Council's lorry drivers in the saddle for safer cycling lessons
A group of City of Edinburgh Council lorry drivers have taken to the saddle as part of a scheme to help make them more aware of the dangers facing cyclists on the roads.
In the first course of its kind in Scotland, employees swapped six wheels for two in an effort to understand the perceptions of cyclists using the city’s roads.
The pilot initiative consists of theory and practical sessions, created to encourage drivers to empathise with vulnerable road users and the safety issues they experience. The practical sessions have been developed with the support of Cycling Scotland, the country’s national organisation for the promotion of cycling.
Though the rate of casualties amongst those cycling to work has decreased over the last decade, figures show that a significant proportion of the incidents that do happen are associated with heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). It is hoped that, by placing drivers in the same position as cyclists, they will gain a better appreciation of the dangers they face on a day-to-day basis.
Participants returned to the classroom to learn about vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, motorcyclists and scooter riders as well as cyclists, and how best to share the space with them.
Drivers were also given tips on how to prepare for journeys and on the safety devices fitted to their vehicles.
A second practical element to the course, delivered by Cycling Scotland, gave class members the opportunity to develop their own cycling skills, and as a result formulate driving plans to ensure other road users’ safety, by putting themselves in their position.
Ian Aitken, chief executive of Cycling Scotland said: “Fostering mutual respect is paramount for the safety of all road users and the initial Driver Awareness training for HGVs is a great example of an initiative designed to do just that. By putting lorry drivers in the position of cyclists, both in theory and in practice, they will become much more aware of cyclists while out on the road.
“Cycling Scotland welcomes City of Edinburgh Council’s initiative, and is pleased to be delivering the practical element of this training. We hope that other local authorities and organisations responsible for the operation of large goods vehicles in Scotland will follow suit.’’
“While the majority of HGV drivers are good drivers, the number of incidents involving HGVs and cyclists continues to be very high. We’re pleased that the Council is taking this into account with the initiative, and look forward to seeing how the course progresses.”