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Outright ban on unsafe lorries and lobbying Brussels for safer cabs

 

Mayor of London Boris Johnson this week launched a two-pronged assault on the use of deadly lorries on London roads. Mr Johnson has accused the government of blocking European legislation that would improve safety for other road users and today announced a blanket ban on lorries without side guards and safety mirrors.

The Safer Lorry Scheme, announced today, sees Transport for London and the London boroughs come together to implement a ban on all lorries that lack certain safety features including as side guards and mirrors.

The move toughens up a previously-planned policy of charging unsafe lorries to enter London, replacing the proposed charge with a fine of £130.

The new rules will apply to all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes. An estimated 30,000 vehicles will be affected, according to the Evening Standard’s Matthew Beard, mostly tipper trucks, cement mixers, and skip and scaffolding lorries.

According to BikeBiz’ Carlton Reid, the implementation will involve a traffic regulation order by Transport for London to ban HGVs without the required equipment from the roads it controls, which carry about 45 per cent of all HGV traffic in London. The London Councils' Transport and Environment Committee (TEC), on which all 32 boroughs, the Corporation of London and TfL sit, plans to start the process of making a pan-London Traffic Regulation Order for borough roads at its meeting in March.

The plan would create what the mayor has dubbed a Safer Lorry Zone within the M25. The effect would therefore probably spread much further than London as any lorry likely to cross the M25 would have to meet the standard.

Despite making up just four percent of London’s traffic, large vehicles are disproportionately represented in fatal and serious crashes involving cyclists. Between 2008 and 2012, HGVs were involved in 53 per cent of London cyclist deaths.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "In my Cycling Vision, I said that no lorry should be allowed in London unless it is fitted with equipment to protect cyclists. Neither I nor the boroughs have the power to ban lorries without safety equipment on our own. It was for that reason that I proposed to use a power I do have, to levy a hefty charge on lorries without such equipment. But I am pleased to say that after negotiations with London Councils, we can now combine our powers to propose a simple and comprehensive ban."

London's Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy CBE said: "London has long led the way in working with the freight industry to drive up standards, especially in terms of greater road safety, better driver training and reduced vehicle emissions. TfL will work with the London boroughs to deliver this proposed Safer Lorry Scheme and further demonstrate our commitment to safer roads for all."

Chair of London Councils' Transport and Environment Committee, Councillor Catherine West said: "London Councils is supportive of further action to improve cycle safety in London and will continue to work closely with the Mayor and Transport for London to develop the proposal for a new London-wide Safer Lorry Scheme.

"London Councils is currently consulting on plans to improve cycle safety in London by making changes to the London Lorry Control Scheme that would require all lorries weighing over 18 tonnes to have extra mirrors and side guards before being issued a permit under the scheme."

Under national legislation, many HGVs, such as supermarket delivery lorries and the like, are fitted with sidebars or low skirts which protect cyclists from being dragged underneath the vehicle and crushed.

However, construction lorries, tipper trucks, waste vehicles, cement mixers and certain other forms of HGV are exempt from these and other safety requirements. The rising number of such vehicles in London's building boom is a serious hazard to the growing number of cyclists, who now make up almost a quarter of all rush hour traffic in the centre.

Of the 16 cyclist deaths in London in 2011, nine involved HGVs. Of these nine, seven were construction lorries.

The Brussels connection

Boris Johnson has also accused the Government of working against European plans for new HGV cab designs that would improve safety for vulnerable road users.

The Mayor’s cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan and other cycling campaigners were in Brussels yesterday to lobby MEPs to make mandatory new cabs with improved sightlines for drivers, reduced blind spots and sloping fronts to lessen any damage caused to cyclists and pedestrians.

But ministers have been accused of briefing MEPs that the move might harm British manufacturing interests.

Brois Johnson said: “If these amendments, supported by dozens of cities across Europe, can succeed, we can save literally hundreds of lives across the EU in years to come. I am deeply concerned at the position of the British Government and urge them to embrace this vital issue.”

British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman added: “It would be criminal for us to know how to save lives and then choose not to take action.”

Truck makers Skania and MAN favour the new designs, but Daimler is opposed because it has recently introduced new trucks.

The introduction of the new cab designs is snarled up in measures intended to standardise lorry designs across Europe, which with Austria and some environmental groups fear is a Trojan Horse to introduce larger lorries.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

27 comments

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paulrbarnard [182 posts] 2 years ago
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If the vehicle is not fitted with the safety equipment simply confiscate the vehicle. Much more effective than a £130 fine.

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userfriendly [551 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

Truck makers Skania and MAN favour the new designs, but Daimler is opposed because it has recently introduced new trucks.

Ah yes, poor Daimler. Perfectly understandable, I mean who cares about the lives of people they don't know, protect my money!

