On the roads, cyclists face the challenge of being the smallest, most vulnerable vehicles and are at the highest risk of an accident. On tight countryside lanes it’s the danger of sporadic, unsighted cars roaring around the corner, or a bus rumbling past. While in more urban areas, there’s the constant threat from cars, but it is lorries that are the most dangerous for cyclists. There has been an announcement from London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, however, that should see an improvement in this issue on the streets of the capital. At the end of September 2016, he made the pledge to ban thousands of lorries that have the worst visibility by 2020. We are going to briefly look into why he’s made this decision, and to see just how he’s planning on reducing the numbers on the roads.
According to statistics published by Transport for London, lorries were responsible for 58% of cyclist fatalities in the capital in 2014 and 2015, despite only accounting for 4% of motor traffic. It is these figures which are most concerning for cyclists, especially with the number of seriously injured cyclists increasing every year since 2004. It has been a result of these casualties which have seen public campaigns start up to raise awareness, and petitions have been penned and signed by thousands in an attempt to ban lorries from London’s roads during rush hour.
Khan plans to introduce The Direct Vision Standard, which will give construction trucks and other HGVs a star-based safety rating that ranges from zero to five, based on how much of the road and other users the driver can see. His proposal will see those with the lowest rating – construction trucks that have big clearance under their wheels and a high cab – prohibited from driving in the city. It is hoped that over the course of the following four years the vehicles that have score three stars and above would the only lorries left on London’s roads.
It is currently estimated that around 35,000 zero rated vehicles are on the city’s streets, and that they have been responsible for about 70% of the deaths caused by HGVs.
This is a point that the London mayor has spoken passionately about, and when discussing his proposal focused on, openly discussing his appetite for reducing this risk on the road:
“I’m not prepared to stand by and let dangerous lorries continue to cause further heartbreak and tragedy on London’s roads. The evidence is clear – HGVs have been directly involved in over half of cycling fatalities over the last two years, and we must take bold action to make our roads safer for both cyclists and pedestrians.
“I’m determined to ensure that the most dangerous zero star-rated lorries are removed from our roads completely by 2020. Our ground breaking Direct Vision Standard will be the first of its kind in the world, directly addressing the issue of lethal driver blind-spots.”
We will only know the full extent of Khan’s plan in the years to come, and it will certainly be interesting to see just how different London’s roads are in 2020. As a proposal, it certainly has the makings of something that could reduce the risk to cyclists on the road in the long run. Here at Vélo we fully welcome the move, and hope that it takes off worldwide.