CTC urges cyclists to write to MPs and oppose plans for longer lorries

Fears that government set to push through laws that will result in greater danger to bike riders

by Simon_MacMichael   September 1, 2011  

Longer lorries courtesy CTC.jpg

CTC is urging the country’s cyclists to get behind a campaign it has launched to oppose plans to allow longer lorries on Britain’s roads, which it says will result in a greater threat to bike riders' safety, and is asking them to write to their MPs and ask them to contact Road Safety Minister Mike Penning.

The government is due to announce later this month its decision over whether to increase the maximum permitted length of a cab plus trailer to 18.55 metres in length, compared to the existing 16.5 metres – an increase of more than 12 per cent.

The national cyclists’ organisation fears that if the longer vehicles are allowed, there will be an increase in the number of cyclists killed after being hit by heavy goods vehicles, which are already responsible for a disproportionate number of casualities.

In particular, the organisation says that the longer vehicles would pose an increased danger due both to their length of tail swing as well as the extent to which they cut into corners when turning, a factor behind the deaths of a number of riders killed after being trapped on the inside of left-turning lorries.

CTC says that while left turns are a factor in just 3 per cent of all road fatalities in which a lorry is involved, they are responsible for 38 per cent of deaths of cyclists on the roads. It adds that research commissioned by Freight on Rail and the Campaign for Better Transport also demonstrates that longer lorries would mean poorer road safety.

CTC Campaigns Director, Roger Geffen, says: “Lorries present a serious risk to cyclists – one in five of the deaths of cyclists involve lorries. Allowing even longer lorries onto our roads will mean larger ‘blind spots’, more tail swing and a greater risk of hitting other road users. Instead of increasing the danger from lorries, the Government should be working to reduce the threat that already exists."

The previous Labour government consistently opposed calls from the freight haulage industry for longer lorries to be permitted in Britain, but last year, following the formation of the coalition government, Minister of State for Transport Theresa Villiers gave a hint of what may lie ahead.

Speaking to the Rail Freight Group Annual Conference last October, she said: “Like our predecessors, we reject the proposal to pilot Longer Heavier vehicles exceeding 18.75 metres in length.

“Quite apart from the concerns of the rail freight industry, we simply do not believe the nation’s roads are designed to deal with such vehicles and are not persuaded by the arguments for their introduction.”

While on the face of it that sounds like a rejection of calls to increase length, the 18.75 metres the minister cited is longer than even that currently being contemplated, at 18.55 metres.

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988 such an increase may be approved by the Secretary of State for Transport without needing the approval of Parliament.

According to a report from the Department for Transport unveiled in March and welcomed by organisations including the Freight Transport Association, there will be a trial period of the proposed new rules.

Lack of consultation with bodies such as CTC and Sustrans that respresent vulnerable road users including walkers and cyclists suggests that the government’s mind is already made up on the issue, however.

Earlier this year, CTC joined with the Campaign for Better Transport, Freight on Rail, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Sustrans, Friends of the Earth and RoadPeace to warn that the proposed measure would result in six extra deaths on UK roads every year, with the biggest danger being to cyclists.

CTC has made available on its website a form which, once the template has been filled out, will automatically send an email to your MP asking them to contact Mr Penning.

30 user comments

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I'm neither for or against this to be honest

Allowing larger lorries will benefit alot of companies up here by allowing more to be delivered at once and therefore cutting delivery costs

But i do understand the safety issue aswell, but i'm not going to know the difference if i'm hit by 16.5m or a 18.55m lorry, they are both going to hurt or kill me

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9362 posts]
1st September 2011 - 19:57


At least keep them out of central london. I don't care how big they are so long as they're not charging down country lanes or central london roads where they don't fit.


posted by kaptnkrunch [57 posts]
1st September 2011 - 20:39


Not really much different to a bendy bus, they're 18m. Although they bend in the middle so don't swing as wide on turning.

As Gkam84 says, it doesn't really bother me. It's not all the lorries fault either, I think cyclists bear some responsibility for not attempting overtake or undertake manouvres while the lorry is trying to negotiate a tight space.

posted by crazy-legs [654 posts]
1st September 2011 - 21:35


Gkam - If you just missed getting tail-swiped by a 16.5 metre lorry, you'd be glad it wasn't a couple of metres longer (and you'd still be here to tell the tale).