I wonder how quickly Daimler would turn to favouring those designs if one of the CEO's family members had been crushed to death by such a vehicle.

Selfish greedy pricks.

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Leviathan [1886 posts] 2 years ago
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Side guards would make lorries more aero, don't know if this is a good thing or not.

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 2 years ago
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This is a good news story but its really a very small step.

The reality is that lorries pose a high risk to vunerable road users and the volume of them on urban streets (not just London) remains unacceptable. These safety features are no bad thing but the key to improving safety lies in removing as many of these vehicles as possible from urban areas.

The other thing I'd like to see Boris do is to ban the use of contracts that reward drivers for speed/number of journeys. These contracts put constant presure on drivers so they are, in effect, always in a hurry. Not a good situation.

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congokid [262 posts] 2 years ago
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paulrbarnard wrote:

If the vehicle is not fitted with the safety equipment simply confiscate the vehicle. Much more effective than a £130 fine.

If the recent police check of HGVs at three sites in London last November is anything to go by, most of the vehicles will be breaking some safety rule or other. Of the 20 lorries stopped then, only five were satisfactory.

If those checking do their jobs properly, most of those vehicles checked should be removed from the roads.

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 2 years ago
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Not sure about the title of this article either. Maybe 'Boris Johnson in moves to make deadly lorries slightly safer' would fit the bill better. There is no intent to actually remove them at all.

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Shep73 [211 posts] 2 years ago
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Not sure how guards will make that much difference, if a lorry comes up against a soft cyclist you are still f**ked whether you go underneath its wheels or not.

Take restricters of HGV's so they can actually improve delivery times on the motorway sections so they can gain more time in the city areas.

Educate cyclists because lets face it, not all our born with common sense or they wouldn't go up the inside of an HGV with plenty of blind spots where the driver cannot see them.

Put proximity sensors on trailers and cabs to alert drivers of said impatient cyclists. Have a screen in the cab with birds eye view drawing of the lorry and use dots to show where the cyclist is in relation to the drawing, or take it a step further and implement the reversing camera in cars and have one down by the front bumper facing backwards on each side.

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 2 years ago
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Removing motorway restrictions on lorries will not lead to better driving in town. Sorry, it just won't.

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IanW1968 [267 posts] 2 years ago
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Matts got it,
you can't incentives the sale of financial products because it causes financial harm.
But you can incentivise driving because that only causes physical harm.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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As an artic driver, I welcome any measures to improve safety, but drivers are just as likely to suffer from "risk compensation" as other road users, so we mustn't see this initiative as a panacea for all ills. My advice? Don't let modern safety systems lull you into a false sense of security.

The message must remain crystal clear, no matter how many "safety systems" are in place - never intentionally place yourself in close proximity to a moving truck.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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As an artic driver, I welcome any measures to improve safety, but drivers are just as likely to suffer from "risk compensation" as other road users, so we mustn't see this initiative as a panacea for all ills. My advice? Don't let modern safety systems lull you into a false sense of security.

The message must remain crystal clear, no matter how many "safety systems" are in place - never intentionally place yourself in close proximity to a moving truck, or indeed one that might start moving at any moment.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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*sighs*

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pmanc [202 posts] 2 years ago
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Ok, there are laws against pavement cycling and fines - bear with me - presumably because pedestrians are deemed to be vulnerable (compared with cyclists) and society has decided they shouldn't have to interact with cyclists in their dedicated "protected space".

I can see the wisdom of this (although there are more and more cars on pavements these days), but if it's true, how is it possibly ever reasonable to expect cyclists to interact with massive HGVs without any protection, whether the lorries have mirrors or not.

Well done Boris for making the effort though. At least we're moving in the right direction on this one.

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OldRidgeback [2592 posts] 2 years ago
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congokid wrote:
paulrbarnard wrote:

If the vehicle is not fitted with the safety equipment simply confiscate the vehicle. Much more effective than a £130 fine.

If the recent police check of HGVs at three sites in London last November is anything to go by, most of the vehicles will be breaking some safety rule or other. Of the 20 lorries stopped then, only five were satisfactory.

If those checking do their jobs properly, most of those vehicles checked should be removed from the roads.

The police only stopped HGVs they thought might be defective, and sure enough, a significant percentage were.

It takes no great skill to spot defective vehicles on the road network. There are so many of them. Usuallythis may be due to things that can be easily remedied, such as flat tyres or broken tail lights. But the problems can also be much more serious.

As a cyclist/motorcyclist (and engineering graduate) I've developed a pretty good awareness of suspect vehicles. General rule - if a car/truck/bus looks dirty and bashed up, then keep your distance.

