A ban on HGVs in cities during peak hours is not the answer when it comes to protecting cyclists, the Freight Transport Association has said.
Although the organisation concedes that more needs to be done to improve cycling safety, it says that the idea, already in place in cities like Paris and Dublin, is unworkable, and would affect commerce and supply in towns and cities.
Christopher Snelling, FTA’s Head of Urban Logistics Policy said: “FTA believes that the idea of banning HGVs from a city like London in peak hours is naive and not commercially viable. “It would mean massive economic implications for the shops, businesses and residents of the capital.
“It would also create new safety issues as one lorry is replaced by about 8 – not to mention the increased congestion and air pollution that would result.
“Paris only restricts the largest trucks, above about 28 tonnes gross weight. Very few trucks of this size operate on London’s roads because there is already a long-standing ban on articulated vehicles in the central area.”
He added that the ban would just lead to a deluge effect of lorries just before and after the hours of the ban, and said that the supply of fresh and baked goods to cities would be affected at exactly the time shops and bakeries would need them, and more crucially medical and hospitality supplies would be affected too.
He said: “Paris also exempts a long list of vehicles, including all construction traffic – the vehicles that are most represented in recent cycling fatalities. The Dublin scheme is not a ban at all, as any vehicle of any size can move about and deliver or collect anything anywhere at any time, as long as they pay a €10 fee.”
“It is too simplistic to cite Paris and Dublin as examples of where HGV bans work as in practice very few vehicles are denied access to the city centres that need to be there.
“The reality is that the city authorities recognise that goods deliveries are essential to the efficient functioning of the city and permit them round-the-clock access.”
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson told BBC London 94.9 he was not convinced by the argument for a peak hours ban this week, but admitted there needed to be a "much bigger conversation about HGVs".
He said imposing a peak-time ban risked damaging London companies and creating a "serious influx as soon as the ban is over", and added that he was "by no means satisfied" the idea was the solution, although he said “we are not dismissing any suggestion."
But Chris Boardman, British Cycling's policy adviser, is pushing for the idea to be tested.
In an open letter to the mayor he said he would be breaking a promise not to look at ways of banning HGVs.
He said: "When I rode alongside you to help you launch your vision for cycling in March this year, you made a verbal promise to look at the successful experiences of Paris and many other cities in restricting the movements of heavy vehicles during peak hours.
"London has an opportunity to emulate and surpass Paris and to lead the way for the other ambitious cycling cities across Britain.
"Let's not waste this opportunity to do something now."
The FTA is now lobbying against the idea, with Snelling saying that other avenues should be explored first.
He said: “One death is too many and we must all do more to improve safety – cyclists, public authorities, public transport and HGV drivers and operators included.
“But banning HGVs is a simplistic response with massive economic and transport impacts and an un-quantified safety case. Any measures taken should be intelligent, targeted and evidence based if we are to improve safety whilst allowing our cities to function.”
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.