Crazy-legs - Educating new/inexperienced cyclists is a big part of it, yes - I will never forget the time I saw a 20-something female ride up the inside of a left-turning lorry, then herself turn RIGHT in front of it and escape death by inches. But lorries *do* represent a danger to more vulnerable road users - pretty much all of us - and besides taking any action we can to limit that risk, which includes limiting size, anything that reduces their number on the roads must be a good thing.

kaptnkrunch - Funny you should mention country lanes, a while back on a Sunday afternoon of all times, very close to picture-postcardy Burford, I bricked myself when I saw an artic truck/trailer being squeezed down a country lane, got myself off the road sharpish. Turns out there was a haulage depot there. Of course that wouldn't have happened in France. Germany, Italy and some other EU countries that ban big lorries on Sundays.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [9507 posts]
1st September 2011 - 22:04


Simon, i've been hit twice by lorries on country lanes up here, funny enough, both from the same company and both very large trying to fit down roads that cannot accommodate them

First one overtook my uphill and i got hit by the back corner as it swung out to get round the next bend and the second one i was going uphill and it coming down and got a glancing blow from the drivers side as i jumped outta the way into a ditch, both drivers not bothering to stop either

So i know what its like and still dont see the difference 2m will make apart from causing another stir which makes cyclist's look like they are out against any form of motor vehicle on the roads, we have to live in their world else we would all be mountain bikers on hill tracks and off road, WE make a choice to use the roads and YES they could be alot safer with some driver awareness and thoughtfulness, but at the end of the day, we need to share the roads with them and not campaign against ever single change that "Might" make things more dangerous

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9362 posts]
1st September 2011 - 22:49


In the main - if you don't undertake, as a cyclist, you'll be fine. Too many people (Old St roundabout in London is a classic) on two wheels pile into gaps that disappear. Whether it's a bus, a rigid, or an artic makes no difference. Getting squashed by a disappearing gap makes no sense. And I see it too many times. But it's other cyclists being daft, nothing else.

The extra space on the proposal is no bad thing. They won't have a higher gross weight, just have more room for goods. A good thing in my view.

Both CTC and Sustrans should focus their energies elsewhere in my opinion.

posted by bobalicious [5 posts]
1st September 2011 - 22:57


Wise up CTC and Road.cc
Stop behaving like Daily Mail journalists and end the witch hunting of the haulage industry. Instead, lets get our own house in order and educate the mindless riders who compromise their own safety in order to save a few seconds (in effect, acting like car drivers, kinda ironic really).

posted by jarderich [91 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 0:00


Pleased to see common sense replies here rather than knee jerk truck and trucker bashing. These new wagons will be 95% on motorways, no-one wants them in town especially the operators. CTC should find better uses for its (our?) time and money.

posted by wakou [83 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 0:42


wakou wrote:
Pleased to see common sense replies here rather than knee jerk truck and trucker bashing. These new wagons will be 95% on motorways, no-one wants them in town especially the operators. CTC should find better uses for its (our?) time and money.

Trust me, no-one is more pleased than me after my opening comment, i thought i would just get a right ear bashing, but it seems the consensus is about the same

Yes we dont want them tearing around the country lanes, but in this ever expanding country, we need to accept that larger vehicles can ship more around and saving costs

Also with the rise year on year of online shopping, large lorries for courier and mail companies can only benefit us in our pockets.

I went onto CTC, which is a website i avoid normally because they always seem to be "against" something and i dont like the way the rags always are using them for quotes......A CTC spokesman said this and that........They just seem to be a figure head for the gob sh*t cyclists who take issue with everything and i dont want to be associated with that.

So anyways, i went on there and saw their campaign for "freight on rail" to me thats a joke, my nearest railway station that can handle freight is over 40 miles away, so how do the shops here get things?? oh yeah, thats right, big artic's coming up country lanes, its a necessary evil, but if they can carry more, then in theory, we may see less of them having to come here as they can deliver more at once Big Grin

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9362 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 1:05


It's true that the bodies mentioned above CTC, Campaign for Better Transport, Freight on Rail, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Sustrans, Friends of the Earth and RoadPeace all have an agenda, but it's rather sad that "our" agenda is the misguided belief that this will lower delivery costs and mean you get your latest rims for £20 cheaper from an online retailer rather than your LBS.

The issue is not whether a 18.5M lorry is more capable of injury than a 16.5M one, rather, it is more likely to injure. Though maybe I'm wrong... Gkam's been hit twice by a lorry and survived. Perhaps if one had been an 18M-mutha he'd be toast?

posted by tombarr [17 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 1:40


Now this is where i take issue, WHY is it more likely to injure anyone? Unless you put yourself in a position that may result in you getting injured, i dont see where they can find ANY proof that it would endanger more lives. Yes they may be 2m longer, but they are not going to be any heavier or faster, they are going to be driven the same way as trucks just now are.

