Advice for cyclists to stay safer around lorries
- By London Cycling Campaign on at 11:54am 23 November 2012
- Posted in:
- Tagged with: hgvs, lorries, road danger
How to stay safe
1. Avoid cycling in the front-left lorry risk zone
Beware cycling into the lorry risk zone, especially near junctions. If a lorry passes you and puts you in its risk zone, brake sharply to drop behind.
2. Wide gaps between lorry and kerb aren't safe
Lorries often move over to the right of their lane before turning left. Stay out of the gap to their left. The wider the gap the more likely it is that the lorry is turning left. The more inviting it looks the more dangerous it is.
3. Take care if you’ve stopped in front of a lorry
If you’ve stopped in front of a lorry at a junction, position yourself well forward of the cab and to the centre, so the driver can easily see you.
Why is this good advice?
Although collisions are rare, lorries present the greatest risk to life for cyclists in Greater London, accounting for half the fatalities, despite being only 5% of motor traffic.
Most crashes happen at junctions when lorries turn left across the path of a cyclist that the driver hasn’t seen, and the most dangerous place to cycle is in the lorry risk zone indicated above.
The location of the red zone in our diagram is based on analysis of hundreds of lorry-cyclist crashes in the UK and Europe. This evidence shows where collisions between cyclists and lorries are most likely to happen.
Am I safe behind a lorry?
The diagram doesn’t imply there is zero risk anywhere else around the lorry, but that the vast majority of crashes take place in that frontal red zone — the redder the area in our diagram, the more risk to the cyclist.
Even when a cyclist has been run over by the rear wheels of a lorry, most frequently this has happened after they’ve been knocked off by the front of the lorry.
Behind a lorry is often the safest place to be; only overtake if you're sure it's safe.
What type of lorries are most dangerous?
The lorries most often involved in crashes are four-axle construction lorries (like the one pictured above), often tipper or concrete trucks.
These vehicles are big but surprisingly fast and manoeuvrable for their size. They offer little or no side protection for cyclists or pedestrians, and most older lorries aren’t fitted with a full set of safety mirrors, nor sensors or cameras.
Who's to blame for crashes?
There’s considerable evidence that many fatalities are not caused by cyclists undertaking lorries, but by drivers manoeuvring their lorry into a position that puts the cyclist at risk.
It’s essential cyclists know how to not put themselves at risk unnecessarily and also to know how to stay out of danger when lorry drivers put them in a dangerous position.
We advocate the best training for drivers and the best-equipped lorries to reduce road danger.