posted 1 year ago

Government to Consider Banning HGVs from Cities

Cameron to consult Department of Transport to weigh up the logistics of a potential ban on HGV's that don't meet safety requirements.

After a meeting with MPs the Prime Minister is to ask officials at the Department for Transport to examine whether a ban on HGVs in city centres would be feasible. This follows six deaths of cyclists in London this year which have involved trucks. Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, who chairs the Health Select Committee, said there was a strong case for restricting when and where lorries can go in London. Mayor of London Boris Johnson previously looked at imposing a rush-hour lorry ban in London but rejected the proposal in 2013. He said any restrictions might lead to casualties being pushed outside the restricted hours.

London will soon start a "Safer Lorry Scheme" to ban HGVs and other lorries from London if they don't meet safety requirements.

David Cameron’s intervention is interesting. Interesting because motorists, pedestrians and cyclists should not be put at risk by gigantic road vehicles that have been designed so poorly that they offer their usually skilled drivers such a poor all-round view. For a country that’s supposedly in thrall to health and safety it’s amazing how HGVs get away with lethal blindspots.

Now, will David Cameron’s chat with the Minister for Transport lead to any changes? Probably not: the Minister will likely say that commercial imperatives override (sadly, sometimes literally) the interests of smaller, squishier road users. But the very fact Cameron is even talking about the issue can be considered progress.

It would be nice to imagine a DfT mandarin telling the Minister for Transport that banning HGVs from the city centre at certain times of the day is not whacky, it’s done in Paris, Dublin and other world cities.

The HGV ban is championed in the main by cycling and pedestrian groups but motorists would also benefit from such a ban. Imagine what our towns and cities would be like without monster trucks. There would be an awful lot less congestion, for a start. Allowing the longest, heaviest trucks to only move at night would free up the roads for everybody else during the day.

Supermarkets currently rely on just-in-time HGV deliveries throughout the day but that’s a business model that’s highly wasteful of resources, including the finite and valuable roadspace resource.

If, as is likely, there will no HGV ban it’s critical that the current fleet is swapped out for safer trucks as soon as possible, and that this should be enforced by legislation. Safer trucks are commercially available – they have been designed in such a way that their drivers have far more visibility than trucks currently on the road. They are more expensive than current trucks but what price human life?

Carlton Reid is the executive editor of BikeBiz.com. He drives a Nissan Note "but not very often." He has written a history book on motoring's cycling beginnings, Roads Were Not Built For Cars.

You can sign the London Cycling Campaign's petition to 'end lorry danger' here.

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