Government unleashes 1800 longer lorries on our streets - increasing the risk to cyclists.


Transport minister Mike Penning MP today announced that his department will allow a 10 year trial of 1800 extra long articulated lorries on our streets despite their failure to fully assess the impact on cyclists' safety and damage to roads and infrastructure.

Starting next January transport operators will have the chance to use up to 900 artics with trailers up to 14.6 metres long and a further 900 up to 15.65 metres - a full two metres longer than the limit allowed by the EU for international freight.

London Cycling Campaign and other cycling and environmental groups objected to the proposals earlier this year when it became clear that there had been no study of these lorries on narrow streets and tight junctions.

The DfT only examined the way these lorries negotiated a small roundabout of EU standard design.

Most street junctions in London have tighter corners than such a roundabout.  

The 900 lorries up to 14.6 metres will not even have to meet this performance level as long as they meet other regulations on weights and load distribution.

The even longer lorries with 15.65 metre trailers may have special steering systems to get around corners but none of these will work on really tight corners as shown in the picture.

Minister lacks evidence

In September transport minister Penning told the house of commons that these longer lorries did not pose a risk to cyclists and that the turning circles of the longer lorries are "much tighter than those of existing lorries".

Both these statements seem to be questionable. The DfT evaluation showed an increased risk of crashes in low speed turning manouvres, where cyclists are at risk. The tighter turning circles cannot be achieved on narrow roads with small junctions.

The CTC and London Cycling Campaign have written to the minster asking him to show the evidence for these statemts or to "set the record straight".

photo Jim Chisholm An existing-length lorry sticks in a narrow street trying to deliver a single pallet to a book shop