The government will not introduce “knee jerk” regulations requiring trucks to be fitted with additional cycle safety equipment such as detectors or cameras without scientific evidence that they are effective, roads and freight minister Robert Goodwill MP has pledged.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee enquiry into cycle safety, Goodwill said: “We need to think carefully before specifying movement detectors because we don't want a situation where drivers are being constantly distracted. Improvements need to be based on research so they are effective and practical and do not distract the driver.

“We don't want a knee jerk reaction of ‘let's fit detectors or cameras’ - it needs to be based on scientific evidence.”

He also warned that the UK could get into difficulties if it went beyond European Union rules on vehicle specifications.

“It is often difficult to go over and above the regulations,” Goodwill said. “Trucks coming in from continental Europe would not comply and that would put us in a difficult situation.”

But Goodwill backed large construction projects such as Crossrail, which have stipulated vehicles must be fitted with additional safety equipment before entering their sites – though he called for a common specification so operators knew exactly what was required.


Robert Goodwill MP, transport minister

“In London there is good scope for contractual and voluntary agreements as well as using the good offices of the Traffic Commissioners to spread good practice,” he said.

“Government contracts can stipulate higher levels of vehicle specification for trucks in an urban environment. But it would be useful to have an agreed specification rather than the current discrepancies between contracts.”

Excellent safety culture

Goodwill praised the “vast majority” of the transport industry for its excellent safety culture and said enforcement needed to be targeted on the non-compliant after a recent Vosa roadside inspection in London found many vehicle defects.

“It was disappointing to see so many faults and it seems many were construction vehicles,” he said. “The very worst were scaffolding trucks where loads were not secure and some operators in London need to up their act.

“But the vast majority of road haulage companies do have a very responsible attitude to safety. The problem is with some smaller operators who are not as aware of their responsibilities.”

The minister said he was aware that the Metropolitan Police had also been stepping up their presence at several key junctions to “advise” cyclists to obey the traffic regulations.

He backed more widespread use of advanced safety zones and traffic lights that allowed cyclists to get away ahead of other traffic.

“Bad cyclist behaviour is a London issue and in London there is a culture of going before green to get out of the way,” Goodwill said. “We can't condone that but we should look at early start green bicycle signals to allow cyclists to get away legally.”

Goodwill's comments come after an evidence session on Monday (2 December).