Experts are calling for a ban on heavy goods vehicles in Britain's cities after a study found that despite making only 4% of road trips they were involved in 43% of London's cycling deaths.
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) analysed police road casualty data over a 15-year period from 1992 to 2006. During that period there were 242 deaths in London, or an average of 16 a year. Heavy goods vehicles were involved in 103 out of 242 of these incidents.
London mayor Boris Johnson recently said he plans to ban lorries from central London.
And the latest call from the experts comes on the day a lorry driver was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving after crushing a cyclist while chatting on his mobile phone with "the most God-awful hangover"
Dennis Putz, 51, was over the legal drink drive limit when he hit City public relations director Catriona Patel, 39, as he accelerated away from a set of traffic lights outside Oval tube station in south London.
The prosecution said he was not only over the limit when he hit Patel, but had failed to check his mirrors. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from driving for life.
"Trucks with high cabs are designed for motorway driving and should not be allowed inside city limits," said Dr Andrei Morgan from LSHTM's department of epidemiology and public health, who led the research. "Cyclists can do as much as they like in terms of making themselves visible: they can wear neon and cover themselves in lights, but truck drivers can't see them because they are too high up, the angles are wrong. Advanced stop lines are helpful but they don't solve the issue."
The research found that 53% of cyclists killed by trucks were crushed by trucks turning left across them, illustrating the danger of cycling up the left-hand side of a heavy vehicle. European studies have found the same
Morgan believes banning trucks that weigh more than 3.5 tonnes from cities and building a network of distribution centres on the edge of towns, where goods can be decanted into smaller vehicles, would save lives. The practice is widespread in Germany
, he said.
He said that fitting trucks with additional mirrors wouldn't solve the problem. "Mirrors obviously improve your field of vision but they are not as good as seeing things directly as you need extra time to interpret exactly where the person in the mirror is. Also, if you've got a mirror in front of your window it's going to be obscuring part of your view. Mirrors are often placed at the corners of vehicles so the mirrors themselves may be obscuring the cyclist. All in all, lower cabs with large windows, like buses or the newer dustbin trucks, are the solution in built-up areas."
Morgan added: "This unnecessary death toll cannot be ignored any longer. At a time when we are seeking to encourage more people to cycle, both for health and environmental reasons, this is not good enough."
Roger Geffen of CTC, the national cyclists' organisation, said lorries were the number one problem for cyclists.
"This research is absolutely correct, although cycle use in London is up 117% in the past 10 years, and the total number of cycling fatalities has been going down, the number of cyclists killed by trucks has not."
Transport for London (TfL) has introduced awareness training for lorry drivers, and a campaign to warn cyclists of the dangers of going up the left-hand side of lorries at junctions. It has distributed more than 20,000 Fresnel lenses to freight companies operating in London (see image) and contacted 300 operators that have construction vehicles in their fleet, urging them to install side-bars or other safety devices on HGVs.
TfL is also offering free cycle training for adult commuters, and has made a short film aimed at people using the bike hire scheme.http://www.youtube.com/user/BarclaysCyc ... 03r4IXE6co
A previous study in England, published in the British Medical Journal in 1994, looked at cycling fatalities between 1985 and 1992 and drew the same conclusions.
Morgan said: "The shocking thing is that there is no evidence of any change since this study was published, despite many changes in cycling behaviour."SOURCE