The London Cycling Campaign has designed a ‘Safer Urban Lorry’ and is urging the construction industry to adopt similar designs for vehicles to reduce the number of cyclists killed or injured following collisions with HGVs. The design sees the driver sit lower in the cab, which itself has more glass to enable them to see more of what is going on around the vehicle.
Lorries account for 5 per cent of the capital’s traffic, but are involved in around half of cyclist fatalities, with construction vehicles proving particularly dangerous, so features such as better driver visibility is an obvious starting point for attempts to improve safety.
They are also involved in a significant number of pedestrian injuries and deaths, and LCC says that the most common explanation given by a driver after an incident is that they simply did not see the victim in the moments before it happened.
Earlier this year, a report from the Transport Research Laboratory commissioned by Transport for London highlighted a number of safety concerns surrounding constuction lorries operating in the city.
LCC, which is continuing to run its Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling campaign, has produced a video showing the design, based on that of refuse lorries already deployed on the streets of London and other cities throughout Britain.
LCC’s haulage expert Charlie Lloyd, himself a former lorry driver, said: “Our Safer Urban Lorry design is a challenge to the construction industry to use vehicles that help reduce the terrible number of people on bikes and on foot who are killed by lorries.
“The restricted view from the cab of many of today’s construction lorries means the driver often has little or no idea who or what is in their immediate vicinity, which is totally unacceptable.”
Geoff Lee, who lost his wife Hilary when she was killed by a lorry while cycling in Barnet last October, added: “The construction industry has a duty to do everything it can to prevent more people being killed by its vehicles. Perhaps if more lorries were designed like this lorry, then fewer innocent people would die on our streets.”
LCC says that “Current construction lorry design prioritises off-road convenience and site cost saving over safety. The high driving position encourages drivers to go faster and closer to other traffic; it doesn't reduce danger.
“The Safer Urban Lorry features can be adopted without significant risk to the driver or the lorry because (1) new lorries don't need such a high ground clearance because site roads are becoming better graded for all vehicles and (2) low-entry cabs reduce falls and injuries to drivers, and encourage more cautious driving.”
It has also summarised the design features of its Safer Urban Lorries as follows:
1. Lower driving position: The seating position in our lorry is approximately 60cm lower than in a conventional construction lorry, which provides the driver with a much improved view of what’s happening around the vehicle, significantly reducing risk to anyone in the immediate area. Inside a traditionally designed lorry a cyclist in a normal riding position is invisible, yet the driver of our Safer Urban Lorry can see them clearly. [Pictures 3 & 4]
2. High-visibility glass panels: The windscreen and side windows are much larger in our design than those found in today’s construction lorries, which means enhanced visibility to the front and the side, The area to the front-left of the lorry, where the vast majority of lorry-cyclist collisions occur, is clearly visible. [Picture 6]
3. Lower bumper clearance: Reducing clearance between the underside of the lorry and the ground helps lower the height of the cab and the seating position. It also increases the chance of a cyclist being pushed to the side in the event of a collision, rather than being dragged underneath the wheels. [Picture 7]
4. Sideguards: The sideguards work in the same way as the low bumper, increasing the likelihood of a cyclist being knocked away from the lorry in the event of a collision, rather than being dragged under its rear wheels and suffering much more serious harm. [Picture 8]
5. Early-warning cameras: The best of today’s early-warning camera systems provide a 360-degree view around the lorry, ensuring the driver is aware of pedestrians and cyclists at the sides and rear of the lorry, even if they’re not directly visible. [Picture 2a - interior of cab; Picture 9 - closeup of exterior camera]
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.