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pmanc [202 posts] 2 years ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:

General rule - if a car/truck/bus looks dirty and bashed up, then keep your distance.

I wonder if your (pretty sensible) rule or Boris's new regs would have avoided the accident that very nearly took Boris out in 2009...
as reported in the Mirror (with video)

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kie7077 [861 posts] 2 years ago
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A fine of £130, good grief, these people have no idea about money, they must be stinking rich to come up with that.

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 2 years ago
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It's really legal for them to not have mirrors???

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Paul_C [427 posts] 2 years ago
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saw a lorry in Cheltenham this afternoon that actually complied with all of these regulations in respect to mirrors and side guards... very nice... now to insist on them actually looking in the mirrors while driving around...

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ron611087 [330 posts] 2 years ago
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I suspect Cynthia Barlow from RoadPeace had a lot more to do with this than Boris, who, like the politician he is will take all the credit.

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Stratman [75 posts] 2 years ago
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bikeboy76 wrote:

Side guards would make lorries more aero, don't know if this is a good thing or not.

As opposed to chocolate bars that would make them more yorkie

I'll get me coat...

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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Paul_C wrote:

saw a lorry in Cheltenham this afternoon that actually complied with all of these regulations in respect to mirrors and side guards... very nice... now to insist on them actually looking in the mirrors while driving around...

Nothing personal, but you've echoed a point shared by many cyclists, and it's a potentially dangerous misconception.

It's important to bear in mind that our central focus can only be on one mirror at a time, and that there are a whole host of other things that are grabbing our attention, as drivers, simultaneously.

We do our best, but most people would be surprised at how fast the view from the cab changes in each mirror, and each screen, and each vehicle guage, camera and monitoring system, as we, and other road users, move, sometimes very rapidly, in relation to each other.

If you are unfortunate enough to make a move, at the same time as a dozen other cyclists and pedestrians, and other road users, and I just happen to be looking in a different mirror, or screen, or vehicle guage, or monitoring system, or traffic light, or road sign, at the precise moment you might have preferred me to be looking at you, then you may, with the benefit of hindsight, have chosen, on that particular day, at that very moment, at that particular spot, to have avoided leaving your survival to pure chance.

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oldstrath [581 posts] 2 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:

As an artic driver, I welcome any measures to improve safety, but drivers are just as likely to suffer from "risk compensation" as other road users, so we mustn't see this initiative as a panacea for all ills. My advice? Don't let modern safety systems lull you into a false sense of security.

The message must remain crystal clear, no matter how many "safety systems" are in place - never intentionally place yourself in close proximity to a moving truck.

And what advice do you have when the driver deliberately puts me in his blind spot? Disapparate?

Avatar
Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
oldstrath wrote:
Neil753 wrote:

As an artic driver, I welcome any measures to improve safety, but drivers are just as likely to suffer from "risk compensation" as other road users, so we mustn't see this initiative as a panacea for all ills. My advice? Don't let modern safety systems lull you into a false sense of security.

The message must remain crystal clear, no matter how many "safety systems" are in place - never intentionally place yourself in close proximity to a moving truck.

And what advice do you have when the driver deliberately puts me in his blind spot? Disapparate?

I did say "intentionally". I appreciate there are some poor drivers out there, but it's all about reducing personal risk, as and when you can.

It's a tricky issue but my advice, since you asked, is if you do find yourself in a driver's blind spot, through no fault of your own, you have to make a choice. Either stay there and hope for the best, or ecstricate yourself from that situation sharpish. And, if you find this happening regularly, you should consider changing your route, or varying your time of travel. I would also advocate making yourself as visible as possible, positioning yourself so that your intentions are clearer to the driver, or, as I do quite often, getting off my bike and negotiating the junction on foot. I certainly feel a lot safer doing this, and it only adds a few seconds to my journey.

So there's a few tips for you.

Avatar
BigBear63 [80 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
pmanc wrote:

Ok, there are laws against pavement cycling and fines - bear with me - presumably because pedestrians are deemed to be vulnerable (compared with cyclists) and society has decided they shouldn't have to interact with cyclists in their dedicated "protected space".

I can see the wisdom of this (although there are more and more cars on pavements these days), but if it's true, how is it possibly ever reasonable to expect cyclists to interact with massive HGVs without any protection, whether the lorries have mirrors or not.

Well done Boris for making the effort though. At least we're moving in the right direction on this one.

Your point is well made and one I have made myself on a number of occasions.

Cyclists are more like pedestrians than they are like motor vehicles, and especially lorries. Is this not obvious to everyone?

If it is too difficult to separate bikes and motor vehicles in the road space then the only option is, surely, to allow cyclists and pedestrians to share pedestrian space more frequently.

