CITY council lorry drivers are to take to the saddle as part of a scheme to help make them more aware of the dangers facing cyclists.
In the first course of its kind in Scotland, drivers in the council’s roads and environment teams will swap six wheels for two in an effort to understand the day-to-day dangers faced by bike riders on the Capital’s roads.
The pilot initiative consists of theory and practical sessions, developed with the support of Cycling Scotland, created to help bin and recycling lorry drivers empathise with those on two wheels.
It is hoped that, by placing drivers in the same position as cyclists, they will gain a better appreciation of the dangers cycling on the roads can hold.
Initial Driver Awareness training targets van and lorry drivers within the council’s transport department performing tasks such as roads maintenance and repairs.
Participants will return to the classroom to learn about vulnerable road users, who include pedestrians, motorcyclists and scooter riders as well as cyclists, and how best to share the space with them.
A second practical on-the-road element, delivered by Cycling Scotland, is designed to put class members in other road users’ position, learning basic bike skills, negotiating road junctions and traffic.
Cycle safety campaigners Lynne and Ian McNicoll, who lost their son, Andrew, 43, in a cycling incident with an HGV on Lanark Road in January 2012, welcomed the introduction of the new pilot.
In the wake of the tragedy the McNicolls set up their charity, the Andrew Cyclist Charitable Trust, to raise awareness of the vulnerability of cyclists on city roads. Mr McNicoll welcomed the pilot and said: “It’s essential that HGV drivers are given appropriate training and know the risks that cyclists take.
“While the majority of HGV drivers are good drivers, the number of incidents involving HGVs and cyclists continues to be very high.”
Twelve cyclists were killed on Scotland’s roads last year – the highest number since 2005 – with four deaths already this year. More than 4000 people took part in this year’s Pedal on Parliament event calling for increased cycle safety.
City council transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “If we are to encourage cycling amongst our citizens we must ensure they are given a safe and accessible environment in which to do it.”
Ian Aitken, chief executive of Cycling Scotland, said: “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.”
It comes after Edinburgh-born Sir Chris Hoy joined 13 other Olympic champion cyclists who wrote to their councils calling for safer roads.
Dos and Don’ts
• DO: indicate early, check mirrors and lean over the dashboard to look out of the window before moving off; remain alert whilst waiting at junctions; give cyclists plenty room.
• DON’T: overtake too closely – the draught from the vehicle can cause cyclists to lose balance; stop at a junction on top of an Advanced Stop Line box.
• DO: take up a visible position at lights – three metres in front and not by the left kerb or very close to the lorry. If the cyclist can’t see the driver, the driver can’t see them; signal clearly.
• DON’T: cycle up the left side of a lorry stopped at a junction as the driver might turn left, unaware that a cyclist is on their nearside.