2015’s End Lorry Danger campaign was signed by thousands and led directly to Mayor Sadiq Khan committing to his ‘Direct Vision’ lorry permit programme
Thousands of Londoners signed our petition, presented to City Hall, asking for London’s leaders to commit to three key asks, and we’ve since seen real progress on two of them. As a result of our campaigning on lorries, the freight industry has been forced to take steps to clean up, road danger has reduced in London and is now on a path towards a “Vision Zero” on serious and fatal collisions.
One of the key reasons for the danger presented by lorries is the restricted vision that most current designs offer drivers. This makes safe working very difficult even for careful drivers. In around 80% of cycling fatalities involving lorries, the cyclist was initially hit when in the area to the front left of the vehicle. It is difficult for the driver to see what is in this area from a conventional lorry. From a ‘direct vision’ lorry, this area would be clearly visible.
It is also relatively straightforward and inexpensive to retrofit lorry cabs with glass doors, these increase the likelihood of a driver seeing cyclists before turning. Yet the Safer Lorry scheme contains no requirements for freight operators to use lorries with improved direct vision – merely safety mirrors which do not solve the problem of the ‘lorry blind spot’.
London needs much stronger enforcement against operators who put profits before lives by allowing unlicensed, untrained lorry drivers, or unsafe vehicles, to operate on our roads. In its first month of enforcement the City of London Police Commercial Vehicle Unit found that, 95 of the suspect 136 lorries they stopped had to be taken off the road for non-compliance or safety reasons, including lack of insurance, driving without the appropriate licence, with an unsafe load, or not accurately recording driver hours.
40% of cycling fatalities involving lorries occur in the morning rush hour. A ban on all lorries over 7.5 tonnes between 8am and 9.30am would prevent the majority of people who cycle to work from having to share space with lorries.
Construction traffic creates the biggest risk to cyclists. Some cities such as Paris and Dublin have restrictions on large lorries at particular times, though these bans do not cover the size of lorry typically involved in cyclist injuries. Any rush hour ban in London, where 28% of the UK’s development is currently taking place, must not exempt construction traffic.
Our ask on Direct Vision lorry became one of the three commitments in our Sign for Cycling campaign, which Mayor Sadiq Khan committed to during the Sign for Cycling campaign. As a result, on 1 March 2021, London is due to get a Direct Vision Standard permit system ensuring the most dangerous lorries on the road will either come off or get safety mitigation measures. And the scheme is due to be further tightened in 2024, and LCC has won a Europe-wide mandate for lorry manufacturers to move to Direct Vision by 2027 latest.
LCC is also now involved in freight industry certification and training programmes, and campaigns for such an approach to be more widely taken up across London operators. And we work with the police on road danger operations including around lorries. And we’ve seen an increasing recognition on the need for tighter enforcement of large vehicle operators and road danger issues.
We haven’t managed to progress thus far a rush hour lorry ban. However we have managed to participate in and move forward all sorts of schemes that mitigate the risk of large vehicles on the most vulnerable. That said, too many Londoners’ lives are impacted each year still by dangerous, large vehicles. So the campaign continues…
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