Why we're calling for a rush hour lorry ban

There’s been a huge amount of support for our End Lorry Danger campaign, which is calling on London’s mayor to get lethal lorries off London’s roads through a rush hour lorry ban, ‘direct vision’ lorries and stronger enforcement on rogue operators. Over 3000 people signed the petition in the first 24 hours, with almost 2000 comments in support of the proposals.

The Evening Standard covered our calls in an article on the number of hit-and-runs in London:

Today the London Cycling Campaign marked the month anniversary of the HGV death of 26-year-old cyclist Ying Tao at Bank to demand a 8am-9.30am ban on lorries over 7.5 tonnes, HGVs with better vision for drivers and stronger enforcement against rogue operators. The tipper truck driver stopped at the scene and City of London police launched an investigation after the death of Ms Tao.

The LCC fears the Mayor’s Safer Lorry scheme, due to be introduced in six weeks, does not go far enough as it will only require lorries to have basic safety equipment, which most already do. Lorries have been involved in seven of the eight cycle deaths in London this year.

Ashok Sinha, chief executive of LCC, said: “Forty per cent of cycling fatalities involving lorries occur in the morning rush hour. Almost all of these fatalities involve the construction and waste industry lorries that flood onto our roads at the same time thousands of people are cycling to work.

“The Safer Lorry scheme will do nothing to prevent this from happening, nor will it protect cyclists from lorries with restricted vision or unlicensed, untrained lorry drivers on London’s roads. Unless more is done, more people will lose their lives.”

The article also quotes Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor’s London Cycling Commissioner, as saying: “There are many difficulties and practicalities with imposing a rush hour ban in a major city like London. What we don’t want to see is heavy goods vehicle activity simply dispersed to other times of the day - HGVs flooding into town once the rush hour is over won’t deliver benefits for cyclists or pedestrians.”

While we agree that we don’t want to see lorries flooding into town once the rush hour is over, we don’t accept that this is the likely outcome of a rush hour ban. Such a ban would greatly reduce the risk of serious casualties because the morning rush hour has the highest number of cyclists and pedestrians on the street.

When we present the End Lorry Danger petition LCC will be asking for an immediate political commitment to implement the ban as soon as is legally possible.

There is general consensus that construction clients and fleet operators should be aiming to get deliveries off the roads at the busiest times. In 2013, TfL set up the freight retiming consortium to look at how deliveries could be moved out of the times when London’s roads are busiest – particularly between 7am and 11am Monday to Friday. We strongly support this work and the research that’s being done into moving freight off London’s roads altogether – for example by grouping more deliveries together and using the river to move concrete and gravel.

Nevertheless we believe regulation is needed to ensure that London’s most dangerous lorries – often the ones who are less proactive about reducing danger to vulnerable road users – aren’t on our roads at the busiest times. The Mayor of London has the power to introduce that regulation - and in addition to that, it must be down to local authorities, construction clients and fleet operators to ensure they're reducing risk to vulnerable road users.

Goods vehicles account for a quarter of all motor traffic in London between 7am and 11am Monday to Friday. Not only does this mean more road danger for cyclists and pedestrians, particularly at rush hour (the highest concentration of cyclists on the road is between 8am and 9.30am), but it also means inefficiencies in deliveries. Most drivers don’t want to travel when the roads are busiest – it means unpredictable journey times, inaccessible loading bays and missed delivery slots.

Re-timing deliveries so lorry drivers aren’t travelling at the same time as vulnerable road users makes sense for everyone, and reduces congestion, improving air quality and efficiency. For businesses, some investment might be needed at first to make re-timing deliveries work, but in the long run it can benefit everybody. It doesn't mean that deliveries will all be move to the middle of the night. Some night-time deliveries are allowed under the London Lorry Control Scheme.