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London Cycling Commissioner brands rush hour lorry ban debate a ‘distraction’

Andrew Gilligan says more protected bike routes, better lorry design and crackdowns on dangerous operators would be more effective

London’s Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, has branded calls for a rush hour lorry ban a “distraction” that won’t save as many lives as protected bike lanes and safer lorries.

Responding to a 13,000-strong petition handed to City Hall on Wednesday, and following a unanimous London Assembly vote in favour of a rush hour lorry ban this month, Gilligan told banning lorries during rush hour may risk more pedestrian lives than the cyclists it could save, as well as causing an enormous backlash, and he says it is unlikely to happen.

This year seven of the eight cyclists killed in London died following lorry collisions. However, Gilligan said of 42 cyclists killed in the capital between 2012-14 only three deaths involved a lorry in the morning rush hour.

13,000-signature End Lorry Danger petition delivered to London's City Hall

The cycling commissioner told he feels a lorry ban would not be the best way to protect cyclists.

“I think it’s a distraction,” he said.

“I think the answer’s more segregated superhighways, better junctions, I think it’s the kinds of things we’re doing with lorries already to make them safer than they are now. It’s direct vision lorries - that’s going to be the next stage in the safer lorries scheme to mandate that - and it’s general freight management activities.”

Gilligan says other tactics would include cracking down on dangerous operators, and consolidating freight movements so fewer lorries enter the city centre.

He said: “I think there’s huge scope for last mile services, for lorries to deliver to depots on the edges of the centre and for all the companies’ deliveries to be consolidated into one electric van.”

“At the moment you have vast numbers of lorries making trips for a couple of cartons of photocopying here, and a couple more there, and that’s pretty silly.”

Where internet shopping has driven up the numbers of lorries delivering shopping to offices these could go to fulfilment centres at stations, similar to ones already used by online shopping giants such as Amazon.

He added a lorry ban would involve an enormous fight that Transport for London could eventually lose, both with businesses, and residents whose sleep would be affected if operators started delivering at night.

He said: “Even if we won… we might not save a single life because we might not get small reduction in the number of cyclists being killed but you might get a bigger increase in the number of non-cyclists being killed.”

More older people tend to walk after the morning rush hour, so it is sometimes argued they are more vulnerable to an influx of large vehicles at that time.

As well as calls from 13,000 signatories and the London Assembly, road safety campaign group, Stop Killing Cyclists, included a rush hour tipper truck ban among the manifesto pledges it is asking of Mayoral candidates ahead of the London elections in May, which all five candidates answered either “yes”, or “maybe” in the case of Sadiq Khan (Lab) and Zac Goldsmith (Con).


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