If you put yourself into a situation where you are going to get hurt by a truck then thats your own stupid fault and i can sight numerous videos of people doing this with all types of vehicles.

The CTC should concentrate more on educating cyclists about THEIR actions instead of blaming every other person on the road, They sight bigger blind spots on these lorries, WELL tell us all with video's and the like of these blind spots, where they are and how to avoid them, people might take heed of this, They also say about more road damage caused by these lorries, but surely a larger lorry will create more tax, use more fuel and therefore be putting money back into the government purse..........oh yeah, but i forgot, they are cutting everything and not bothering with fixing road, this is not the haulage industries fault, so dont go blaming road damage solely on them, yes they may cause it quicker than other road users, but they pay higher road taxes which are supposed to go back into the roads networks, but as we ALL know to well, this is not the case and from top to bottom, Government to local councils, they all complain but do nothing.

I was only pointing out that delivery costs may be one benefit, not lower costs though, but not only to online shoppers, take your LBS, if they can get more in a delivery at once, its also going to save them money

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9362 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 6:41


blimey, some sensible comment here.

Won't make much difference to me at all, a tool in a 16.5m lorry is the same as a tool in an 18.5m lorry.

I'll keep myself out both's way where I can, and if not I'll be too mashed to care how big it was.

I'd much rather the ctc spent their time (and my subscription) campaigning for the adherence to existing road rules by all users - a day in london at a busy junction with a video camera would give far more food for thought than this.

posted by the-yorkshire-p... [180 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 9:33


My issue is not so much about the length of HGVs but where they are used. I would have no problem if I was sure 18m HGVs would only be used on motorways between depots.
But in the last few years firm have started using larger vehicle to deliver to places down small roads. Small local supermarket which use to be restocked by vans, now have full size HGVs squeezing down small streets then blocking the road while they unload. Any parking fine they incure is taking as part of the delievry cost.

That's why I don't support the longer HGVs.

posted by thereverent [354 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 9:56


Thereverent is spot-on. "Road trains" would not be so bad an idea, if they were confined to roads which can clearly accomodate them and where they don't pose a danger to other vehicles or to neighbouring property/people. That means that there has to be a distribution system which permits their cargos to be offloaded onto smaller vehicles for the final few miles into the city street/rural lane network. Such has been suggestsed for major cities like London, with depots in the suburbs, but somehow I don't see that going down well with the hauliers - larger lorries are about reducing cost per tonne and distribution systems are not going to do that

posted by Paul M [343 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 12:44


My personal sentiment is that a truck never killed anyone bike deaths are cause by drivers and cyclists. I am sure this will go through to appease the hauliers fuel lobby. We will see more deaths because of it, I don't know and projections are just that. I think cyclists will need to wise up in the way we have about bendy buses, you think twice before shooting up the inside or outside of one of them. I certainly feel more in danger from ford transits than artics. Thinking

The Logistics Project's
Geograhic Information Mapping Project

Riders do your bit in disaster relief - info@thelogisticsproject.org

posted by TLP GIMP RIDER [7 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 13:49


Now i understand why that would work down in England because you have motorways everywhere, when you come to Scotland, they end at Perth, which is around 85 miles from me, so if as you suggest, they can only use them on motorways, that pretty much makes them useless in Scotland, Perth to Inverness is around 100 miles and then you've got everything north of that aswell, just not going to work that way, so then you'd have to split onto two 16.5m lorry's or a number of smaller trucks and vans, simply not cost effective for companies and they might aswell just load everything onto 16.5m's and leave from wherever with them

You have to accept that if this is allowed, you will see them on smaller roads and maybe even roads that are not suitable for their size, but thats nothing new, you see that all the time just now

Up here i'd much rather have lorries all over the road than the boy racers who drive with a death wish, but that happens when its the easiest place in the UK to pass your driving license, NO round about, NO traffic lights, NO pedestrian crossing's, basically nothing to worry anyone learning to drive

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9362 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 13:53


As devil's advocate, I would point out that is *has* been suggested that larger trucks can carry greater loads

This is anticipated to have two potential direct effects

1. up to 10% fewer such vehicles on the road
2. significantly increased damage to road surfaces not properly suited to such vehicles

As for the collision issue - while any loss of life is tragic - surely cyclists should know not to filter up the left-hand side of a bus or HGV?

