After Another Cyclist Dies, David Cameron Considers Truck Ban in UK Cities

Following the death of 26-year-old cyclist Ying Tao, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would look into a truck ban for city centers throughout the UK.

Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of Britain’s Conservative Party. Photo via Thinking About Cycling

In a meeting with the British equivalent of the Congressional Bike Caucus, Cameron promised to ask Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to come up with recommendations for improving cycling safety in the country. He suggested that that list could include a ban on trucks in city centers, improved intersection design, and staggered traffic light phasing. Cameron also said he would ask officials to look into greater enforcement of rules mandating that trucks feature certain safety features.

More than half of London cyclist deaths involve trucks. Six of the seven cyclists killed in London so far this year were women hit by construction trucks.

Parliamentarian Ben Bradshaw, the cycling group’s leader, noted that Britain’s major cities “have a lamentable record both for levels of cycling and for cycle safety compared to those of our European neighbours, and it would take very little public investment to make a big improvement in the climate for cycling.”

The government is currently drafting a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. Currently, about 2 percent of trips in Britain are made by bike, but less than 1 percent of transportation funding goes to cycling.

Several European cities prohibit the entrance of heavy vehicles into downtown areas during peak hours, including Paris, Dublin, and Prague.

Earlier this year, London mandated that trucks over 3.5 tons need to have side guards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels and extra mirrors to eliminate blind spots.

While the city maintains a peak-hour ban on the largest trucks (over 40,000 pounds) on specified city streets, Mayor Boris Johnson has rejected calls for more comprehensive regulations, like extending the ban to cover the type of truck involved in the killing of Ying Tao.

  • G1991

    I’ve always supported the concepts of “freight stations” just outside of major cities where trucks and trains can meet and transfer their cargo to other modes of transportation such as smaller electric delivery trucks or, if inside the city, electric-assist cargo bikes (already being done in Copenhagen and Amsterdam).

  • Keith Peat

    Anyone know why we need cyclists on the road in 2015? We must have trucks. Perhaps a read of this blog covers the problem. http://bit.ly/1IBoc0l

  • Keith Peat, American readers might like to know, is a notorious anti-cycling troll who runs an organization called “Drivers’ Union”. It used to be called East Midlands drivers or something like that. He represents nobody much wider than himself. He will now berate me for the way I’ve described him.

  • A big part of the truck problem in London is that, while the £11.50 ($17.89) daily congestion charge has done a good job of cutting the number of cars entering Central London, lobbying by the freight industry had the charge made exactly the same for far larger trucks. This has increased the proportion of trucks in London traffic, since the charge is a far lower proportion of their operating costs. The Conservatives’ record on enacting rational transport measures in London isn’t great, so I don’t have high hopes that Cameron will do anything serious about this issue.

    It’s worth pointing out, however, the very different perceptions of the safety issues on either side of the Atlantic. Around 4 per cent of commuting trips in London are by bike, against 1 per cent in New York. Yet the cycling death toll in the two places is around the same. There have been seven deaths so far this year in London and six in New York. That makes it clear it’s far more dangerous to cycle in New York. There’s far more anger about the deaths in London, however, partly because London’s streets are generally far safer than New York’s – London has a higher population and higher car ownership but only around half of New York’s annual death toll. It would be good to import to New York London’s outrage about the unnecessary death toll from cycling, in the hope something can be done about reducing it.

  • Joe R.

    Are you sure that site isn’t satire? If the author seriously believes any of the drivel he writes then he’s certifiable.

  • It is not in any way satire. He is deadly serious.

    He is sufficient of a figure in UK street safety figures that there is a parody Twitter account called “Keith Peat’s Dog”. I understand Mr Peat complained that he’d noticed his local police force’s Twitter account was following the dog. But he might confirm that for himself.

  • baklazhan

    It seems to me that technology has advanced (and become cheap) to the point that we can require all trucks which operate in cities to be equipped with cameras that eliminate blind spots– for example.

  • Joe R.

    Wow. Does anyone actually take him seriously, though? I’m inclined to dismiss rants like these the same way I dismissed those from Dorothy “the all powerful bike lobby conspiricist” Rabinowitz as products of a delusional mind.

  • Tyson White

    There’s a small difference. Several of the London fatalities happened in Central London. In NYC, all but 1 happened outside of Manhattan. I do like to compare NY and London because their populations are the same, but there’s a difference in density, particularly in Manhattan.

  • R.A. Stewart

    It’s a measure of the gap, or maybe chasm, between the U.S. and the civilized world that Britain’s Conservative leader can make such a proposal.

  • Keith Peat

    I am not anti cycling, nor am I a troll. The Trolls follow me around.

    I cycle myself and simply realise that where our society must have drivers to subsist, that simply isn’t true about cyclists.

