TfL has done well to minimise compliance costs under the Safer Lorry Scheme but ultimately the initative remains misguided, the FTA has said.

Responding after confirmation the Safer Lorry Scheme would go live from September  - effectively banning vehicles above 3.5 tonnes from operating within the London area without sideguards and improved mirrors fitted - the FTA suggested it remained not necessarily the best way to improve cycle safety - a point it made last year during the scheme's consultation.

Head of policy for London at the FTA, Natalie Chapman, said: “FTA is pleased to see that the necessary exemptions and concessions for the vehicles for which this equipment is either not possible or not legal have been included within the requirements of the London Safer Lorry Scheme.

"However, in principle we believe that this kind of blunt regulatory tool is not the best way to improve cyclist safety. We still think that the money and effort spent on this scheme would have been better spent on increased enforcement against the small proportion of lorries that don't comply with existing regulations."

The scheme

All roads in Greater London (except motorways) will be covered by the scheme, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. It will require vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes to be fitted with sideguards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels in the event of a collision, along with Class V and Class VI close-proximity mirrors giving the driver a better view of cyclists and pedestrians around their vehicle.

There are some exemptions, for example where mirrors can’t be fitted to a vehicle, typically certain vans, with at least two metres of clearance from the ground. TfL has previously estimated that vehicles can be retrofitted with sideguards for around £500, with extended view mirrors costing £300 each. However the RHA suggested a figure of £1,000 for most vehicles was likely closer to the mark.

This means it is broadly equivalent to the safety equipment standard required by bronze members of Fors, which was raised last autumn by TfL. Fors has recently been privatised and will go national this year.

The Safer Lorry Scheme will be enforced by the police, the DVSA and the joint TfL and DfT-funded Industrial HGV Taskforce. The maximum fine for each breach of the ban will be £1,000.

The operator will also be referred for consideration to the relevant traffic commissioner.

Vital role, vital initative

London’s transport commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy CBE, said: “The essential role that freight plays in any city is vast, and none more so than London. Equally vital is ensuring that we can all safely use our roads and this is why I am pleased to announce the launch of the country’s first Safer Lorry Scheme.

"London’s lead in improving the safety and efficiency of freight has once again been demonstrated. The Safer Lorry Scheme is a fantastic example of the benefits of partnership working. The rogue minority of HGVs that operate on our roads without effective basic safety equipment will be forced to improve or be banned. This will save lives and ensure a level playing field for operators.”

The scheme has been in development for some time and started life as the Safer Lorry Charge in 2013.