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Lorries: How to stay Safe

Although collisions are rare, lorries present the greatest risk to life for cyclists in London. What can be done and what can you do to stay safe?


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Although collisions are rare, it’s important to take the risk of lorries seriously. Here’s what you can do to minimise the risk of collisions.


Avoid cycling in the front-left lorry risk zone

Most serious crashes happen at junctions when a lorry is turning left and the driver has not spotted the cyclist stopped at the lights or on the inside. So beware of cycling into the lorry risk zone shown in the picture below, especially at junctions. The location of the red zone in our diagram is based on analysis of hundreds of lorry-cyclist crashes in the UK and Europe and shows where collisions between cyclists and lorries are most likely to happen — the redder the area, the more risk to the person on the bike.


If a lorry driver passes you and puts you in the lorry risk zone, brake sharply to drop behind.

Wide gaps between a lorry and the kerb aren’t safe

Lorries often move over to the right of their lane before turning left. This is because they need the extra space in order to turn. So stay out of the gap to their left, even if it looks like you can pass them safely. In some cases a large lorry will move fully out into the right-hand lane in order to then turn left.

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 in the centre of the lane and well in front of the cab so the driver can easily see you. If possible look behind you and make eye contact with the driver to make sure they know you are there.

Am I safe behind a lorry?

Generally, yes. 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. Even when a cyclist has been run over by the rear wheels of a lorry, most often 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, especially at traffic lights and junctions when a driver may not see you passing. If you do overtake, only do so when you are sure that it is safe to do so and the driver can see you.

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, offer little or no side protection for cyclists or pedestrians and most older lorries aren’t fitted with motion sensors or cameras. However you should be wary of all kinds of lorries.

Seek additional help

If you’re struggling to build confidence on busy roads, try Cycle Buddies – we connect people who want help to cycle more in touch with buddies who want to help them in their local area. You can then meet up and ride together.


How can we reduce road danger?

Although collisions are rare, lorries present the greatest risk to life for cyclists in London, accounting for half of London’s cycling deaths despite being for less than 5% of motor traffic mileage. The key things to change this are:

  • Improve lorry design. Poor lorry designs restrict visibility from the driver’s seat. We have successfully campaigned to change lorry designs across London – find out more.
  • Responsible procurement. We also want all London councils to only procure services from responsible and accredited lorry operators that use the safest lorries, invest in the best-trained drivers, and maintain the safest construction sites – find out more.


Check out our advice for route-planning, building your cycle skills, how to stop your bike getting stolen and more...


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