Lorries/HGVs/LGVs killing cyclists: an appeal to London listeners

Last Thursday, on what felt like a warm, sunny first day of Spring, I was witness to the immediate aftermath of a collision involving a cyclist and a 32 tonne articulated lorry. It was a truly horrible, chilling sight. The lorry was stopped in the middle of the road and the crushed remains of a bicycle were clearly visible under its wheels. The cyclist, a woman in her twenties, was on a stretcher, receiving treatment from the fantastic and heroic paramedics of the London Ambulance Service. I gather than woman was was taken to the Royal London Hospital with serious leg injuries. I don’t know the extent of her injuries and whether she’ll be able to make a full recovery, but while she was desperately unlucky to be hit, she was probably very lucky to have survived.

Too many cyclists are being killed each year by lorries on the streets of London. Something has got to be done.

The Bike Show has been campaigning on this issue for years and this year I’m planning to crank up the volume. As a first step I’m encouraging everyone who can make it to come along to Critical Mass this Friday to join a mass ride that is going to show London’s cyclists making a united stand on the issue. I’m not the greatest fan of Critical Mass, but this month, with spate of deaths caused by lorries, I’m making an exception. This is a call not just from me but from a united platform of London bike campaigners and bike bloggers (including the London Cycling Campaign, Southwark Cyclists, ibikelondon, Bike Tart, Moving Target, Cycle Chic, Cyclodelic, VeLo City and Real Cycling).

If you come along on Friday, you’ll be among friends, you’ll be able to put a few faces to familiar Bike Show voices. Meet from 6.30pm on Friday 26th March on the South Bank, right under Waterloo Bridge.

To hear the appeal in full, click on the links below.

  • Karen

    I’m in 2 minds about this. I think something needs to be done about these lorries and their dangerous and aggressive drivers but please, please DO NOT antagonise the car drivers anymore in London with this mass meet. The last time there was a mass meet it was against global warming and the bike riders were very, very aggressive and I was sooo embarrassed to be associated with them!!!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/beenbrun/ Ben Brown

    If I was free I would have really loved to have gone on friday and show my support. Time for reform on HGV’s!

  • Jack

    @ Karen: If the ride passes by the three places where cyclists have been killed by lorries this year, stopping at each for a moment of rememberance, I woudn’t expect the atmosphere to be in the least bit aggressive. I cannot imagine people being anything other than sombre and respectful. In my experience of previous London memorial rides, the vast majority of passersby are very understanding.

  • http://www.cycle-systems-academy.co.uk Sean

    I’m not normally one for the mass, but I’ll be there.

  • http://eriksrailnews.com Erik Sandblom

    In Gothenburg, Sweden, trucks/lorries longer than 10 metres are forbidden except 6 am – 8 am.

  • fluffy_mike

    LCC were there, and made this video…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ2s-OHrINU

  • Alexander St Anton

    erm, 6 million people in london – tell you what get all your bike mates and carry all of what london needs to keep running on your cycles and see how long it lasts. i used to cycle to and from work and have only come close to having accidents when stupid car drivers, 99% of whom barely know the highway code, are driving like there’s is nobody else on the road. when we are taught to drive lorries we arent taught to be aggressive, but to be assertive, to put the lorry in a position so that prevents cars and cyclists being able to do something stupid. if through your own pig-headedness you fools continue to try and sneak up our left hand sides knowing its a potential blindspot (think about how many things we have to watch for in central london) then you’re asking to be hurt or worse. i have you lot do the most incredibly stupid things and it infuriates me that because half of you think you’re saving the planet you may do what you like and you are never culpable for your actions. until the government make it law people are trained properly (i.e. a bike test) to use the roads then these accidents will continue to happen. and erik your comment means nothing in london, it takes between 6am-8am just to get in and out of london, let alone loading/unloading. london is too crowded, if we’re asked to drive artics through it, then we cant be responsible for every idiot that thinks he knows best. when you’re half as skilled (or qualified) a driver as most of the HGV drivers on the road then you can the right to rant.

    • Jack

      @Alexander:

      Here are two examples of skilled and qualified HGV drivers at work last month, on the streets where I live. This one, on the 1st July at the Elephant and Castle:

      Amazingly, nobody was hurt.

      The second on 28th July just up the road at Lambeth Bridge:

      Beyond pointing out that lorry drivers are quite capable of doing stupid things, and at considerable risk to the public, my bigger point is that nobody should be driving artics through London at all. They should be banned. The city streets just can’t handle them, no matter how well trained the drivers might be – and there is plenty of evidence that they’re not well-trained enough.

      London has been a big city for a long time, only recently have we had massive lorries thundering all over the place. Artics are made for motorways, not for London’s medieval street pattern. It’s high time we went back to the days of smaller, more appropriately sized vehicles for narrow city streets. You never know, that may actually mean more jobs for the haulage industry.

  • BillG

    Alexander, I might have mis-read your post but your comments smack of blaming the victim.

    A disturbing number of lorries being driven in London are operating illegally, in an earlier post I referenced an example from a Police operation on the edge of London where 907 of the 1900 lorries checked had faults, 497 were so serious that the drivers were not allowed to continue their journey.

    When the HGV industry has put its house in order come back and rant, until then try engaging in considered debate.

  • John

    Steady, nobody is perfect. Cyclist make mistakes as do lorry drivers and car drivers, even pedestrians. Let’s not blame the lorry, the driver or the cyclist until we know the full facts. Lorry drivers do have a difficult job to do in crowded streets, and cyclist, whether they are commuting or cycle despatch riders have an equally hard time, so instead of blaming each other, why not work together. Lorry operators could get together with cyclist groups to help educate each other and spread the word. On a point re most lorries are illegal, the authoritues only stop lorries which look a bit dubious. So the number which were found faulty seems high, which it is, far too highg, but would only represent a small proportion of all lorries. The vast majority are not stopped. Remember all lorries have to be inspected every 6 weeks and the majority on the road are in good condition. Not that that helps if one hits you. But just remember, as I do when riding my cycle or motorcycle, I am the one who is going to get hurt. I will not go up on the inside of a truck at a junction, just in case the driver has not seen me. ‘Sorry mate, didn’t see you’ is little comfort, much better to assume he hasn’t seen me and keep out of the way, or get to where he cannot fail to see me or hear me. It is my safety, and, no disrespect to any other road user, I don’t know any of you well enough to trust you with my life. I ride cycles, motorcycles, drive cars and lorries, so can see it from all sides. All parties need educating, whatever happened to those road safety ‘commercials’?