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The news that yet another cyclist was seriously injured in an impact with an HGV (Dublin on 23 March 23) serves as a reminder that these impacts should not be happening as they are essentially avoidable.
The key safety issues are the huge mass of these rigs in relation to a 15kg bike and the fatal flaw in the design of the cab, such that the driver’s view is so restricted with its extensive blind ZONES (not ‘spots’ as apologists for these rigs keep uttering).
The European Cyclists’ Federation (of which Cyclist.ie — The Irish Cycling Advocacy Network — is the member for Ireland) tried to lobby with the EU Commission last autumn to have the manufacturers forced to redesign the rigs so as to markedly improve the view from the cab.
The manufacturers refused to do this. This is not good enough for road safety.
In the absence of cab redesign and for continuing close-quarters operation in congested urban areas the only safe solution is for road authorities to insist that: (1) an access control permit system be in place [why is Dublin City the only city to have a permit system?]; (2) the permit condition requires a co-driver in the cab; and, (3) no left turns permitted on the routing.
There is a huge number of 3-/4-/5-axle rigs running freely around our urban areas with the construction boom so it is time to impose stricter controls on their operation.
Many are travelling far too fast for road and traffic conditions with cyclists present.
The Health & Safety Authority (HSA) needs to look at its advice to operators of these rigs and require them to undertake fresh risk assessments for their use in urban areas.
These rigs are being used for work purposes and so the risk assessment needs to be undertaken in the light that the driver’s view from the cab is so restricted.
The risk control measure clearly has to be that a co-driver must be present to act as a second pair of eyes/ears for the driver.
Those unfortunate riders who have been killed or maimed by the owners of these rigs deserve this policy response from all road authorities and the Health & Safety Authority.
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