Cyclists and lorries don’t mix: this week’s evidence

Not much text needed to accompany these photographs taken yesterday on the streets of Southwark and posted on the SE1 Forum.

Exhibit A:
Lorry and cyclist collide on Borough High Street, junction of Dover Street. Keltbray services the Shard construction site and one of its lorries killed a London cyclist back in March, just a few yards from this spot. Note the lovely ‘guard rails’ that trapped the cyclist on her left. Photo credit: Phoney.

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Exhibit B: The blue paint is not yet dry on Mayor’s new cycle superhighway CS7 and it’s being used as a chill out zone for articulated lorries on Southwark Bridge Road. Photo credit: ssimps01.

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Thanks to those who took these pictures and best wishes to the young woman who was hit on Borough High Street – though bones were broken looks to me like it could have been so much worse.

If London is going to be a cycling city we’ll need to do much more about the lorry problem. For what it’s worth, here is my 5 point plan:

1. Lorry bans. A ban of all lorry traffic in the peak rush hour periods (made up for by a relaxation of the night time ban). Key arterial routes used by cyclists to be permanently closed to lorries. TfL to undertaken an exercise to ‘lorry proof’ the London Cycle Network.

2. Higher safety standards.
All public sector bodies to require their haulage contractors and subcontractors to meet a higher level of driver training and safety standards than is required by the law. All private sector property developers must require their contractors to do the same – these requirements to built into government contracts and development consents.

3. Better training, better pay for drivers.
The government and the haulage industry to work together to make lorry driving a high skill, high pay profession. In the future, lorry drivers should be more like airline pilots. The level of training should reflect the level of danger their vehicles pose to the general public and their pay should reflect this. Piece-rate driver contracts to be banned (drivers should be paid a salary or daily rate, not payment per load).

4. Ban the cowboys. New powers for the Mayor to suspend lorries of a particular company if it appears that its fleet is posing a risk to Londoners.

5. Cycle training. More money and more incentives for cyclists to undertake one-to-one cycle training. Perhaps going on a cycle training course should increase the size of the tax-break available under the Cycle-to-Work scheme. Maybe cycle training could be offered free with every purchase of a new bike.

I’ve no doubt this could be expanded into a ten or twenty point plan, so please add your ideas in the comments.

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  • chris zanf

    Cyclists should definite undergo (more) training, awareness training of what other road users can actually see.

    There is a youtube video (cant link as its blocked at work) that shows the visibility of a cyclist from a lorry cab, when they pass on either side. The lack of visibility lorry drivers have is heart stopping and people need to be fully aware of that.

    With that in mind, driving such a large vehicle with such a catastrophic lack of visibility, should have training / licensing requirements befitting such a machine.

  • BillG

    A simple solution would be to bring back the position of Driver’s Mate.
    They can be an extra pair of eyes in the cab when driving thru’ the City.
    As a bonus they can also handle the paperwork, which HGV drivers find so fascinating as they negotiate the roundabout beneath the Bow Fly-over.

  • http://lazyriderbicycleblog.blogspot.com/ ian…

    Absolutely sickening to see & hope that the cyclist recovers okay.

    I always try to take the lane at a junction to avoid getting clonked, and am wondering how this incident happened – cyclist sat on the inside of the junction, or cyclist riding up the inside past the lorry?

    Re: the photos of the truckstops (ahem, cyclelanes), doesn’t this just serve to illustrate whats wrong with the things?

    The ‘side of the road’ is just that. If the lanes were segregated (and I’m sure David Hembrow will chip in if he reads your blog!), not that I’m advocating c/lanes painted or otherwise, the parking problem would be avoided :>/

  • http://www.alifeinwales.co.uk Andrew

    As a truck driver I’m ashamed to say that I work for one of companies that is pictured parked in the bike lane(3rd pic). In his defence when he/I have to make a delivery and there is no parking on either side of the road, what can we possibly do? I don’t condone illegal parking, but if I refuse to deliver to a retailer I’d be out of a job.
    Regarding visibility of LGV vehicles, the total blame cannot be aimed at the driver. As a professional driver for over 20 years I have currently passed 5 different forms of driving licence but anyone can go and buy a bicycle and with no training what so ever pull up alongside a lorry and wonder why they’ve been knocked off or worse. For the record I commute 30 miles a day by bike and treat all drivers like as idiots.

  • Ian Perry

    One way to reduce the numbers of lorries and vans on our streets is to introduce freight consolidation. There are already examples, e.g. in Freiburg, Germany and a small scheme operates successfully in Bristol.

    Instead of many vehicles making small drops throughout the day to a shop (or office), the deliveries go to a consolidation centre, and from there a single, vehicle will deliver to an address (shop or office).

    This will reduce the total number of delivery vehicles on our roads, and reduce the number of inefficient near empty good vehicles driving around – it’s not just cars that are under occupied.

    The same principal could also be applied to residential areas.