Obviously, this option will require a good deal of responsibility and consideration on the part of the cyclist but we are not going to see death and mayhem in the way we have with the cycling/lorry mix. We already have cyclists allowed on footpaths in designated places and all we need to do is extend this policy further. Why is that so difficult?

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dpaj1066 [34 posts] 2 years ago
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As a cyclist, motorcyclist (not around London though) and an HGV driver driving into London on a weekly basis I am amazed at the number of cyclists that put themselves into dangerous positions near lorries. I always check all mirrors and delay pulling away from traffic lights to allow cyclists & motorcyclists to get away before I pull away. Sadly not all lorry drivers are as patient as me or appreciate how vulnerable other road users can be. This includes pedestrians, only yesterday I was at a roundabout at the give way line near Elephant & Castle when I noticed a woman step in front of my lorry very close to the front of me, if I hadn't caught sight of her she could easily have been knocked down and killed!

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oldstrath [581 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Neil753 wrote:
oldstrath wrote:
Neil753 wrote:

As an artic driver, I welcome any measures to improve safety, but drivers are just as likely to suffer from "risk compensation" as other road users, so we mustn't see this initiative as a panacea for all ills. My advice? Don't let modern safety systems lull you into a false sense of security.

The message must remain crystal clear, no matter how many "safety systems" are in place - never intentionally place yourself in close proximity to a moving truck.

And what advice do you have when the driver deliberately puts me in his blind spot? Disapparate?

I did say "intentionally". I appreciate there are some poor drivers out there, but it's all about reducing personal risk, as and when you can.

It's a tricky issue but my advice, since you asked, is if you do find yourself in a driver's blind spot, through no fault of your own, you have to make a choice. Either stay there and hope for the best, or ecstricate yourself from that situation sharpish. And, if you find this happening regularly, you should consider changing your route, or varying your time of travel. I would also advocate making yourself as visible as possible, positioning yourself so that your intentions are clearer to the driver, or, as I do quite often, getting off my bike and negotiating the junction on foot. I certainly feel a lot safer doing this, and it only adds a few seconds to my journey.

So there's a few tips for you.

Of course the driver could behave safely, but my god, that might require him to add maybe 5 seconds to his journey. Yes, I do know that most HGV drivers are excellent at a nearly impossible job. But frankly a small proportion are arrogant twomks who shouldn't be in charge of a kitten, never mind a killing machine.

Even the excellent ones, as you have pointed out, sometimes cannot physically do all the things needed to keep everyone around them safe. I think you make the argument for separated infrastructure very well.

Avatar
oldstrath [581 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
oldstrath wrote:
Neil753 wrote:
oldstrath wrote:
Neil753 wrote:

As an artic driver, I welcome any measures to improve safety, but drivers are just as likely to suffer from "risk compensation" as other road users, so we mustn't see this initiative as a panacea for all ills. My advice? Don't let modern safety systems lull you into a false sense of security.

The message must remain crystal clear, no matter how many "safety systems" are in place - never intentionally place yourself in close proximity to a moving truck.

And what advice do you have when the driver deliberately puts me in his blind spot? Disapparate?

I did say "intentionally". I appreciate there are some poor drivers out there, but it's all about reducing personal risk, as and when you can.

It's a tricky issue but my advice, since you asked, is if you do find yourself in a driver's blind spot, through no fault of your own, you have to make a choice. Either stay there and hope for the best, or ecstricate yourself from that situation sharpish. And, if you find this happening regularly, you should consider changing your route, or varying your time of travel. I would also advocate making yourself as visible as possible, positioning yourself so that your intentions are clearer to the driver, or, as I do quite often, getting off my bike and negotiating the junction on foot. I certainly feel a lot safer doing this, and it only adds a few seconds to my journey.

So there's a few tips for you.

Of course the driver could behave safely, but my god, that might require him to add maybe 5 seconds to his journey. Yes, I do know that most HGV drivers are excellent at a nearly impossible job. But frankly a small proportion are arrogant twomks who shouldn't be in charge of a kitten, never mind a killing machine.

Even the excellent ones, as you have pointed out, sometimes cannot physically do all the things needed to keep everyone around them safe. I think you make the argument for separated infrastructure very well.

Just to be clear, so I don’t get more advice to 'make your intentions clearer'. It's only happened once (so enough times to imprint distrust of all HGV drivers). I was at the head of a red light queue, in the left hand of two lanes, intending to go straight ahead, so in primary. The wagon pulled out into the right hand lane, pulled alongside, then indicated left. As recommended, I got out of the way. He did indeed turn left.

Now maybe he would have waited, but hoping some guy who could squash me without noticing has my interests at heart is not a survival strategy. I wrote to his company, but he denied any wrongdoing, and they apparently took his side. Not surprising, but that's one company I won't be buying from again.