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Caroline Pidgeon, running for London mayor as a liberal Democrat, has proposed banning HGV traffic in Central London during rush hour. She believes her plan is the best way to prevent loss of life by making streets in the city centre more safe for cyclists. Despite her best intentions, Pidgeon’s solution is not viable.

The plan put forth by Pidgeon calls for an HGV driving ban in Central London from 7am until 10am and then again from 4pm to 7pm. It would also call for the establishment of numerous delivery hubs outside the city centre similar to that which was employed during the 2012 Olympic Games. Pidgeon believes that her plan will not only reduce cyclist fatalities but that it will also cut down on air pollution as well.

It is a very idealistic plan, yet one that is both impractical and damaging to the logistics industry. Lorries are already barred from many parts of the city centre during overnight and weekend hours in order to prevent them from disturbing local residents. Taking another six hours away from logistics companies is simply not reasonable. It would not cut air pollution nor would it make cyclists any safer.

In order to make Pidgeon’s plan work, companies would have to send more HGVs into the city between the hours of 10am and 3pm. Given that it is just a five-hour window, the number of lorries travelling through Central London would have to increase significantly to make up for lost time. No noticeable reduction in air pollution would take place, and cyclists would still be exposed to cars as well as an increased number of cargo vans deployed to take the place of smaller lorries.

Statistics Do Not Backup the Plan

Every time someone comes up with a plan to protect cyclists in London traffic, HGVs are the primary target. But statistics do not back up the alleged necessity of these plans. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the data show that HGVs are not as big a problem as critics would have the general public believe.

RoSPA data from 2014 shows that only 20% of cycling fatalities reported in London that year involved accidents with HGVs. Furthermore, the most common vehicle involved in collisions with cyclists is the passenger car. More cyclists are seriously injured by cars and taxis than any other kinds of vehicles on the roads. Yet when was the last time a politician or cycling advocate proposed eliminating cars from Central London during rush hour?

The reality is that there is no perfect solution that will eliminate all accidents between cyclists and motor vehicles. It is simply not possible unless all motor vehicles are banned. And since that will never happen, a little bit of common sense needs to prevail. At some point, we need to stop blaming HGVs for all of the problems on London streets. Banning HGV driving in London is impractical, short-sighted, and utterly foolish.

Sources:

Evening Standard – https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/lib-dem-mayoral-candidate-demands-rushhour-lorry-ban-in-central-london-a3186871.html

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