LCC challenges construction industry to adopt our Safer Urban Lorry to reduce lorry-cyclist deaths

The London Cycling Campaign has published pictures and video of its new Safer Urban Lorry design, and is calling on the construction industry to adopt similar vehicle designs to reduce the shocking number of lorry-cyclist fatalities.

The Safer Urban Lorry features a lower seating position and larger windows, so the driver can see much more of what’s happening immediately around their vehicle.

London Cycling Campaign haulage expert and former lorry driver Charlie Lloyd said:

“Our Safer Urban Lorry design is a challenge to the construction industry to use vehicles that help reduce the terrible number of people on bikes and on foot who are killed by lorries.

“The restricted view from the cab of many of today’s construction lorries means the driver often has little or no idea who or what is in their immediate vicinity, which is totally unacceptable."

Geoff Lee, whose wife Hilary was killed by a lorry while cycling in Barnet in October 2012, said: 

“The construction industry has a duty to do everything it can to prevent more people being killed by its vehicles. Perhaps if more lorries were designed like this lorry, then fewer innocent people would die on our streets.”

Half the cyclist deaths in Greater London involve lorries, even though they make up only 5% of the traffic. A large proportion of pedestrian fatalities in urban areas also involve lorries.

The most common response from lorry drivers after a fatal crash is to say they didn’t see the victim in the moments leading up to the crash.

The Safer Urban Lorry design for uses technology already found on many refuse trucks in British towns and cities.

Modern refuse lorries have a cab design that minimises the risk of running over refuse collectors working close to the vehicle, as well as providing greater protection for pedestrians and cyclists in residential streets.

The London Cycling Campaign has married this tried-and-tested cab design with a lower chassis from a construction lorry, providing equivalent load-carrying capacity. 

Current construction lorry design prioritises off-road convenience and site cost saving over safety.  The high driving position encourages drivers to go faster and closer to other traffic; it doesn't reduce danger.

The Safer Urban Lorry features can be adopted without significant risk to the driver or the lorry because:

(1) new lorries don't need such a high ground clearance because site roads are becoming better graded for all vehicles and

(2) low-entry cabs reduce falls and injuries to drivers, and encourage more cautious driving.

The London Cycling Campaign is this week organising a ‘week of action’ to highlight the wide difference in action that borough councils are taking on making their lorries.

The events are highlighting the worst councils for lorry safety, such as Tower Hamlets, while praising those such as Southwark that have signed up to LCC's Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling pledge.

Safer Urban Lorry features

Lorry graphics produced by Release the Chicken

1. Lower driving position: The seating position in our lorry is approximately 60cm lower than in a conventional construction lorry, which provides the driver with a much improved view of what’s happening around the vehicle, significantly reducing risk to anyone in the immediate area. Inside a traditionally designed lorry a cyclist in a normal riding position is invisible (see below), yet the driver of our Safer Urban Lorry can see them clearly.

2. High-visibility glass panels: The windscreen and side windows are much larger in our design than those found in today’s construction lorries, which means enhanced visibility to the front and the side, The area to the front-left of the lorry, where the vast majority of lorry-cyclist collisions occur, is clearly visible.

3. Lower bumper clearance: Reducing clearance between the underside of the lorry and the ground helps lower the height of the cab and the seating position. It also increases the chance of a cyclist being pushed to the side in the event of a collision, rather than being dragged underneath the wheels.

4. Sideguards: The sideguards work in the same way as the low bumper, increasing the likelihood of a cyclist being knocked away from the lorry in the event of a collision, rather than being dragged under its rear wheels and suffering much more serious harm.

5. Early-warning cameras: The best of today’s early-warning camera systems provide a 360-degree view around the lorry inside the cab (see below), ensuring the driver is aware of pedestrians and cyclists at the sides and rear of the lorry, even if they’re not directly visible.