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London Lorry ban to boost cyclist safety

Mandatory safety measures for lorries weighing more than 3.5 tonnes announced.

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) that weigh more than 3.5 tonnes will be banned from entering the capital unless they are fitted with certain safety precautions, it has been announced. The ‘Safer Lorry Zone’ is a new measure designed to make life safer for cyclists and will come into force within months.

All heavy goods vehicles over the weight threshold travelling within the M25 will be legally required to fit side guards to prevent cyclists going under the wheels and new mirrors that make it easier for the driver to see cyclists and pedestrians. Research from the Transport Research laboratory suggests 50 to 74 per cent of fatalities could be prevented by the former.

London’s thirty-three boroughs, London Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London have joined forces to make the ban possible. Fines will be issued to those who fail to comply, with CCTV and on-street checks used to enforce the new measures. An estimated 30,000 HGVs will be affected.

Johnson commented: “In my cycle vision I said no lorry should be allowed in London unless it is fitted with equipment to protect the cyclist. Neither I nor the boroughs have the power to ban lorries without safety equipment on our own. It is for that reason that I proposed to use the power I do have to levy a hefty charge on lorries without such equipment. But I’m pleased to say we can combine our powers to propose a simple and comprehensive ban.”

A number of organisations have praised the move, including the RAC. External head of affairs Pete Williams said: “The RAC welcomes any measure which helps improve safety for all road users and clearly with the growing interest in cycling there is a need for greater prominence of cycle safety.”

“Many of our members are cyclists as well as drivers and we are keen to see greater awareness of the needs and risks presented by modern road use to, potentially, vulnerable cyclists,” he added.

The Safer Lorry Zone initiative comes in the wake of 14 cyclist deaths that occurred in the capital over a period of 2 weeks towards the end of 2013.

Government figures reveal number of cyclists killed or seriously injured increased from 107 in 2011 to 118 in 2012. 53 per cent of London cyclist deaths involve a heavy-goods vehicle.

Boris Johnson sparked controversy back in November 2013 when he said “there’s no amount of traffic engineering that we invest in that is going to save people’s lives” unless cyclists adhere to the Highway Code.

Is the move unnecessarily harsh on HGVs or is this a necessary step in making life safer for all? Your thoughts appreciated.

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