Safer Lorry for cyclists on show and in use in London
On display at an exchanging places event at the Tate Britain is the first "Direct Vision" 32 ton tipper lorry. This lorry is now in daily use on London's streets.
In February we highlighted this vehicle when it was launched at the CLOCS exhibition. Currently on trial by Cemex for delivering stone aggregate it is being tested by three or four different drivers until the end of June when a full assessment will be made.
The Mercedes Econic design has a very low cab allowing the driver to see directly around him. The lorry is fitted with the latest set of mirrors and has all round cameras and detectors to pick up cyclists or pedestrians close by. It is, however, the direct vision of the high risk areas to the front and nearside of the lorry that greatly reduces the risk of it hitting a cyclist when turning left.
Cemex driver Tyrone Lawther cycles to work every day and also rides at weekends. The benefits of being at eye leve with other road users are immediately obvious to him.
When seen beside a conventional construction lorry the difference is stunning. The driver of the lorry on the left has to rely on checking many mirrors and a camera system. Even then he has very little view of a cyclist in the extreme risk position for a left turn; that is 2-4 metres out from the left front wheel.
The new lorry is very similar to the concept design produced by LCC in 2013 as a challenge to the construction industry. We are looking to other manufacturers to match the Mercedes offering. The campaign has already begun to get developers and contractors to specify this type of design as the only safe option for heavy lorries in London.
The main difference is that the new lorry has only one front axle and an extra steering axle at the rear. That allows it to make easier turns on narrow streets. The front of the new lorry is only 370 mm above street level compared to 685 for the "off-road" spec vehicle beside it. It can still carry a full 20 ton load of aggregate or other material. For rough ground driving the driver can raise the air suspension and not get caught in the mud and potholes.
Large lorries don't have many crashes with cyclists, but when they do the outcome can be horriffic. Half the cyclist fatalities in London involve large lorries. That is why we have been campaigning consistently to reduce the danger from these vehicles. Every cyclist should take heed of our advice on how to stay safe around large lorries.