Updated: Lorry ban possible for central London, cycle hire scheme "has limits"

Mayor tells Camden residents that Boris bikes and hills don't mix

by Mark Appleton   November 5, 2010  

London Concrete lorry & bikes.jpg

In a move that could help improve the lot of cyclists in London, Mayor Boris Johnson wants to ban heavy vehicles from the centre of the capital.

Lorries and tipper trucks not only pose a threat to the safety of riders, they have a significantly detrimental effect on air quality and can cause excessive damage to road surfaces.

The Evening Standard reports that Boris Johnson told attendees at a People’s Question Time session that his plan would see heavy vehicles leaving goods at locations around the edges of central London before smaller, less polluting vehicles transfer the goods to their final destination.

The mayor said that if implemented, his plan would make a “real difference.” Pollution in London is said to contribute to the early deaths of between three- and five-thousand people there every year.

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor's transport adviser, said: “He wants TfL to consider whether it might be possible for lorries and vans to stop at consolidation centres on the edge of our city and transfer their goods onto electric or low-emission vehicles for transport through London.

“This could have the double benefit of allowing us to reduce the number of large polluting vehicles but also combine the loads of smaller polluting lorries onto a carbon free vehicle.”

At the Question Time meeting Boris Johnson was also challenged as to why the Barclays cycle hire scheme has not been fully rolled out in the borough of Camden. His reply has caused a degree of consternation among residents as the Mayor effctively told them that the area is too hilly.

“We are working under severe financial restraints but we are moving eastwards – huge areas of Hackney will be covered," he said.

"We are trying to do a deal with a bank so that we can go considerably west. But parts of north London do get quite hilly. There are practical problems that start to impose themselves. There are natural limits to where we can go.” 

17 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

When ive visited london the only lorries you see are contruction vehicles or vehicles delivering construction materials, both things that cant be replaced by small electric milk floats. I rate this a 2/10 chance of actually happening.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [457 posts]
5th November 2010 - 12:09

1 Like

As above really but why not make the hours they can only enter central London between 11pm to 5am?

posted by gazzaputt [192 posts]
5th November 2010 - 12:16

1 Like

Should ban busses and coaches too. That would make a tremendous difference.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1431 posts]
5th November 2010 - 12:53

1 Like

A nice idea but nothing more than that.

posted by jarderich [91 posts]
5th November 2010 - 13:36

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Extremely unlikely I would have thought just wait until businesses based in central London start squealing about it increasing the cost to them. They were opposed to the congestion charge as well. I can see why the Mayor might want it as un-helmeted riders of hire bikes don't real mix well with lorries.

yarrump's picture

posted by yarrump [15 posts]
5th November 2010 - 13:58

1 Like

This was introduced into Dublin a few years ago along the quays that run along side the Liffey. It was estimated overnight there were 7000 less HGV on the roads. Special permits are required to go down. It has made a HUGE difference in the traffic and is much safer to ride as well.

posted by boardmanrider [80 posts]
5th November 2010 - 15:09

1 Like

un-helmeted riders of hire bikes don't real mix well with lorries

get left hooked by a lorry and it's not going to matter much whether you have a helmet on or not.

I doubt there's any way of completely removing lorries from the London streets but like boardmanrider says, reducing their number can make a big difference.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7829 posts]
5th November 2010 - 15:13

1 Like

tbh when I have ridden in London I havent found it a problem - there does seem to be a level of awareness amongst drivers (some cabbies clearly not) of the cyclists that are around. I have been given space and so long as I stick to the rules of the road and dont push my luck I never felt threatened or in danger.

True to say that you could wear downhill body armour and you wont stand a hope against a bus or truck turning in on you though.


PzychotropicMac's picture

posted by PzychotropicMac [85 posts]
5th November 2010 - 15:22

1 Like

Maybe it won't happen as stated but it might shift the goalposts a bit.

Forcing construction companies to include transport vehicles in their health and safety consideration for example so that they became responsible for injury or death caused by lorries i.e traffic which they have caused.

What's the difference between that a company that sets up a crane and if it falls over and kills someone they face inquiry as to whether they took proper precautions.

Apparently there is one according to the HSE.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [684 posts]
5th November 2010 - 16:18

1 Like

Its a good idea that has had a good effect in Dublin.

There are plenty of loads this could reduce traveling through the centre. Where I use to live European HGVs coming up from the channel ports would take a wrong turn and up end stuck in my street. They were often travling through London, but would use Vauxhall bridge route.

Some loads that would have to go into the centre (construction parts) could be taken at certain times to avoid the worst traffic.

posted by thereverent [351 posts]
5th November 2010 - 16:19

1 Like

thereverent wrote:
Some loads that would have to go into the centre (construction parts) could be taken at certain times to avoid the worst traffic.

Agree, but it's got to be managed sensibly. The pic above was taken on the weekend they got all the concrete to The Shard at London Bridge.

Good that they flagged it up in advance, but a truck like this one going past Borough Market every 60 seconds or so on a busy Saturday lunchtime with loads of cyclists and pedestrians (including kids) around? Could have picked a better time if you ask me.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9364 posts]
5th November 2010 - 16:23


"Campden". (Sniggers)

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [229 posts]
5th November 2010 - 17:42

1 Like

Not to forget we have one of the greatest and most underused transport routes in the country - the Thames and the canal system - with British Waterways about to become an independent charity, this could provide a source of income that could help regenerate the waterways (not forgetting a lot of cyclists use toe paths) so everybody wins...

posted by djm778 [33 posts]
5th November 2010 - 22:01

1 Like

Which is better? 1 Lorry with a fairly large engine, or 20 smaller ones with probably 5 times the overall engine size/pollution levels. There are VERY few alternative powered vehicles large enough for anything remotely close to carrying pallets of goods etc.

The better way would be to make most deliver overnight or something like that!!!

posted by keith_newnham [68 posts]
5th November 2010 - 22:19

1 Like

The canals are all ready used by some construction projects. An arts centre on the Regents canal just north of Kings Cross used barges for all it's waste disposal.

Hamster's picture

posted by Hamster [93 posts]
6th November 2010 - 0:07

1 Like

There's a layby-type loop just outside Cambridge on the A603/Barton Road. I've drawn dozens of sketches for HGV-to-cycle depots ('freight depots') which might work and it may be possible to construct said freight depot without purchasing additional land (as in it could be a Cambridge City Council initiative). However, there is a shared-use path that is in a need of reconstruction and Barton Road has parking on both sides 24/7 further into town. Nothing's perfect, though.

Kevin Steinhardt's picture

posted by Kevin Steinhardt [30 posts]
7th November 2010 - 16:46

1 Like

I drive HGV's in London , as well as cars , motorbikes , and my precious Marin . The most dangerous vehicles are generally construction type as a previous post noted . AND bendybuses .

You cannot 'transfer' ready mix concrete , or stick a HIAB (lorry mounted crane) onto a smaller elecric run around , or indeed deliver a ton of bricks or steel to the first floor of a construction site ! How big would the skips be on these new townie vehicles ? Silly .

One thing I do know however is the worrying trend of national builders merchants replacing their delivery fleets with larger triple axel lorries that in my opinion are totally unsuited for multi drop in London . This needs to be looked at .


Richimorton's picture

posted by Richimorton [2 posts]
6th December 2010 - 17:14

1 Like