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London mayor Sadiq Khan plans to ban unsafe lorries from capital's roads

London Cycling Campaign welcomes proposals – but haulage trade body says they're “unfair”...

Tens of thousands of lorries could be banned from London’s roads due to new rules proposed by Mayor Sadiq Khan to make the capital’s streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians and encourage operators to switch to ‘direct vision’ lorries.

The Labour politician plans to bring in a system that would rate lorries from zero to five stars based on how much visibility the driver has from the vehicle’s cab.

Only those rated three stars and above would be permitted to operate in the city by 2024, although in the shorter term, up to 35,000 lorries could be banned by 2020 – although it is hoped many will be upgraded to meet the tougher safety standards.

Although lorries account for just 4 per cent of the total mileage driven in London, they account for a hugely disproportionate percentage of casualties among vulnerable road users.

In the past two years, HGVs were involved in 58 per cent of cyclist deaths in London, and in 23 per cent of pedestrian fatalities.

Khan said the scheme was the first of its kind in the world and would result in many lorries being upgraded before the ban came into place.

“I’m not prepared to stand by and let dangerous lorries continue to cause further heartbreak and tragedy on London’s roads,” said Khan.

“The evidence is clear: HGVs have been directly involved in over half of cycling fatalities over the last two years, and we must take bold action to make our roads safer for both cyclists and pedestrians.

“I’m determined to ensure the most dangerous zero-star rated lorries are removed from our roads completely by 2020.”

The move has been applauded by the London Cycling Campaign, which has long campaigned for safer lorries that allow drivers a much greater field of vision to minimise blind spots.

Its senior policy and development officer, Tom Bogdanowicz, commented: “Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers and operators of HGVs all stand to gain if modern designs with minimal blind spots become the norm for on-street use – no one wants fatalities and life-changing injuries to continue to happen.” 

The Road Haulage Association, however, said the proposals are “unfair” and that they demonise lorries.

Its chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Demonising lorries, which keep the economy and shops going, is unfair. 

“Lorries, including construction vehicles, play a vital part in the economic life of London. Without them the capital’s businesses would grind to a standstill.

“We want to bring balance to the argument. We’re not convinced these measures are the solution. Improved visibility isn’t going to sort the problem alone,” he added.

Mr Khan’s announcement comes in a week in which the Department for Transport has been criticised for a ‘Hang Back’ video released under its Think! road safety campaign that many have interpreted as suggesting that cyclists killed or seriously injured in a collision with a lorry are to blame.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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