Hackney leads the way with cycle awareness training for HGV drivers

Cycling is an increasingly popular method of transport in Hackney. To increase the safety of cyclists on Hackney s roads, the Council’s Road Safety Team is running accredited cycle awareness training courses for its fleet of truck and bus drivers - the first local authority in the country to do so. They are also the only council offering the course free to any freight operator or HGV driver who drives through the borough.

The Safe Urban Driving course, which has both theory and practical cycling elements, is accredited as a Certificate of Professional Competence unit which drivers are required to undergo every year in order to retain their license.

Similar to the Council s Exchanging Places events, where cyclists get into the cab of an HGV to see the world from the driver s perspective, this is an innovative course that gets drivers out of their cabs and into the saddle so they can gain a better understanding of what it s like to ride a bike on Hackney s busy roads.

The Council’s Road Safety Team has taken their cycle safety work to a new level by pioneering this hands-on cycle awareness training module. The course not only helps the Council fulfil its obligation to ensure all truck and bus drivers receive seven hours of approved Driver CPC training each year, it also helps us to meet our commitment to improving the safety of all residents and continue making Hackney s streets the most cycle friendly in London.

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “We are extremely pleased to be the first local authority to roll out this course to all our drivers. The training is a highly enjoyable and informative learning experience, giving the Council’s drivers an appreciation of the challenges faced by cyclists.”

The course begins with a classroom session where drivers can openly discuss their views on cycling and cyclists. Next the drivers, some of whom have not been on a bike for 40 years, spend time refreshing their bike control skills in an off road environment before heading out on the road with the National Standard cycling instructors.

Once on the road, drivers learn through practical experience how cyclists ride in a variety of situations and develop ways in which they could alter or improve their own driving to accommodate cyclists when they are back behind the wheel.

As a result of the training some drivers have bought themselves and their families bikes or have taken advantage of the Council s one-to-one cycle training scheme. Supervisors at Volkerhighways, Hackney Council’s highways maintenance contractors, are making more trips by bike around the borough in the course of their work as a result of attending training.

John Harvey, LGV driver from The Learning Trust who attended the course in August, said: “...the course has made me aware of cyclist road positioning with clear and concise reasons. I now understand the importance of giving more space to cyclists and the need to be more patient.”

The course was developed and accredited in conjunction with Transport for London’s Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) group along with a number of other councils and the training provider Cycle Training UK. The Safe Urban Driving course qualifies as part of the seven hours of ongoing professional development which HGV drivers are obliged by EU law to complete each year.

Trevor Parsons, co-ordinator of the London Cycling Campaign in Hackney, said: "This is one of the most inspiring responses yet to the tragedy of pedestrians and cyclists being killed and seriously injured by lorries. We are delighted that hundreds of drivers will be getting practical experience of cycling in the coming years, and we hope that this will help to build a culture of mutual understanding and risk reduction on our streets. We particularly look forward to this training reaching construction-related haulage firms, whose vehicles are disproportionately involved in serious and fatal collisions."

For more information and to find out how to book a place on the free course, which has limited places, contact Hackney Council’s Cycle Training manager Lucy Nandris, 020 8356 6594 or