The tireless and all-knowing Dave Holladay asked me to co-sign a letter to today's London Evening Standard on how adding an extra set of little side-mirrors to trucks isn't going magically to stop trucks crushing cyclists with depressing regularity, as some people seem to believe. In my correspondence with Dave, I made a point about trucks which I think is important, and which I'd like to record here:
When I see vans and lorries with their "If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you" signs, I am powerfully inclined to conclude that this simply isn't good enough: if you can't see me and I am in a perfectly reasonable place, your vehicle isn't suitable to be used in an urban environment. Full stop.
And this is the root of it: lorries and other large trucks are designed primarily for the motorway, and the vision they afford the driver is entirely suitable for this, as on a motorway the edges and immediate rear of one's vehicle are largely irrelevant. Lorries should therefore be seen much more like military tanks: great in the environments for which they are designed, but absolutely not suitable for coming into towns and cities. Economics notwithstanding, the "proper" arrangement should be that lorries report to distribution centres at motorway intersections and unload their goods to smaller vans for urban delivery.
So there you have it. Sorry Messrs Tesco, Spencer and Sainsbury - I know you don't like ideas like this. But you can console yourself with the fact your directors' continued affluence has vastly more influence on government policy than road safety, congestion or pollution ever will. And to head off your inevitable counter-point: yes, I will gleefully pay 3p more for each tin of beans I buy if it makes my roads better.