In recent years I’ve been concerned at the number of goods vehicles that flagrantly break ‘loading and unloading’ restrictions (normally only peak hours) as well as those regarding mandatory cycle lanes (MCLs). Obstructions, so caused, are a common topic on the Campaign’s e-mail discussion list. Cyclists will be at increased risk when attempting to pass such illegally stopped vehicles, especially when they are forced to leave the partially protected environment of a bus or cycle lane. When approached most of these drivers simply (or not so simply) say ‘I’ve a job to do’.
I had hoped that some action might have occurred under Work related road safety, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) programme. This programme resulted from the realisation that about half of all road crashes involve someone who is ‘at work’. An expansion of this initiative could have resulted in investigation of some incidents by the HSE, just as if the incident had occurred within a workplace. This initiative has not quite stalled (see www.hse.gov.uk/roadsafety/).
I then hoped that the introduction of Local Authority Parking Enforcement (LAPE) might mean a step change in the amount of enforcement, and that ‘compliance’ with the law would rise.
Unfortunately there is not an infinite number of attendants, and compliance levels are still low. As regular readers will know, there is also the added complexity that Parking Attendants currently have no power to issue tickets for contravention of regulations regarding MCLs.
I’d expected that ‘white van man’ would disregard loading restrictions, but it is clear that many large national concerns, including distribution companies, shop chains, and parcel delivery organisations, have no effective system to regulate deliveries such as to keep within the law. As long as supposedly reputable companies are seen to disregard the law, it will be regarded as ‘an acceptable risk’ by other sections of the road transport industry.
Last year, over a short period, I noted contraventions and details of vehicles on trips up and down Hills Road to and from work. For a number of large national concerns I rang, asked to speak to the transport manager concerned, and complained. Some said they would speak to the driver, some were unavailable, and a few were downright rude. None acknowledged the need to have a system in place to control such incidents.
Although not scientific, I noticed no reduction in incidents by such firms.
Why bring this up now? Two instances of illegal action, and two almost opposite outcomes.
Early in October, one lunchtime I saw an HGV trailer (20+feet, 16 tons GVW) left unattended in the contraflow cycle lane in Downing Street, I returned with a camera to find the lorry being re-attached. The driver said he had been delivering in Lion Yard and there was no room for the trailer. There were no obvious markings or telephone numbers on the combination. He left being uncooperative.
Loading and Unloading: an FTA compliance guide
Following more complaints from members, I took another look at Hills Road, saw more national names illegally unloading, and had more unhelpful phone replies. I then phoned the Freight Transport Association (FTA). They have recently produced a ‘London Delivery Pack’ including Penalty Charge Notices for Loading and Unloading: an FTA compliance guide.
We’ve been sent a pack, and one for more general use within the UK is in draft. I was a little disappointed to see little mention of the safety implications of illegal unloading. But on the A6 folded card for issue to drivers it does specifically list MCLs as locations where you must not stop to load or unload. The Campaign will write to the FTA welcoming the initiative, and make some comments about the draft for UK use.
So what about that big trailer? Well it was there again one day in the first week of November. In the contraflow cycle lane in the busiest part of the day (9 am) with cyclists rushing to lectures using the pavement and squeezing through on the ‘wrong’ side of the road against oncoming lorries!
I rang the police, and took the names of several people, including a councillor as possible witnesses. I then discovered that the lorry had again left its trailer but had subsequently broken down. With the help of Lion Yard management staff I discovered that this vehicle often delivers, but usually at night, and always leaves the trailer in the cycle lane!
I’ve followed this up with the police and am horrified that they don’t propose to take action ‘as the vehicle had broken down’, despite the fact that the trailer must have been left illegally (and without lights) BEFORE the lorry broke down, and that apparently the driver has admitted that this is his normal practice.