British Cycling reacts angrily to proposals to increase HGV speed limit

"Once Again the Department for Transport Fails to Consider Cycling"

by Sarah Barth   November 17, 2012  

Articulated lorry.jpg

British Cycling has condemned Department for Transport proposals to increase the speed limit for lorries, saying that they are fundamentally anti-cyclist and go against policy promises to improve safety for vulnerable road users - calling on members to approach their MPs directly to complain.

In a statement, British Cycling said: 

Despite Roads Minister Stephen Hammond earlier this month having reassured British Cycling that cycling is at the heart of transport policy, the consultation and impact assessment have no mention of cycling at all.

"HGVs have got wider and longer since the current limits were introduced and traffic is denser. We believe that the potential increased danger posed to cyclists should have been clearly and specifically addressed by the Department for Transport."

Martin Gibbs, Policy & Legal Affairs Director at British Cycling, said: “If the Government is serious about putting cycling at the heart of transport policy it must look specifically at the consequences policy changes like this would have for cyclists.

"The impact assessment circulated with the consultation fails to even mention cycling.

“We know that vehicle speed is the most significant determinant of road danger for cyclists and these speed limits were established for good safety reasons.

"On a single carriageway it can be difficult for an HGV to pull round someone on a bike, particularly if there is oncoming traffic.

"HGVs have got wider and longer since the current limits were introduced and traffic is denser. We believe that the potential increased danger posed to cyclists should have been clearly and specifically addressed by the Department for Transport.”

The organisation went on to say that it would be responding to the consultation raising its concerns for cycle safety, and also called upon all its members to submit their own responses or write to their MPs expressing their concerns about the policy.

Last week we reported how The Department for Transport (DfT) hadunveiled proposals to increase the speed limit for some lorries on single carriageway roads, where it says seven in ten of them break the existing speed limit.

According to the DfT, some 70 per cent of HGVs already travel above the 40mph limit on the roads in question, which is claimed to give their operators an unfair advatage over those that adhere to the speed limit.

Proposals to increase the speed limit for lorries therefore open it up to accusations of viewing it as easier to let all lorries travel faster, rather than taking steps to ensure enforcement of the existing law. the cavalier approach most drivers appear to be taking to the existing speed limit doesn't give confidence that all would adhere to a higher speed limit either.

However, the DfT says that according to the freight industry, the proposals would help stimulate economic growth through shorter journey times, reducing congestion and fuel costs and also making the roads safer by reducing the number of collisions involving vehicles overtaking HGVs.

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans has also condemned the plans, saying that letting lorries go faster is incompatible with the government’s insistence that it is committed to improving the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

13 user comments

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I submitted my response last week, we need to knock this on the head, we seem to be moving down a do what you like attitude with practically zero application of current regulation and proposals to water down those regulations. This is to my mind a political attitude of de-regulation and non enforcement across all walks of life which can only mean a poorer quality of life for the vulnerable.

onward ever onward

bikecellar's picture

posted by bikecellar [224 posts]
17th November 2012 - 22:39

5 Likes

Never mind just cyclists car drivers should also be against this so why no comment from the AA , RAC etc?

Paul W

posted by PaulVWatts [111 posts]
17th November 2012 - 22:52

8 Likes

For any vehicle to travel at over 40mph on a basic 'old standards' 7.3m wide carriageway is so deangerous that in many areas the local councils impose a blanket 40mph speed limit. Given that the width of vehicle permitted to operate without a Special Traffic Order or STGO in set categories, is 2.55m and rear view mirrors extend perhaps 0.3m beyond that on either side, that leaves a miniscule clearance when 2 HGV's requiring a combined static envelope of 6.3 metres meet on a single carriageway road factor in the dynamic envelope and even at 40mph you have the 2 vehicles closing on each other at 80mph with a high probability of overlapping trajectories - pure insanity designed in, with the DfT proposing to raise this closing speed to up to 120mph!

My response to DfT consultation is that they should REDUCE the speed limits for other vehicles to 40mph so that all motorised traffic on a typical single carriageway road is travelling at the same speed. This would vastly improve the safety for all users travelling on rural roads.

There would then be conditions where a better road geometry and width have been provided by 'improvements' and a higher speed limit of 50mph or 60mph might be permitted

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [483 posts]
17th November 2012 - 23:05

5 Likes

Correction Martin G - on a typical 7.3m single carriageway road it is not possible for an HGV to safely overtake a cyclist with oncoming traffic.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [483 posts]
17th November 2012 - 23:13

3 Likes

Quote:
the DfT says that according to the freight industry, the proposals would help stimulate economic growth through shorter journey times, reducing congestion and fuel costs and also making the roads safer by reducing the number of collisions involving vehicles overtaking HGVs.

Are these guys on crack??? Seriously, some of those people at the DoT are on some really strong drugs.

posted by GrahamH [18 posts]
17th November 2012 - 23:26

8 Likes

So increasing the speed of a lorry reduces fuel consumption, this after it has been pointed out that 20 mph in built up areas is more economic fuel wise.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [955 posts]
17th November 2012 - 23:46

4 Likes

Using the same rational, I don't know why there was such a fuss about Armstrong.

