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New initiative sees bus drivers trained in cycle safety to cut road deaths

Bus drivers in South London are to be given special cycle awareness training as part of an innovative new scheme run by Lambeth Council to cut road deaths and injury involving cyclists.

The drivers will have classroom lessons and be given practical on and off-road cycle training to help them understand the dangers faced by cyclists, particularly how they can be caught in a bus’s blind spot.

The scheme – the first of its kind – will see Lambeth Council working with bus operators Abellio London and Go-Ahead, which operate routes across South London. Lambeth Council, working with its cycle training provider, Cycle Training (UK), has been leading the way in promoting cycling safety to drivers of HGVs, and was the first council in London to train all its refuse vehicle and school bus drivers in cycle awareness.

Cyclists are particularly in danger if they cycle on the left hand side of a bus or HGV because of the poor view of that side of the vehicle that drivers have from the cab.

The bus driver trainers will undertake an intensive cycle instructor training course, which will incorporate discussions on bus-cyclist awareness, as well as giving them the opportunity to get on bikes themselves to experience life from the cyclists’ perspective. At the end of the course, the participants will become fully qualified cycle trainers, who will then train up their colleagues as part of their statutory periodic training. (All professional bus, coach and lorry drivers are required to hold a certificate of professional competence and must complete 35 hours of training over a 5 year period in order to retain their certificate.)

Lambeth provides cycle training at a minimal cost to all adult cyclists living, working or studying in the borough as well as offering cycle training to Lambeth schools. The sessions comprise off-road and on-road training so that cyclists develop the skills and knowledge to cycle safely in London traffic.

Councillor Nigel Haselden, Lambeth Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Transport, said: “More and more people are taking up cycling and figures show that while twice as many people are cycling in Lambeth than 10 years ago, the number of those being injured in collisions has not risen.

“However, a disproportionate number of injuries and deaths involve large vehicles such as lorries and buses, often when cyclists are caught in those vehicles’ blind spots.

“London’s cycling revolution of the last decade is gathering more momentum. The first Cycle Superhighway pilot schemes opened this month, including CS7, running through Lambeth, and the Mayor’s Cycle Hire scheme is due to launch this week.

“That’s why this kind of training is so important – in Lambeth we believe that London’s limited road space can be shared more safely when road users are mutually aware of each other and I’m delighted that we are now working with our local bus companies, having previously trained all our refuse drivers in cycle safety.

Paul McGowan, Managing Director of Abellio London said: “This training programme is a first, and we’re looking forward to implementing it in partnership with Lambeth who must be congratulated for the scheme. Driver awareness and safety are always at the top of Abellio London’s agenda, and the unprecedented increase in cycling on London’s roads brings its own challenge. Bicycles and buses share very limited road space in many places, so it’s crucial that our drivers understand how vulnerable cyclists are and the way in which they occupy and use the road space. Innovative schemes such as this are part of the answer. By getting bus driver trainers to train as cycle instructors in order to deliver cycle awareness training to their fellow drivers we hope to roll out this important safety programme across the business quickly.”

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