Flashback Friday: Trucks and Bikes – Learning how to Share

Last Tuesday, the final Biketober Tuesday seminar saw a panel discussion about safety issues between bikes and trucks. It was a very useful conversation about the progress that has been made (or not) in this area, and it highlighted how this is not a new concern. Indeed, going back to Oct 2014, a blogpost highlighted the efforts being made back then to get all parties to understand the view from the other side, and these efforts even attracted national media attention…

Earlier in the week, we talked about the current angst over cycle safety in the presence of trucks, especially following last week’s tragic incident. A lot of vitriol has been flung back and forth accusing both truck drivers and cyclists for not taking sufficient steps to prevent such tragedies. Meanwhile, however, a group of safety-minded people have been working away at trying to improve understanding on both sides, and you get the chance to see the results of their work this week.

This rider can’t be seen by the truck driver (c/ Richard Barter)

As mentioned previously, the Cycling Advocates Network (CAN) have been working with the trucking industry to develop and promote “road user workshops” where truckies and riders can get together to share their experiences and learn from each other. A key part of this is getting to “sit in each other seats”, to be able to empathise with and appreciate the view and challenges from that perspective. It’s hard though to get that message out to many people at a time when a workshop might only have 10-20 participants. So a few more initiatives are being worked on.

This weekend (Sat 11th Oct, 10am-5pm), the Road Transport Forum will be holding their annual Trucking Show at Wigram Airforce Museum. Entry is by gold coin donation. As well as a chance for people to see the various big rigs that are out on our roads (the kids will probably love being able to climb into them!), a key focus of the event this year is cycle safety. To that end, CAN will be there with trucking association reps to help demonstrate to people how bikes and trucks interact on our roads.

Marking out the blindspot areas around a truck

Come along and you can have the chance to sit in the cab of a truck and see exactly where the blindspots are on many trucks – the results may surprise you! All those who come along and take part in the cycle skills activity can also go in the draw to win a Giant bicycle of their choice, thanks to CAN and the good folk at Cycle Traders. We’re looking for good numbers of people who ride to come along and share their experiences with truckies (you don’t have to bring your bike; there’ll be some there to illustrate positioning around trucks). So if you’ve never had the chance to see a truck from the driver’s perspective (or to chat to a truck driver…) come along and take up this valuable opportunity.

These guys can’t be seen by the driver using ordinary mirrors

If you can’t manage to get along this weekend, TV3’s Campbell Live programme filmed a few of us on Monday to explain what this is all about and to demonstrate just how hard it is to see a bike from a truck. Certainly it was interesting for me to sit in the cab and see what was visible (or not)! Hopefully that should be screening in the next day or so.

Campbell Live’s John Sellwood directs proceedings for the truck safety filming
CAN Truck/Bike Safety Poster

CAN has also been working on other broad-based public information under the “Getting Home Safely” theme, including posters with key safety messages (see right) and a video illustrating these points visually. The video’s not quite ready for final publication; we’ll let you know when there is a weblink for viewing (I think you’ll be able to get a preview of it at the Trucking Show).

As we mentioned previously, there is no silver bullet to these problems, and other initiatives like infrastructure and vehicle designs may make a big difference in the long run. But for now, it is hoped these efforts will help make all road users aware of ways to keep everyone safer on the roads. And it’s been great to have these very productive conversations with people from the other side of the coin, like David Boyce from the NZ Trucking Assn. So come along on Saturday and join the conversation!

What do you think of these truck/cycle safety initiatives?

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