Surely the authorities should have made EPO legal because the majority of riders appeared to have been using it and were gaining an advantage over those that were not.

It's the same precedent, surely ?

Absoloute madness - the DFT are saying that most HGV's travel quicker than the current limit, so what's the point.

Does that mean that if we all drive on the motorway at 90 mph, eventually the speed limit will be raised?

Does anybody else remember a government slogan called "Speed Kills"?

I dispair.

By the way, the current weight limit for HGV's in this country is 44 tonne. Some EU countries have higher limits. There is a move to raise the UK limit as DFT see it as a way of reducing the number of vehicles on the road. Larger payload = less trucks.

Great, so if 44 tonne is not dangerous enough when travelling at 40 mph, let's make it heavier and allow it to travel faster.

Ooohh, I could crush a grape.

Madness

posted by Littlesox [89 posts]
18th November 2012 - 8:40

5 Likes

So, erm, let me get this straight.

A significant percentage of lorry traffic breaks the speed limit. So, shall we:

1. Enforce the law, or

2. Raise the speed limit. After all, it's "unfair" on the others, apparently.

I really don't know where to start with this; it's beyond self parody.

Angry of Worcester!

posted by limitingfactor [16 posts]
18th November 2012 - 18:10

9 Likes

Just because the speed limit for HGVs is increased does not mean that all lorry drivers are going to drive at the limit if the road conditions are such that a lesser speed is safer. Its not often a lorry can safely travel in built areas at 30 mph. Some of us are also cyclists and have no problem sitting behind fellow cyclists until it is safe to overtake leaving enough space so as not to cause any problems to the rider. As the government statistics state most HGVs don't abide by the 40 or 50 speed limits for the class of vehicle. I try to but this causes lots of frustration to car drivers who must overtake often dangerously. We are all road users and we are all responsible for the safety of each other. Even cyclist have that responsiblity.

english dave

posted by rockley [2 posts]
18th November 2012 - 20:48

5 Likes

rockley wrote:
As the government statistics state most HGVs don't abide by the 40 or 50 speed limits for the class of vehicle. I try to but this causes lots of frustration to car drivers who MUST overtake often dangerously.

(My highlight)
No one MUST overtake, dangerously or otherwise!
If there's a slow vehicle in front, TOUGH SHIT! You sit behind it until you can overtake safely.

Earlier today I got stuck behind a tractor (for about 10 seconds, a safe and easy overtake presented itself almost immediately) and a group of 4 cyclists riding 2 abreast and a slow lorry on a climb. I was "stuck" behind the cyclists for less than a minute but, being a cyclist myself, I knew exactly WHY they were riding two abreast, I hung back to give everyone plenty of room, I did a safe overtake within 60 seconds.

Same with the lorry, it was a difficult climb for an HGV to negotiate, I hung back and did a quick pass within a minute of getting behind him on a safe and open stretch of road.

No one HAS to overtake.
Raising the speed limit becasue it's often broken is like legalising muggings becasue they're common! Dear DfT - GET A GRIP!

posted by crazy-legs [515 posts]
18th November 2012 - 21:19

6 Likes

rockley wrote:
Just because the speed limit for HGVs is increased does not mean that all lorry drivers are going to drive at the limit if the road conditions are such that a lesser speed is safer.quote]

Asmirable comment sir, but far removed from reality in most cases (not all I grant you).

I inspect enough tachograph records to know different.

posted by Littlesox [89 posts]
18th November 2012 - 21:54

3 Likes

I must get the hang of this quote thingy !

posted by Littlesox [89 posts]
18th November 2012 - 21:56

4 Likes

The application of speed limits is a mystery to me, don't forget there was never anything scientific about the 30mph speed limit, it was plucked out of the air. Round here we have multiple speed limits on the same piece of dual carriage way even though there doesn’t appear to be any difference in the circumstances and none of the traffic engineers can explain why.

The safest speed for any piece of road is the speed that 85 percent of drivers would drive at if there was no speed limit. That means raising a speed limit could be beneficial.

Now if you use that but introduce intelligent traffic calming measures, not only will the speeds reduce but so will the accident rate. See the efforts of the traffic engineer the late Hans Monderman in spectacular accident rate reductions.

I agree with raising the speed limit for HGVs because of the accidents you get from car drivers trying to overtake, this happens when any vehicle is travelling too slowly for the conditions.

In my opinion the best way to reduce accidents is for mandatory re-education courses for all road users every so often and that includes cyclists who run red lights and travel at night with dark clothing and no lights! But let’s face it when you have so many drivers who haven’t passed their test, have no insurance or MOT, no matter what you do you will still have accidents.

I cycle as much as I am able, have a motor home and a motor cycle and am sometimes allowed to drive my wife’s MG midget and I have passed the IAM test.

Mixte Rider

posted by adriank999 [64 posts]
20th November 2012 - 12:11

8 Likes