Bus collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists were significantly reduced on routes operated by three RATP Dev London garages during a pilot safety training scheme for drivers in 2018.
The six-month course was developed as part of a bid for funding from the TfL Bus Safety Innovation Fund. “Our safety team approached the London Cycling Campaign – or LCC – to help us develop a cycling course as part of our application,” explains Matthew Howie, Garage Risk Manager at RATP Dev London. “We worked with LCC because they have a foothold in London and they’re committed to the Mayor’s vision zero strategy to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on London’s roads by 65 per cent with no-one being killed on or by a bus by 2030, on the road to vision zero in 2041.”
The teams set to work on a standardised method to reduce incidents - the Cycling and Walking Champion Model – by identifying the challenges of driving near cyclists and pedestrians, appointing a champion for each garage to run awareness courses and integrate cycling and walking issues into communications, policies and procedures and risk evaluations, organising driver training, and devising ways to bring about a permanent shift in driver culture. “We don’t have cyclist courses at the moment. This is something totally new.”
On the road to success
After the pilot was awarded TfL funding, drivers from three South West London garages - Tolworth, Epsom and Fulwell – took part in five training sessions structured around interactive classroom courses, a cycle ride to observe danger points, and post-ride reviews based on action points for drivers to consider. Feedback from drivers was positive with the majority advising the knowledge gained would be useful in their work. None were involved in an incident with a cyclist or pedestrian during the pilot scheme. “Some hadn’t been on a bike for ten years. It was an eye-opener. They understood what cyclists do and why they do it.” Matthew and his colleagues also devised a novel way to maintain driver awareness: “We are working towards a cycle-to-work scheme and some of the drivers are now regular cyclists – so there are even health benefits.” If plans to convert the pilot into a Certificate of Professional Competence accredited course go ahead, it could be rolled out to the rest of the business by summer next year. “Then I think we’ll see a reduction in incidents next year. Cyclists and pedestrians are unpredictable: a driver can only have so much training. They do their best. If we give them the right tools, we’ll be on the road to success.”