    It is amazing that we do not commence all road cycling debates by asking ‘Why must we have cyclists on the road in 2015?’ when we are talking about banning essential infrastructure for them. It seems a very fair question that really needs to be asked and answered. Of course the cycling lobby, who only seem capable of calling me silly names in response, only want a debate on their terms and some of the comments on here prove that.

    But since 99% of the population don’t cycle simply because it is not a viable transport option, then I think it’s right that their needs should take precedence and that means that as they all depend on motor transport, not cyclists, it should be a priority.

    Being pro driver doesn’t make me anti cyclist so it’s very telling that cyclists see pro drivers as enemies as they do.

  • Keith Peat

    It says much for the infantile intelligence of the anti drivers and anti genuine road safety that they need to follow an imaginary dog, that does not post anything resembling truth at any stage. It actually endorses my view that the cycling lobby live in a totally unrealistic world and incapable of addressing issues sensibly and honestly so comfort themselves with parody accounts instead.

    I am delighted with these accounts, since it really means that I am very important to these people who are only a tiny minority compared with UK’s 35 million drivers.

    Yes I do object to officials, like police, compromising themselves by following an anti driver anti road safety account if they expect to be objective in any proceedings against drivers at court. As an ex cop, I find this appalling and do complain to their forces about it too.

  • So, maybe people think you’re a troll because your statements are so absurd. I don’t even know where to start. Utrecht is a pretty good counter example to everything you’ve written. As for enemy, I think its very reasonable that someone who’s advocating against your safety would be seen as an enemy.

  • Keith Peat

    The Trolls follow me around and then make personal remarks just as you do now, without addressing one fact that I publish.

    Cite where I am advocating against cycling safety. On the contrary, I am continually warning cyclists of their dangers and the dangerous concept of it.

    It is being high up on two thin wheels, on a slender frame at unnatural speeds, unprotected and mixing, mingling, competing with and often obstructing, large fast moving essential machinery operated by complete strangers of varying ability and mental capability. That is cycling. If it were a fairground ride it would be banned. If anyone suggested it now we would think he’s crazy. So yes, as a road safety matter, we simply cannot ignore the reality and concept of it. People are being maimed and killed doing it. So should we be encouraging it? Do we really need it?

    These seem like very courageous intelligent and appropriate questions to anyone outside the cycle lobby. I am simply brave enough to raise all this that’s all.

  • Your initial assumption that our society must have drivers to exist/subsist is deeply flawed. Society got along just fine without motor vehicles for thousands of years, and although I do not know what tomorrow might look like, I can pretty much guarantee you that it will look nothing like today.

  • Keith Peat

    From the time society took to the horse, camel and bullock it did not expand on manpower transport.

    The predecessors to today’s motor vehicles, the chariots, waggons, carts, carriages, stages, traps etc were what expanded the USA not cyclists. The motor vehicle is the successor to all this, hence horsepower and carriageways, which, in the UK, the part of the road vehicles use, is still legally called the carriageway. So there is nothing ‘deeply flawed’ at all. Are you really suggesting that USA can run on cyclists and walkers? Well it cannot run without walkers but it sure as hell wouldn’t miss cyclists.

    You demonstrate admirably how narrow minded the cycle lobby is.

    But this is all about the UK Prime Minister banning essential infrastructure, for a very hazardous pursuit that no-one actually needs. Isn’t anyone allowed to query that without being abused? That’s your Cycle Lobby for you.

  • Narrow minded? I didn’t advocate for anything. I merely suggested that motor vehicles haven’t been around long and probably aren’t going to be around much longer at least in their present form. If that’s narrow minded, so be it. Have a nice day.

  • Bicycle Driver

    Knowledge and Skills need to be acquired when bicycling in traffic, especially where trucks are a part of the traffic composition: http://iamtraffic.org/resources/interactive-graphics/what-cyclists-need-to-know-about-trucks/

  • You’re brave? Please, you accuse me of personal attacks, when I point out the absurdity of your arguments. If driving was a fair ground ride, it would be four or five roller coasters going off the rails and killing everyone every week. You think cycling is “unnatural”, and suggest driving instead? You’re either utterly stupid (a personal attack this time), or intentionally misleading. And your failure to check facts don’t end there. Should we be encouraging cycling? Even with the ridiculous safety issues for cycling in North America, cycling is so much better for your health than sitting in a car, the health benefits outweigh the health risks. So yeah, we should encourage it, and we should do so by improving the safety of it. Just because “intelligent” people like you, don’t like facts doesn’t change that.

  • Just a correction: 8 cyclists have been killed this year in London, 7 by trucks of some description, and 6 of the cyclists killed by trucks were female. So 2 males killed, one by a heavy truck, and 6 females all killed by trucks.

