Bustling central Melbourne will be safer for bike riders and pedestrians following the introduction of modern, low-cabin trucks to the City of Melbourne’s waste collection service.
With huge glass windscreens and side-windows, the drivers have a super-wide field of view, and bike riders are easily noticed from the cabin.
There are no blind spots in front of the driver, as is the case with many heavy vehicles currently plying the city streets.
The truck has a 360 degree camera system that displays an image of the entire surroundings of the vehicle on a hi-res screen to the operator.
And there is a reverse gear braking system that automatically applies the brakes if an object comes within set parameters of the vehicle.
The safety of waste trucks has long been an issue of concern, highlighted by the recent death of bike riders in a collision with a recycling truck operated for the City of Greater Bendigo.
The City of Melboure waste fleet is operate by Citywide, which recently won a new contract from the City.
The vehicles were custom-built in Melbourne by Bucher Municipal, using a Dennis chassis.
Additional safety benefits have resulted from the compact design of the vehicles, which makes them more manoeuvrable in confined spaces.
Citywide also operates an extra compact electric-powered garbage truck that can sneak into small streets and laneways.
In Europe low cab trucks are already in widespread use for multiple tasks in dense urban areas because of their safety advantages.
And some public and private waste operators have introduced trucks with similar features as the Citywide vehicles.
Bike riders should always be on the alert around waste trucks, even well-designed ones.
The trucks stop and start frequently, and because they operate with hazard flashers on, it can be difficult to predict turning movements.
As well, drivers and crew are frequently alighting from the vehicle, and their safety is also important.