  • Jack

    @ Andrew: My educated guess, as a local resident, is that these lorries were not making deliveries where they were stopped but just killing time on their way to or from Smithfield Meat Market. Large artics going to Smithfield from the continent or from the south of London do tend to favour Southwark Bridge (the one and only London bridge that has some ‘hard’ infrastructure for cyclists, though for the past two years or so it’s been closed more often than open due to roadworks).

    On your other point, it’s quite right that the largest and most dangerous vehicles should be driven with more care and responsibility. The burden is on the haulage industry to reduce harm not on cyclists to take avoiding action. This is particularly the case for densely populated urban areas where the roads are narrow and there are lots of people moving around on foot or by bike. Hence my argument for a high skill / high pay lorry driving profession.

    @Ian: Freight consolidation sounds like a grand idea though my guess is that it will only happen if there are new taxes introduced on underutilised delivery vehicles, or something along those lines. How did the schemes in Freiburg and Bristol come about?

  • si

    glad she is ok,

    you do see cyclist getting it really stupid positions in relation to wagon every day – i mean someone seem to have no respect for 32t and 8 wheels…

    - i have driven a wagon in central london in the past and i cycle there everyday now… it is quite hard to drive a wagon in the city… and some cyclists make it very hard

  • BillG

    News from Epping Forest:
    http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/8255530.EPPING_FOREST__Nearly_Half_of_lorries_stopped_by_police_have_defects/
    The district borders North East London and many of these vehicles, especialy those on the M11, would have been headed for Central London.
    907 of 1900 lorries checked had faults, 497 were so serious that the drivers were not allowed to continue their journey.

  • Ric

    There’s no excuse for squeezing alongside a stationary HGV (including buses) waiting at a red light. Just don’t do it. Assume the drivers are dumb and haven’t seen you.

    One trap commuting cyclists fall into is that because journey times are more predictable than most other forms transport it tempts them to a kind of briksmanship: “it take me 35 minutes to ride to work, so I don’t need to leave home until 35 or so minutes before I’m due in work.” London roads punish those in a hurry.

  • http://www.impacthgv.co.uk hgv lessons

    Loved the previous comment.

  • Bill G

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-12743821
    To quote from the article:
    “Nearly half (46%) of fatal and serious crashes on the M25 in Essex in the past three years involved drivers who had driven too long or had been drinking, police said.”
    Motorways do not affect cyclists but these lorries have to leave them at some point to join local roads to complete their deliveries.
    Thankfully the Essex police are taking the problem seriously, can the same be said for the Met?

  • Fari

    It’s disgusting. The Shard has caused such an influx of lorries, the area makes me ill. They control the gates at the end of Balls Pond Road and have often refused to open for me on my bike forcing me to push the bike alongside pedestrians on cramped pavements. The death outside the Rose Pub not so long ago I believe was due to one of their cement-pouring nights. Aside from these horrors I hate that building aesthetically also! It is a mean and unforgiving design created to alienate rather than accommodate human needs. I cannot believe my own and everyone else’s apathy, we are like sheep when it comes to accepting the shape of the world around us! As if someone else is responsible for the world we live in!
    Regarding the plan, removal of those barriers should be a must. Since they have gone from Oxford Circus the entire crossing has a far more human and accessible feel.
    @bill G the MET are the only public service that refuse to function. No other public service is as bad, they do nothing at all except what they deem worthy of doing, there is no guarantee they will look into a case you take to them, don’t believe me though I’ve tried, have a go yourself and go make a report.

  • Kevin

    I’ve really never got to grips with this ongoing battle between cyclists and lorry drivers. I’m a keen cyclists and cycle into work along busy city arterial roads and I’m afraid to say that, yep, it’s potentially dangerous – cycle tracks if they exist at all (very rare) disappear suddenly, have cars parked on them, and often enough are in such a state that it’s preferable to battle the traffic on their smooth roads. But is it really lorry drivers who are to blame for cyclist death and injury caused by turning at junctions? Surely the onus is on the cyclist to ride defensively? Cycling defensively has been a mantra that I’ve been familiar with since the 1970s. Don’t cycle up the inside of a lorry, ever, it’s as simple as that; they can’t see you and all the big mirrors, driver’s mates and proximity detectors in the world are not going to be as certain to protect you the cyclist as just paying attention to what’s around you.
    You’re a cyclist, you’re vulnerable, start taking care of yourself and stop shifting blame.

  • Jack

    @Kevin – The question is whether lorries are simply too large and too dangerous to be allowed on the roads of densely populated urban areas. And whether companies cutting costs and drivers hurrying because they’re paid on piece-rates are cutting corners with safety, at the expense of vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists. I think a ban on large lorries in central London will come, it’s just a matter of when.

  • Kevin

    @Jack: “I think a ban on large lorries in central London will come, it’s just a matter of when.”
    Do you? That’s not my understanding of how capitalism works. ;-)

  • Kevin

    @Fari – I have to disagree with your opinion of The Shard. If it ends up looking anything like the marketing material it will be absolutely beautiful.