And the Impact on the logistics industry
Written by Diamond Logistics Founder & CEO Kate Lester
Today the new changes of the Highway Code come into force which establish a hierarchy putting cyclists as the 2 most vulnerable users at the top of the road users hierarchy and HGV’s at the bottom in 8th place.
Whilst I hope it’s entirely appropriate for us to finally establish in law the respect that vulnerable users of the road need (i.e. cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders) the reality is that a hierarchy of road users establishes a preference for a mode of transport. And I think it’s about time that HGV drivers and van drivers are not polarised from road users simply by the size and relative safety of their vehicles.
I entirely acknowledge that vulnerable users need to be safeguarded but ultimately speaking the best thing we can do is actually have all road users appreciate the different challenges that ALL road users have. For example has anyone really taken into consideration how difficult it is to be an HGV driver? The skill required to drive this huge vehicle. The challenges you’ve got as a driver in terms of your blind spot? And trying to see these road users and how challenging it can be when, for example, a cyclists can be trying to come on the inside of an HGV vehicle turning left, which as we know is actually extraordinarily dangerous, leading to injury and sometimes even death. A horrific experience for all involved.
I don’t want to mention the amount of times I’ve nearly been hit by cyclists going the wrong way down a one way street. Or how pavements for pedestrians are becoming increasing dangerous because of cyclist and scooters using them, when they shouldn’t. There is not a solitary road using group in the UK that does not have a rogue element that makes life very difficult for their fellow road and pavement user.
But a hierarchy is a very dangerous thing to do. I believe the best way for us to move forward is with real understanding of everybody’s challenges. That there should be an element of driver training giving you a “day in the life of”. So you can be a cyclist whilst an HGV passes you, you have to be an HGV driver trying to make delivery or reversing in a tight spot, be a van driver trying to make 100 multiple deliveries in a day, a horse rider understanding what it’s like when an Audi TT goes right up your horses backside on a country lane. It is only with really understanding of all the challenges can we truly develop a Highway Code that supports all road users, and is fair and reasonable.
This all being said it is entirely appropriate that we leave space for cyclists and the road positioning clarification is essential. I know as a motorcyclist one of the first things we were taught was to drive very defensively and that was to be seen by sitting 2/3 away from the curb. Obviously lights and visibility are incredibly important. But now they’ve also put into law that riders can cycle two abreast. And I think that being defined as being right and proper will stop quite a lot of road rage towards groups of cyclists.
Ultimately speaking the road is there for all users. I know as an occasional runner I feel incredibly vulnerable on the roads and pavements when – but it can equally be a cyclist that nearly decapitates me on a pavement as well as an HGV on a country lane. But user hierarchy? It smacks of an entirely British system which ultimately speaking ostracises HGV drivers once again. And isn’t it incredible that in the last two years HGV drivers have gone from being the bane of peoples lives theoretically, to the saviours of our supply chain, and now to be lost in the hierarchy of road users, bottom of the pile once again. That doesn’t sit well with me at all