipment or other measures. Can you confirm that Keltbray drivers are not remunerated on piece-rates, which can clearly generate incentives to drive too fast and cut corners (literally as well as metaphorically). Has Keltbray conducted any assessment of the number of collisions or other incidents involving cyclists in which its drivers have been involved?
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Here’s the reply I received today:
Dear Mr Thurston
Thank you for your e-mail of yesterdays date regarding collisions between haulage vehicles and cyclists and pedestrians and I hope my response below is helpful.
I trust you will appreciate that this matter has occupied both our Health and Safety Director and myself in terms of investigating yesterday’s accident involving one of our Lorries and a young woman and hence the delay in my response to you.
It is most important that we and all haulage fleet operators have due regard for all road users and most importantly pedestrians and cyclists and we here at Keltbray trust that we are working very hard to help raise awareness both with our own drivers and others regarding the risks involved in use of the public highways.
Our team here lead by our Haulage Fleet Director, Adrian Scott have expended considerable effort and have received recognition for the work that we are undertaking with the Metropolitan Police and others through our ‘Raising Awareness’ efforts both with the cycling community and with our drivers actively involved to achieve a better awareness of the risks that exist on the road.
Our vehicles are fitted with safety equipment that should draw the attention of both driver and any pedestrian and/or cyclist to the risk of a possible near side collision through audible and visual alerts. Additional mirrors are fitted to all our Haulage lorries to improve the visibility for the driver of the vehicle and our drivers all attend training courses to refresh and improve their understanding of risks.
All our drivers are drugs and alcohol tested to ensure that they meet mandatory regulated requirements.
Keltbray do not pay their drivers a piece rate for the very reason that it might incentivise bad driving practice.
Keltbray are proud of the fact that we have recently been recognised as achieving the Silver Standard Freight Operators Recognition Scheme.
Group Managing Director
The reply is good and from what I hear Keltbray are among the better haulage companies in terms of the work they’re doing around safety and cycling. They have supplied vehicles for the demonstration events where cyclists can sit in a lorry cab to see the ‘driver’s eye view’. The company even sponsored Peter Murray, director of the London Festival of Architecture, to go on a bicycle ride to Cannes. It’s good that Keltbray doesn’t pay drivers piece rates.
Even so, I wonder if the Keltbray tipper truck involved in yesterday’s collision was fitted with “safety equipment that should draw the attention of both driver and any pedestrian and/or cyclist to the risk of a possible near side collision through audible and visual alerts”. If so, why didn’t it work? Was the tipper truck fitted with the “additional mirrors” mentioned in the letter? What kind of additional training had the driver received? Has the driver been on a cycle training course to get a cyclists’ eye view of the road?
Talking directly with the companies who own the lorries that drive the streets of London should not be underestimated as a way of making cycling safer. Some companies really do care about safety and most companies care about their reputation. Cynthia Barlow’s daughter was killed while cycling by a lorry owned by London Concrete. After her death, Cynthia embarked on a one-woman-crusade to get London Concrete to improve its safety standards. She thinks her hard work paid off and that London Concrete has gone from being one of the least to one of the most safety-conscious haulage companies as a result (for more of Cynthia’s story, listen to this episode of The Bike Show or visit the RoadPeace website).