Travis Perkins has approximately 1,650 drivers working across Greater London – an area densely populated with cyclists, pedestrians and heavy goods vehicles (HGV’s). With that in mind I travelled to Barking to participate in the safe urban driving course at the new Fleet Source building in Fresh Wharf Estate.
The safe urban driving course is accredited by both Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) and Transport for London (TfL) and has been heavily invested in by Travis Perkins – to date they have provided £750,000 pounds to run it.
I arrived in East London as both a charity partner and Brake representative, but also a participant, alongside a selection of Travis Perkins drivers throughout the day. I would be experiencing the same educational course that all Travis Perkins drivers have to go through and my mind was open to what I could take away from the event myself.
Both classroom and bicycle based, this course aims to give drivers a different perspective of the road, particularly focusing on vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. The aim of the course is very apparent; to create a safer generation of lorry drivers who are more conscious of the other, less visible road users, in cities where cycling is becoming the favoured method of transport and cyclists are ever increasing in numbers.
It was very educational to be able to sit in the lorry cab and have a driver talk me through all of the safety features that have been installed within the vehicle including extra blind spot mirrors, turning signals and larger windows covering the passenger door for increased visibility. Whilst on the bikes it was equally informative in terms of addressing situations of potential driver/cyclist conflict including junctions, traffic lights and advanced stop lines and also recognising best driving practice around cyclists.
The fundamental thing I took from this event was the importance of understanding both sides of the coin. On a personal note, I really never knew about the lack of visibility that lorry drivers had of vulnerable road users nor the safety features in place to protect vulnerable road users. As a cyclist it’s easy to think that a driver can see you all the time in their mirrors when in reality that’s not the case.
On the flip side, it is vitally important for lorry drivers to complete this course. By doing so they learn the perspective of a vulnerable road user and it helps them understand the situation of all people who use our roads.