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Over the past several weeks, there been a number high-profile accidents between cyclists and HGVs in London. Unfortunately, some of them have been fatal. The unfortunate deaths have led British Cycling’s Chris Boardman to urge London to ban HGVs during rush-hour traffic.

Boardman’s letter to Mayor Boris Johnson cites a number of things, including Johnson’s previous commitment to look into the safety records of major European cities that already ban HGV driving during peak traffic times. Boardman believes London has a great opportunity to join the likes of Paris and other like-minded cities in reducing the number accidents between cyclists and HGVs.

That said, is an outright ban of HGVs driving during rush hour a wise idea? Perhaps it is something to look at, but it is certainly not a solution that will eliminate tragic accidents. Officer Glyn Jones of the Met Police said that both drivers and cyclists need to do their parts to avoid accidents.

Earlier this week the Met Police set up at several locations to stop both cyclists and HGV drivers who appeared not to be following basic safety standards. The police chose three of London’s busiest junctions, including one that was the site of a recent cyclist death.

According to LBC 97.3, approximately 20 HGVs were stopped and found to be guilty of approximately 60 violations. Officers were stopping cyclists at a rate of one per minute as well. Although guilty cyclists were not fined, they were warned to start wearing helmets, don high visibility clothing, make sure their bicycles had the proper lights, refrain from using headphones, and obey all traffic laws.

Another Ban Would Hurt Business

Although there has yet to be an official response from the haulage and transport industries regarding Boardman’s letter to Mayor Johnson, it would be no surprise if any future response were one of resistance. HGV driving is already banned during the overnight hours; taking another four or six hours away from drivers will make it extremely difficult to manage a full delivery schedule.

Especially hard hit would be construction vehicles used to deliver materials and remove waste. Without addressing the overnight ban, an additional rush-hour ban would make it nearly impossible for companies operating these vehicles to meet customer needs.

Officer Jones told LBC 97.3 that while cyclists certainly have the legal right to being along the left side of an HGV driving in London, they might want to back off when approaching a junction just in case the lorry driver is making a turn. Maybe traffic law needs to be amended to force cyclists to hold back when approaching a junction. The amount of time it would add to their journey would be minimal.

HGV driving in London is by no means the easiest and safest thing to do. The industry is open to discussing practical ways to reduce the number of accidents, but solutions that address only the largest vehicles while ignoring cyclists is not the way to go.


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