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Commercial Fleet contributing author Tim Campbell recently wrote a very compelling piece addressing the topic of banning HGVs from city centres in order to protect cyclists. As you know, HGV bans are just one of the solutions being offered by those trying to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities resulting from accidents between cyclists and lorries of all types. However, as Campbell suggests, a total HGV ban may be akin to trying to crack a walnut with a sledgehammer. He believes a better solution is to first look at some of the HGV lessons of the past.

As a case in point, he cites a similar call to ban lorries from London in the 80s and 90s due to pollution concerns. Back then, HGVs were the scourge of our cities because of their emissions. Those who wanted to clean up cities like London thought the best way to do it would be to forbid hauliers from bringing their HGVs into the cities. Thank goodness the idea was eventually rejected.

Instead of an outright ban, plans were put in place to improve the manufacture and maintenance of commercial vehicles over time. Those solutions have worked. As Campbell explains, the HGVs operating in our cities today are often cleaner than those running outside of the cities. London air is much better today than it was in the 80s and 90s while the capital is cleaner and greener than it has ever been.

HGVs Not the Enemy

Campbell acknowledged that HGVs and cyclists do run into problems in their ongoing attempts to share the road. Nevertheless, he also noted that the more than 400 serious injuries sustained by London’s cyclists last year only involved lorries a small percentage of the time. He noted that cyclists are three times more likely to be injured by buses. The statistics show that HGVs are not the enemy they are made out to be by the UK media. There is room for improvement, but the situation is not so dire as to necessitate an all-out ban.

If an HGV ban were put in effect, can you imagine the probable results? Right from the start the number of vans on city streets would explode, increasing congestion and giving more opportunities for accidents between commercial vehicles and cyclists. There is no way around it. More vans would be required to carry the same amount of cargo. The more traffic on the roads, the greater the number of accidents.

We agree that it is better to step back and learn some of the HGV lessons of the past rather than plunging headlong into a ridiculous ban. There are other ways to help cyclists and HGVs share the roads more effectively without such drastic action. Just as we solved the pollution problem of the 80s and 90s, we can address the road-sharing issue of the 2010s. Learning and applying the HGV lessons of the past it the right way to go.


  1. Commercial Fleet – https://www.commercialfleet.org/news/truck-news/2015/08/24/is-banning-trucks-in-cities-using-a-sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut


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