All posts by Kate Cairns

18 Mar

First signs of success!!

The EU have voted today – and we’re finally making some headway. The transport committee were voting on two important points:

  1. Whether to allow megatrucks to cross EU borders. This proposal was rejected, which is excellent news for all road users.
  2. To change the design of lorry cabs, giving more space at the front of the lorry.  Current regulations mean manufacturers create a brick-shaped lorry in order to maximise the legal load. The new design allows for much better visibility of the road, and vulnerable road-users.

The committee’s amendments to the directive have included our demands that changes to the cab include mandatory improvement of direct vision, which will reduce blind areas, and the addition of a crumple zone, and better deflection bumpers, so that if cyclists or pedestrians are hit they are less likely to be pulled under the wheels.

These proposals do need two more sets of approval; a plenary session in April 2014, and then approval by each EU country. They will then be phased in, due to become mandatory throughout the EU by 2022.

Finally, it seems, some progress at the highest level!

These articles give more info on the vote:

European Cyclists Federation: First Steps to safer HGV / lorry safety taken today

Transport & Environment: EU Parliament vote marks end of the brick-shaped lorry


13 Feb

EU vote delays….

The EU was to vote today on amending a directive to lorry design. This would allow lorries to be longer; more curved and aerodynamic – less like a brick, which makes the lorry more fuel efficient.

We have grabbed this rare opportunity, when the EU is talking about lorry design, to campaign for improved direct vision (to remove the notorious blind spot), to be a mandatory part of the design, rather than just a happy coincidence.

The problem is that the amendment to allow longer lorries will allow ‘megalorries’ – much heavier and longer than current laws allow. They can be as long as a medium-sized airplane.

So… all these issues mean that the issue is far from clear cut. MEPs have reservations on this, which has delayed the vote of the Transport Committee until 18th March. However, after the Transport Committee have voted, that vote has to be put to the European Parliament during their plenary session on 14th April. This now means there is very little time for the process to be completed.

This is a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to make a real, life-saving change, and it is really frustrating that this chance may well be lost – meaning years of further delay – before the possibility of improved direct vision cabs become a legal requirement.

30 Jan

Taking it to Europe

I was invited by TfL along with Cynthia Barlow of RoadPeace to join a delegation to Brussels consisting of London’s Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan and Olympic cyclist and representative of British Cycling, Chris Boardman.

We presented a declaration, supported by 130 European countries and mayors of 4 European cities, calling for amendments to the weights and dimensions directive to include the mandatory requirement of improved direct vision.

As awareness of the blind areas around HGVs has increased, this problem has traditionally been addressed by requiring fitting of extra mirrors. Drivers are now in sensory overload, where it takes up to 6 seconds to scan every mirror and the road ahead. Complete redesign of the cab to give drivers a much better line of sight and visibility around the cab will make life easier for drivers, and reduce the risk posed to vulnerable road users.

The UK government is not supportive of the proposal, but we will continue to challenge. This is a once in a decade opportunity to influence cab design, and we may not have the chance for another decade.


24 Jan

Ride for Eilidh

It will be five years on February 5th since Eilidh died. She was 30 when she was run over from behind and crushed by a tipper lorry at Notting Hill Gate as she cycled to work on her beloved fixie.

On Wednesday 5th Feb, friends and family will retrace Eilidh’s final route, evoking her spirit through a flow of light, and remembering a beautiful, strong, gentle, witty woman, so loved by so many.

Date: Wednesday 5th February 2014
Time: 19:00pm
Meet: Bandstand, Parliament Hill
Finish: Ghost Bike, Notting Hill Gate
Drink: Bar 123, Notting Hill Gate (~ 20:00h)
Bring: Candles in a jar
Wear: Glow sticks

Please come and ride with us.

The video below is from the memorial ride done directly after Eilidh’s death. It would be wonderful to be able to celebrate her, 5 years on.