After the driver of a waste disposal lorry working in central Glasgow became incapacitated and his vehicle ran out of control, killing six pedestrians, there was a realisation that, unlike for instance trains, there was no “deadman” feature, no vigilance device, nothing to stop the things in the event that the driver is taken ill. The lethal potential of heavy lorries running around our city centres was all too real.
Richard Wellings - opposing regulation
In London, those who cycle around the city are all too aware that, even when under the control of their drivers, lorries can inflict fatal injuries, and all too often they do just that. So no-one should have been surprised to see the Standard tell last Friday that “Large lorries travelling without safety equipment are set to be banned from London's roads as part of efforts to protect cyclists”. What will this entail?
“Vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes will be required to have side guards and extra mirrors from September 1 this year under new laws … Lorry drivers face fines of £1000 if they ignore the regulations, which apply to all roads in Greater London except motorways … Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the lives of cyclists and pedestrians would be ‘much safer’ under the new rules”.
While many will have been in agreement, though, over on the ideologically free market, and, it has to be said, mildly paranoid right, the IEA’s Richard Wellings, fresh from failing to persuade anyone who matters that making railways into busways was a credible idea, was deeply unhappy about the move. “Lorries without expensive safety equipment to be banned from London … another costly victory for cycling lobby” he whined.
Wellings’ cyclist paranoia is not a new thing: back in 2013 he penned “More regulation, more surveillance and more enforcement: the policies cycling groups plan to impose on other road users”. Note “cycling groups plan to impose on”, rather than accepting that large commercial vehicles have killed several of those cyclists, cycling is being encouraged as a sustainable form of transport, and therefore it needs to be made safer.
He seemingly takes exception to “European standards on vehicle design and fitting safety equipment, especially HGVs”, “All KSIs to be properly investigated and the police should adhere to the Road Death Investigation Manual”, “The courts should make greater use of driving bans in sentencing”, “Enforcement of 20mph limits by police”, and “All major new developments should include Crossrail-type clauses on HGV safety training”.
All of these presumably violate his free market vision in some way or other. That this vision causes more people to get killed does not seem to enter. One also has to ask how Wellings and the IEA will defend their stance to the family of four-year-old Mitzi Rosanna Steady, one of four killed by an out-of-control tipper truck in Bath on Monday. Will they accuse the little girl’s family of “planning to impose” greater road safety measures?
Being an ideological free marketeer means never having to plug in your conscience.
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