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [586 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 14:00


mad_scot_rider wrote:

As for the collision issue - while any loss of life is tragic - surely cyclists should know not to filter up the left-hand side of a bus or HGV?

You would think eh??



I follow that and each new video shocks me with what some of the idiots do while cycling

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9362 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 14:46


>But it's other cyclists being daft, nothing else.

>they are going to be driven the same way as trucks just >now are.

Having been on the other end of a few overtakes where the *cab* was a sensible distance away as the overtake started, but I was sh*tting myself as to where the back end was going to wind up (and it *was* close - I had to brake to ensure I didn't get swiped), I beg to differ.

If the driver can make a decent overtake - fair enough - but the further away the back end is from the front end, the harder it'll be for the driver to judge where the back of the vehicle is as he pulls in. Where do you draw the line - 18 meters, 25 meters, 40 meters..? And like many drivers, even a (generally better/better trained) commercial driver may still make a bad call on overtake distances.

Now, I could be wrong, but ISTR that overtaking trucks on the motorway get flashed by the overtakee to say when they're safe to pull in...if they know where the back of the truck is, surely there's no need ? (other than being a matter of road manners).

posted by JonD [349 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 15:02


Those bigger trucks are simply not suitable for use on a vast percentage of the UK road network. And yes, they will increase safety risks for cyclists and motorcyclists in particular, but also car and van occupants too. I very much doubt that their being allowed on UK roads will result in a significant reduction on the numbers of heavy trucks on our already congested road network or in significant cuts in product costs for consumers. They may benefit hauliers, who admittedly are pretty hard pressed at present, but they won't anyone else.


posted by OldRidgeback [2580 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 16:12


As a CTC member I'm becoming more and more discouraged by their style of campaigning. As for the lorry issue have the cyclist / hgv fatalities not in the main been caused by 10m 8 wheel tippers?

posted by rootes [46 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 18:15

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There is a very significant safety issue that no-one has touched on here. The longer a vehicle is, the more space it needs to turn. Where the width of roads are limited, longer lorries means that junctions need to be 'flared' (i.e. have a wide diameter approach) rather than have sharp corners, which slow traffic down. Best practice is now to make the approach to junctions and roundabouts more radial (max radius 5m), but that would prevent some lorries turning without their rear wheels mounting the curb.

If we get stuck with those rounded corners, cars can take the junction or enter the roundabout at higher speed, so cyclists become more vulnerable to all vehicles, not just lorries.

posted by arowland [126 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 18:37


I am a keen cyclist and also teach vehicle technology after a career as a large goods vehicle technician, I posses a LGV driving licence and commute by bicycle. I think the issue here is not clear cut, and the arguments for and against more complex than first meets the eye.

The technology available on modern lorries is fairly complex, in order to meet the legislation imposed on the motor industry to meet european safety and emission limits. However devices to warn drivers of objects on the nearside of the vehicle are currently conceptial and not available as standard equipment.

These proposed larger vehicles will have positively steered axles on the trailers and so will have a smaller turning circle than many current configurations. Longer vehicles could potentially mean less larger vehicles on the road. This could result in a reduction in emissions to please those campaigning for cleaner air.

I support the SMIDSY campaign but in equal measure the "people buy, trucks supply" campaign.

For the moment I am going to remain neutral on this argument!

stapes78's picture

posted by stapes78 [15 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 21:05


THis subject is too complicated for an answer here so blogged an item www.skippi-cyclist.blogspot.com
Be interested in any feedback from the manchester area !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [409 posts]
2nd September 2011 - 21:34


skippy wrote:
THis subject is too complicated for an answer here so blogged an item www.skippi-cyclist.blogspot.com
Be interested in any feedback from the manchester area !

Now i was agreeing some what with most of your blog until i got to "Should the need arise for their use then they should only be allowed on motorways and in Trading Estates or Warehousing Estates adjacent to Motorways"

Now this is where the situation changes in my eyes, Do people in England not realise that the UK motorway network stops in Perth, which is sometimes said to be "mid" Scotland, but to me its more southern Scotland, Just to give you an idea, between Perth and John O'Groats (used because most cyclist's know where that is) there is 230 miles, So what do you and everyone else who says, keep them to the motorways propose for that??

If its to come in, I, ME, want to see them allowed on at least A roads aswell

The comments about keeping them to motorways and just off them is a bit like me saying, I only want to see them coming from Scotland, but they can only go as far south as Leeds, a bit pointless aint it??