  • The bicycle was invented in the 19th century, long after man had domesticated all of the beasts of burden you listed. That one fact alone says volumes about your point of view. Oh, and the roads you travel were initially paved by and for cyclists so that they could get from town to town without becoming spattered with mud from head to toe, but were then declared part of the commons by the people who built them for the good of all, before the motor vehicle came and usurped the roads. This is all recorded history that you could look up if you weren’t so prejudiced against cycling.

  • Drivers E. Midlands

    The point is that society wasn’t built on manpower transport including cycles. It was all about load, speed and distance. Society would now collapse without motor transport and now only needs walkers and drivers on the road. Please don’t try to pretend otherwise.

    Oh I see you cite that rabid anti driver Carlton Reid’s ‘Roads weren’t Built for Cars selective tome on history. Do you really believe that we wouldn’t have developed roads and tyres without bikes?.

    I am not prejudiced against cycling at all. But you are clearly prejudiced about drivers and driving or else you would acknowledge that we can manage without cyclists but not drivers. Of course I will never change your mind, but most readers will acknowledge that point. So why ban trucks? Why must we have cyclists? Is the very first question we must ask. So far no-one has a good answer.

    So far as history, yes of course the cycle had a short heyday in the early part of the last century when poor people didn’t own horses and traps, and so could travel a bit further to work on them, but because they were not viable and very restricted, they soon ditched them when private motor transport became common. Now our whole economy is based on private car use. Cycling is going backwards to the first half of the last century. If it was any good, most of us would be doing it most of the time wouldn’t we?

    It’s like jogging as a means to get anywhere. Very restricted, hard work and uncomfortable. As we don’t need joggers so we don’t need cyclists either. It’s a fact.

  • neroden

    I was wondering how they were going to ban trucks in city centers when they need to get there to make deliveries. Apparently the idea is only to ban them during peak hours, so they’ll still come in at midday and overnight.

  • neroden

    We would not have developed asphalt roads without bikes. Simple historical fact. Automobiles were designed to run on dirt roads and were quite good at it. Nobody would have paved roads just for autos.

  • neroden

    London has a number of problems which are attributable to the destruction of the many, many railway freight terminals within London. Those have been built over, so it’s practically impossible to bring them back. Unfortunately, the result is that London absolutely requires a large amount of truck delivery traffic. 😛

  • neroden

    This makes sense. You’re still going to have a lot of smallish delivery trucks running around, though, so I think safety measures for them should be a higher priority.

  • Miles Bader

    Make the charge proportional to the cube of the weight. Something small, say a mini, can be “1”, so:

    charge = basic_charge × (weight / weight_of_mini

  • Marek B.

    It’s simple. For example in Prague you simply have to overload the cargo from big truck to small one outside banned area. There are 2 zones (http://img.auto.cz/news/img/art/2014-24/04_5395bc143dbd4.jpg). Within blue zone are banned trucks over 6t 24/7. Within red zone, no cars above 3,5t are allowed Mo-Fr 8-18, to make deliveries there, you have to come there outside these hours.

  • Tyson White

    You just described why walking is dangerous. You also didn’t respond to Dan’s point that in Utrecht, they don’t need “drivers to subsist”.

  • Tyson White

    Your point about “the USA” is very broad. Cities like New York and London are too overcrowded to allow everyone to drive. It’s unreasonable to give away 80% of the public space to a small minority who drive. The amount of public spaces used for dedicated cycle lanes is under 0.5%. The majority of residents in both above cities know how to ride bikes. Most own bikes and do enjoy riding them. The reason they unwilling to use them for transportation is because of your insistence that cars are a priority and there’s no room (really?!) for cycling…

  • jr023

    Romans paved roads with brick and stone 2000 yrs ago it made the empire possible

  • jr023

    a little research i bet horses and carriages killed many bicyclists and pedestrians every year . and possibly it time to lisence bick riders requiring safety courses like what they did for motorcycles. including simulators showing how trucks cannot often see bikes riding in there blind spots

  • jr023

    while i was a light truck driver the cost of transferring freight especially if most of it goes to one or two stops a trailer is 40 foot it would take 12 10 foot 3.5 t trucks to replace it so ten large trunks would have to be replaced with 120 small truck trips lots of more congestion not to mention double the cost of freight and a significant risk more traffic more chances of accidents. night deliveries another solution means the companies or customers would have to pay for night help which also risks more crime opening loading areas in the middle of the night

  • neroden

    Yeah, soliders on foot like paved roads too…

  • neroden

    Recently, when someone drove on the sidewalk in Manhattan and killed someone… it seems the driver got away with it. Grrrr……

  • neroden

    Actually, keeping the loading areas open in the middle of the night should reduce crime. More “eyes on the building” during more hours of the night makes it harder for would-be criminals to find a safe time to break in.

    Paying for night help is a cost, yes.

  • Tyson White

    Actually, it happened numerous times this year in NYC https://twitter.com/curbjumpingnyc Almost all were not charged.

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