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CTC warns of danger to cyclists as minister authorises trial of longer lorries

DfT admits there is a safety issue... but apears slow to move on question of sensors and other safety features

CTC has urged the government to undertake a “proper assessment” of the hazards posed to other road users as well as road infrastructure after Transport Minister Mike Penning confirmed plans for a ten-year trial of longer lorries, despite the Department for Transport (DfT) admitting they posed a greater risk to vulnerable road users.

More than 1,300 CTC members wrote to their MPs to oppose the trial, which the national cyclists’ organisation says could result in 1,800 larger lorries on the country’s roads in the first year alone.

During his written statement to the House of Commons confirming the trial, Mr Penning said that areas meriting “additional investigation” included “the effectiveness of additional vision/sensor/safety systems fitted to improve detection of vulnerable road users.”

But as CTC points out, he has to date resisted efforts to introduce safety systems of that nature, while the DfT has yet to take any action following a coroner’s report earlier this year that asked it “to consider a review of the risks to cyclists from heavy goods vehicles which are not fitted with proximity sensors and what action can be taken to encourage fitting of such sensors.”

As recently reported on, the issue is also receiving attention at European level, with campaigners including the family of Eilidh Cairns, killed by a lorry while cycling in London in 2009, urging the European Commission to move forward on proposals backed by MEPs earlier this year.

CTC’s Campaigns Director Roger Geffen commented: “If the Minister was serious about cycle safety he wouldn’t allow this trial to go ahead but would ensure that the existing lorry fleet - which already poses a considerable threat to cycle safety - is equipped and their drivers sufficiently trained to share roads with cyclists’ safely. The Department must ensure that the trial is not simply the thin end of the wedge: we need a proper assessment of the risks to road users and road infrastructure.”

In a statement, CTC said that as a result of its campaign, “the initial trial is smaller than the DfT might have conducted. However, the cyclists’ organisation remains deeply concerned that many more longer trailers will be permitted onto the roads in subsequent years if the trial is widened.”

It added that it continues to believe that longer lorries may “represent a significant threat to cyclists’ safety,” adding that the risk arising in certain slow manoeuvres by lorries could increase by as much as 9 per cent.

According to CTC, between 2005 and 2009, such manoeuvres accounted for four in ten of the incidents involving articulated lorries and cyclists in which the bike rider was killed.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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