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9362 posts]
3rd September 2011 - 0:26


Well where do I start. If you really look at this brings up some very profound issues if you look at it and you have to address your views on these issues.

Firstly a longer lorry going past you will take longer to pass you especially in slower traffic so there is more chance of getting squashed and less chance of getting out off the road. It is not about approaching one of these - it is about it going past.

If the freight goes by rail then less lorries on our road. less emissions and smog and less risk of injury. Get rail to be more price competitive.

I would have thought the less lorries the better, less cars seems a perennial desire on these pages so why do we accept more lorries or larger lorries or most likely both.

It is not as if the freight industry could give two hoots about who they squash and bash up.

The comment people buy trucks supply, seems incredibly simplistic to me. Supermarkets can take a carrot grown at a farm next door to you to a central hub hundreds of miles away and then ship it back to the seller who lives the other side of you.

The whole commerce retail system generates miles and miles of needless miles. This is another waste of resources congestion and money. If these business and freight companies could be bothered to get there acts together then you could reduce freight travel quite markedily.

If you blog, complain - create a network and link and complain.

Why do you think the buy local campaign is so popular.

People buy but lorries do not have to travel so far or deliver so much if 1. we buy sensibly and 2 the laziness of the companies and to a certain extend the freight companies and the rail is stopped and they start to act more sustainably.

We are so lazy it is easy to say we buy lorries supply but I don't think, we think enough, about what we buy and the effect it has - many above comments support this view.

Buy less I would say, source local second hand stuff - good quality stuff. buy local. harass companies to be more effective in the planning of transporting goods. Start a new and second hand parts business in your local area. get more involved locally. Buy as a group. we are.

Any other suggestions welcome. You have already started doing this by linking to this articles and either or bot reading and leaving a blog.

We can't continue to run the way we do economically. socially and environmentally.

Skippy got it right when he said it was complicated

posted by Ciaran Patrick [119 posts]
3rd September 2011 - 10:48


Having experience of driving buses has taught me one thing. There are plenty of roads out there where you can't even get a single decker bus down, and these are smaller than the trucks available now. (Quite extraordinarily, the Tesco distribution store near me did not make it's entrance wide enough as can be witnessed by the numerous scratches on the kerb stones)

So the end result of bigger lorries is more disruption when they get stuck. If only we had the foresight of the Swiss and move freight onto rail. When the Gotthard base tunnel is finished no freight will transit Switzerland by road.

On the subject of stupid passing, I witness far too many drivers try to pass trucks on roundabouts as they are turning right. Trucks have been tipped onto cars this way and it's led to deaths.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [295 posts]
3rd September 2011 - 19:27


One point overlooked in this post are the pictures of the trucks at the top of the page ! So easy at cursory glance to miss the difference in length but as Ciaran points out those two metres make a lot of difference in heavy traffic where the truck driver is challenged with a multitude of problems !

The pressure to introduce these trucks is because they exist in Europe and no doubt the operators want to utilise them in YOUR backyard given the opportunity . Well motorway is what they use 99% of their journey so that is what they should be allowed ! Given that there are areas only accesible by "A routes" then they should have a pilot vehicle to guide them to their destination IF it is a situaton where these monstrosities must use single lane routes rather than multi lane / dual carriageways .

Regardless of " BUY LOCAL " campaigns the Supermarket chains will continue to see " PROFIT " in importing goods to the detriment of ALL ! Frankly if Mr Tesco or Mr Aldi could find a way of closing these markets you can bet that they would do so to " SAVE YOU MONEY "!

This comment added to my blog !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [409 posts]
4th September 2011 - 19:41


One point that was missed is many years ago when the weights went up the governemnt along with the rha wanted to build/encourage distribution hubs for trucks carrying various goods onto smaller vehicles by and large these have been implemented but there are not enough of them, the point is we will still see trucks down small roads because the customer wants their out of season fruit etc.

What does cause more concern is the increasing size of agricultural vehicles and the machines they tow ive had these things cut in too close for comfort, they should be trained to a better degree in my opinion.

andrew miners's picture

posted by andrew miners [46 posts]
6th September 2011 - 15:50


Our narrow streets (particularly in towns like the one I live in) are simply not appropriate for lorries of the size that we currently have. If anything they should be trying to reduce the size of lorries. There needs to be a drastic rethink in this country of how to get goods from A to B. And longer lorries is definitely not the answer.

whizz kid

posted by whizzkid [76 posts]
31st October 2011 - 9:25

1 Like