The City of London Corporation has underlined its commitment to improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians in the famous Square Mile, by launching a ground-breaking construction vehicle from Mercedes-Benz Econic.
The 8×4 Econic wears the colours of the authority’s Bow-based fleet contractor JB Riney, which was the first operator to place an order for the new tipper-grab. It was supplied by Dealer S & B Commercials.
The Econic features a deep, panoramic windscreen and a fully-glazed kerbside door. This, coupled with a much lower seating position compared to a conventional construction truck, affords unrivalled visibility. It allows the driver to see, and even make direct eye contact with those on bicycles and motorbikes, or on foot, at potentially hazardous junctions. Safety is further enhanced by a full complement of cameras.
Fittingly, the new vehicle was unveiled at the Aldgate Gyratory, an area which is now the subject of a major development project designed, among other things, to enhance safety by creating new cycling routes and pedestrian cross points.
Michael Welbank, Chairman of the Planning & Transportation Committee at the City of London Corporation, said: “We take the issue of road safety incredibly seriously and I am delighted that we have adopted this new, high-visibility tipper. Anything which improves the field of vision for a lorry driver, so they can better see vulnerable road users, is a welcome step forward.
The new Mercedes-Benz will be assigned to the Aldgate scheme until late summer. It is carrying spoil from the site back to JB Riney’s transfer yard, from where it is sent for recycling, and delivering materials such as sand, concrete and paving slabs.
An Econic 3235 ENA model, the truck has a single front steer axle, a double-drive bogie and a rear-steer axle. This configuration gives it an impressively tight turning circle, and makes it significantly more manoeuvrable than a standard 32-tonne construction eight-wheeler, a major advantage for operation in the City’s tight streets.
The Econic is powered by a fuel-efficient, 7.7-litre six-cylinder engine which produces 260 kW (354 hp) and drives through a six-speed Allison automatic gearbox. It is fitted with a Charlton steel tipping body and Palfinger Epsilon M135L radio remote-controlled crane with clamshell bucket.
The heightened focus on cyclist and pedestrian safety in busy urban areas means the Econic is now attracting interest and early orders from the construction sector – the first tipper without a grab has been in service since last summer, and the manufacturer has also developed 26-tonne mixer and an 18-tonne skip-loader variants for demonstration purposes.
The vehicle runs on full air suspension so is relatively quiet in operation. Its low-entry cab, meanwhile, has just two steps rather than the traditional four, which also reduces the risk of access and egress injuries, while easy through-cab access allows the driver and any passengers to enter and exit safely on the non-traffic side.
City of London Business Improvement & Performance Manager Vince Dignam encouraged JB Riney to commission the new vehicle. “I really like the concept,” he said. “We are committed supporters of the CLOCS (Construction Logistics & Cyclist Safety) and FORS (Freight Operator Recognition Scheme) initiatives, and this vehicle is definitely setting new standards. Like the view from its cab, the safety benefits are clear to see.”
Barry Parker is Transport & Vehicle Purchase Manager at JB Riney. “We spent a lot of time talking to representatives of Mercedes-Benz and to S & B Commercials’ Key Account Manager Vick Croker, to ensure we had the specification spot on,” he recalled. “It’s a beautiful piece of equipment, the rear-steer system being particularly impressive.”