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ALMOST HALF OF ROAD USERS SUPPORT CITY CENTRE HGV BAN TO IMPROVE SAFETY
Almost half of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are in favour of banning lorries from city centres in an effort to combat the rising toll of dead and injured on the country's roads.
A survey by a leading law firm has concluded that 44 per cent of people would support a move to prohibit HGVs operating in built-up areas either during rush hour or the entire day.
Thirteen hundred people took part in the research conducted by JMW Solicitors. The firm launched a specialist division of its Personal Injury department last year, ‘Twisted Spokes’, to represent cyclists who are involved in collisions seek compensation against those at fault.
Senior associate and head of the team, Jane Bedford McLaren, said she has been surprised by the results although argued that they underline a growing sensitivity to the well-being of vulnerable road users.
"This survey sought the opinions of all road users - not just cyclists - of all ages and from right across the country, so I believe that it provides quality insight into what people consider to be the problems with the roads and what could be changed for the better.
“Of course, any initiative to control or restrict HGVs is bound to be controversial because of the possible impact on businesses and the broader economy.
"Any death on the roads should be considered unacceptable and given the number of people who have died whilst riding their bikes already in 2015 I believe there is a growing awareness of the need for change. This could explain why so many respondents to our survey believe there should be this sort of ban on HGVs.
"With a General Election only a few weeks away, it will be interesting to see whether Britain's politicians listen to the growing level of public demand behind investing more time and more effort in developing a safer infrastructure – one that protects cyclists, and encourages others to start riding bikes.”
Ms Bedford McLaren’s comments follow the news that 26 people are reported to have been killed on Britain’s roads to date in 2015.
80 per cent of those who participated in the JMW survey felt that the country's cycling infrastructure was not up to scratch.
Although London was voted the best of all British locations for cyclists, 32 per cent of respondents felt that no domestic town or city had the kind of facilities to make cycling truly safe.
In February, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced the introduction of a Safer Lorry Scheme, requiring operators of HGVs larger than 3.5 tonnes to fit side guards to their vehicles along with mirrors to reduce the risk of cyclists being dragged under the wheels of those vehicles and to give drivers the best possible view of cyclists travelling nearclose to them.
The Scheme is due to come into effect in September. Companies flouting the new rules could face fines of up to £3,000 per lorry and being reported to the Traffic Commissioner who is responsible for the licensing and regulation of HGV operators.
JMW’s research also found that 81 per cent of respondents felt that it wasn't acceptable for cyclists to jump red lights.
Proposals to adopt similar regulations to those in some US states - enabling cyclists to turn left at red lights when safe to do so - were also given a measured welcome, backed by 47 per cent of respondents.
Jane continued: "Our survey has been really useful in exploring the views of all road users and we believe the outcome is extremely valuable in gaining a better understanding of how all road users view the needs of cyclists on our roads. By way of an example, our survey showed that 81 per cent of respondents agree that more people would feel encouraged to cycle with segregated cycle routes.
"Although the need to develop the UK’s cycling infrastructure has been recognised in the past, and London and some other cities have attempted to do that; what we have at the moment just isn’t good enough.
“Our survey highlights that, across the board, much more should be done to make our roads safe for cycling and ensure that there is parity amongst road users."
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