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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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marriott | 12 years ago

I have seen 7 tonne trucks go down small back roads before and nearly got run off the road in my car by a 7 tonne lorry down a small back road,Ive seen haulage lorrys also overtake on motorways trying to overtake other haulage lorries but cant, then you get traffic behind being slowed down especially when they do it on a hill,I cauld go on with loads of incidents with heavy vehicles and they have not yet made it law for every lorry to be fitted with these heavy vehicles with sensors for pedestrians or cyclists and now they want longer haulage vehicles,how bout No,its bloody madness we are not america.

giff77 | 12 years ago

Am I missing something or am I just being thick? Longer lorries but not an increase in laden weight? How is that going to reduce the number of lorries on our roads?? By all means, go ahead with these vehicles, but only on motorways and major A roads that can cope with them. Keep them off the minor roads and out of towns that were originally designed to cope with horse drawn carts. Even then, there are major A roads that will be a challenge for these behemoths to navigate - the A17 springs to mind. And I am sure there are other roads that we can think of.

As cyclists we probably have nothing to worry about if they do not stray into our towns, villages and minor roads but then again how will that be policed?

don_don | 12 years ago

I believe CTC have argued that part of the problem is that many HGVs on UK roads are already running with less than a full load.

The argument for longer lorries was to reduce the number of HGVs on the roads, but this doesn't seem to stack up.

Finally, I cannot see how TEN years can be considered a trial period. After that length of time, the longer HGVs will be a de facto presence on the roads and the whole idea of a 'trial' will be conveniently forgotten..

OldRidgeback | 12 years ago

The UK road network is simply not able to cope with vehicles of this sort. Yes drivers using GPS navigation will end up down twisty country roads, just as they do at present and thse longer vehicles will be even less manouevrable than those used at present. They will pose even greater threats to all other road users as the drivers of these behemoths will be even less able to see others than at present. And the daners of foreign registered trucks, particularly those from eastern Europe, will be exacerbated. Whoever thinks this is a good idea clearly does not have a grip on road safety.

step-hent replied to OldRidgeback | 12 years ago

Generally agree with STATO - if this trial is conducted the right way, it could actually be better for everybody, with fewer journeys made, meaning less pollution and less wear on the battered roads.

The crucial safety point is not allowing these things in to high traffic, low-space areas. Seems to me that using them on motorways and big A-roads, between distribution centres, will make little difference to the safety of cyclists, but using them built-up areas could mean an increased risk. So perhaps we should simply be pushing for more control on lorries in built-up areas?

OldRidgeback wrote:

And the daners of foreign registered trucks, particularly those from eastern Europe, will be exacerbated.

OldRidgeback, just wondering, what is the issue with foreign-registered, and particularly eastern european, trucks?

OldRidgeback replied to step-hent | 12 years ago

step-hent - I get to see a lot of data in my job regarding road safety and some of it is extremely alarming. The statistics on accidents involving foreign registered trucks are of concern and it is noticeable that the highest percentage risk is from Eastern European registered vehicles, nd by quite a long way too. If you check the DfT website you can find a lot of information on the accident rate involving Eastern European trucks. This is freely accessible on the press release part of the site, you may have to use the search facility to find it. There is also data available from the Port of Dover on how many Eastern European trucks have been stopped from entering the UK because they are unroadworthy. The issue is of so much concern within the DfT that various moves are being made at present, although the list of accidents continue. If you're out riding and see an Eastern European registered truck, keep your distance.

mr-andrew | 12 years ago

I don't know why I even bother to pretend to be shocked or upset by this sort of thing any more.

captain_slog | 12 years ago

Agree with Alg. Safety aside, who apart from the haulage companies could think this was a good idea? Heavier, noisier, less manoeuvrable, more polluting - just what we don't want in overcrowded towns and peaceful villages.

It would only have merit as part of a realistic strategy for reducing the overall number of lorries on the roads.

STATO replied to captain_slog | 12 years ago
captain_slog wrote:

Heavier, noisier, less manoeuvrable, more polluting - just what we don't want in overcrowded towns and peaceful villages.

It would only have merit as part of a realistic strategy for reducing the overall number of lorries on the roads.

Heavier? Nope, same weight limit.
Noisier? dont see how, unless they are carrying more boxes of jingle-bells.
More polluting? Dont see how, not at the same weight.

Less Manouverable? Yes, THIS is the point everyone is worried about, but i cant imagine they are going to be used in small villages. The idea for bringing these in was for distribution, not delivery.

Reducing the overall number of lorries on the roads? Well yes, again, this was the reason it has been introduced. If you can fill a new larger vehicle without going over the weight limit then you ARE reducing the number of vehicles/journeys required.

I agree with peoples concern that they pose a risk but i dont see it being as significant an increase as people are claiming. 9%? CTC say, how did they work that out? maybe they should give their reasoning, if its sound then surely that will be picked up and taken on board. But at the moment all i see is everyone just running around with their hands in the air screaming 'wont someone think of the children'


alg | 12 years ago

Cycles, pedestrians, motorcycles, small cars are all at increased risk - an already calculated risk which seems to allow ministers to say its ok to kill more people. This unacceptable anywhere. Aside from cycling matters there is no argument for bigger lorries - British roads cannot cope with the huge things we have now.

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