Cycling UK’s lorry campaign – what we're doing and what we’ve done:

Lorries and trucks pose a serious risk to cyclists (Photo: Ed Holt)

Cycling UK’s lorry campaign – what we're doing and what we’ve done:

Cycling UK, along with other groups, has long called for action on the disproportionate threat that lorries pose to cyclists and pedestrians. Below is a summary of our historical campaigning activity, from working with hauliers to lobbying politicians.
  • In 2000, Cyclng UK (then CTC) published ‘Delivering Safer Roads’ jointly with the Road Haulage Association (RHA). It highlighted the actions being taken by local authorities to reduce the risk that lorries pose to cyclists and made recommendations about lorry networking, planning, quality partnerships, engineering, enforcement, education and awareness and data collection.
  • In 2008, Parliament passed the Crossrail Act which, thanks to our campaigning in the years beforehand, included a commitment for all construction companies working on the project (a railway across London) to train their lorry drivers in how to share the road with vulnerable road users. The induction training course was developed with the help of various groups including LCC, Cycling UK (then CTC) and RoadPeace.
  • Since 2010, Cycling UK has monitored cases in which cyclists have died or been seriously injured on the roads, including incidents involving lorries. Through our ‘Road Justice’ campaign, we are calling for high quality police investigations; better charging and prosecution decisions; and sentences that reflect the severity of an offence and discourage bad driving. Road Justice has also actively supported the victims and families of cyclists involved in collisions with lorries.
  • In 2011, Cycling UK and other groups warned the Government not to introduce dangerously long lorries on Britain’s roads and launched a letter writing campaign. 1,300 people objected to the proposals, but the Government still set up a longer lorry trial. When Road Safety Minister Mike Penning suggested to Parliament that the risks to cyclists had been assessed, Cycling UK queried the assertion and learned that, to Mr Penning’s knowledge, no cycle-specific risk assessment had, in fact, been carried out. Cycling UK maintains its objections to longer lorries, especially in the light of a report on the dangers that these vehicles undoubtedly pose to cyclists. 
  • Also in 2011, Cycling UK played a key role in shaping the Times newspaper’s 8-point ‘Cities fit for cycling’ manifesto, which was inspired when Mary Bowers, a journalist from the paper, was hit and seriously injured by a lorry – she is still only minimally conscious. The manifesto called for: lorries to be fitted with safety equipment by law, ‘Trixi mirrors’ at junctions so that lorry drivers can see cyclists on their near-side: and cyclist awareness training. Our Road Justice campaign condemned the light sentence handed to the driver involved in the collision with Mary Bowers.
  • In early 2013, Cycling UK voiced its opposition to Government proposals to raise the speed limit for goods vehicles on rural single-carriageway roads, saying this would worsen cycle safety on rural lanes.
  • Also in 2013, we contributed to the parliamentary ‘Get Britain Cycling’ inquiry and report. The report's 18 recommendations included improvements to HGV design, driver training, mutual awareness with cyclists, promotion of rail freight, restrictions on HGVs on the busiest urban streets at the busiest times and the use of public sector projects to drive fleet improvements.
  • Later that year, in September, Cycling UK welcomed a package of measures for London which included a new task force to take direct action against dangerous HGVs; calling on the EU to speed up its review on lorry design to make it easier for drivers to see cyclists and pedestrians; and a look at levying a ‘safer lorry charge’ on any HGV which is not fitted with basic safety equipment to protect cyclists. Cycling UK was disappointed when the Freight Transport Association (FTA) called the proposed safer lorry charge “unprecedented and authoritarian” and  wrote to them in protest.
  • Cyclng UK has been a member of ‘Action on Lorry Danger’ for several years. Other members include RoadPeace, Living Streets, London Cycling Campaign and British Cycling. The group meets regularly and makes recommendations to TfL, the police and hauliers. Although focused on London because the lorry/cyclist problem is so acute there, the group hopes to influence what happens in other urban areas elsewhere.
  • Over the years, in its more general road safety campaigning work, Cycling UK has constantly highlighted the contribution that lorries make to hostile road conditions for cyclists, e.g. in our response to London’s draft Cycle Safety Action Plan (2009) and in our evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee’s Inquiry into the Strategic Framework for Road Safety (2012).
    • Keep up to date with our campaigning on lorries and other issues, by subscribing to our monthly online Cycle Campaign News.


Our headline messages on goods vehicles

  • Although lorries are involved in relatively few collisions with cyclists, those that do occur are disproportionately likely to prove fatal.
  • National and local government should take steps to restrict the use of lorries on the busiest roads at the busiest times. Exemptions should be made only for specific journeys that clearly cannot be made in other ways or at other times, and should require the use of safe lorry designs, fleets and drivers.
  • National and local government, lorry manufacturers and operators should collaborate to promote safe lorry designs and equipment, notably the use of ‘direct vision’ cabs - which enable drivers to see what is around them as easily as bus drivers can - as well as sensors and cameras.
  • Enforcement processes should be strengthened to take unsafe drivers and operators off the roads.

For more, read our full campaigns briefing