London Is Going to Ban the Deadliest Trucks From Its Streets

Photo: Transport for London via Treehugger
Image: Transport for London via Treehugger

Heavy trucks with big blind spots are a deadly menace to cyclists and pedestrians.

In Boston, eight of the nine cyclist fatalities between 2012 and 2014 involved commercial vehicles, according to the Boston Cyclists Union [PDF].

Between June and September this year, there were six cyclist fatalities in Chicago, and all six involved commercial vehicles.

In New York City, drivers of heavy trucks account for 32 percent of bike fatalities and 12 percent of pedestrian fatalities, despite the fact that they are only 3.6 percent of traffic.

U.S. cities are starting to take steps like requiring sideguards on some trucks. But no American city is tackling the problem like London is.

In London, city officials estimate that 58 percent of cyclist deaths and more than a quarter of pedestrian deaths involve heavy trucks, even though trucks only account for 4 percent of traffic. Evidence suggests trucks pose an especially large risk to women cyclists.

London will grade trucks on a scale from zero to five based on visibility. Graphic via Vision Zero Network
London will grade trucks on a scale from zero to five based on visibility. Graphic via Vision Zero Network

London cycling advocates (most notably, the London Cycling Campaign) have been pushing for safer truck standards, and the city is listening.

To prevent the needless loss of life, London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, has proposed ridding the city of the most dangerous trucks, using a six-point scale rating how well the truck driver can directly see outside the cab. Beginning next year, the city government will not work with contractors who use “zero-star” vehicles, the Guardian reports.

Khan wants the most dangerous trucks banned from the city entirely by 2020. By 2024, only trucks rated “good” — with a score of three or higher — will be allowed in the city.

London’s truck safety framework goes far beyond what American cities are doing. In part, that’s because U.S. cities have less power to dictate truck design, which is largely decided by federal and state regulations. Comprehensive efforts to regulate trucks at the city level have to be specifically enabled by the state.

But there’s still a lot that American cities can do on their own, said Alex Engel, a spokesperson with the National Association of City Transportation Officials, and some of them are taking action to protect people from trucks.

We’ll have more on how U.S. cities can improve truck safety in an upcoming post.

Correction: Post originally said all of Chicago’s six 2016 cycling fatalities involved heavy trucks. They all involved commercial vehicles. 

  • johnaustingreenfield

    While all six bike fatalities in Chicago this year involved commercial vehicles, only three involved trucks, all of them flatbeds. The other three cases involved a double-decker tour bus, a cargo van, and two freight trains.

  • rohmen

    This sounds great in theory, but assuming the capacity of a large truck is being fully utilized (which might not always be true, but likely is much of the time), doesn’t this just result in doubling or tripling the amount of truck traffic on the street? And if so, which is the more dangerous situation in the long run??

  • Thanks. I’ll correct.

  • Alicia

    … And what about the possibility of pursuing a requirement to modify trucks with cameras to fix the blind spot, instead of a full-on ban?

  • wklis

    While rear-view cameras will be mandatory after 2018, side-view should be included. However, keep the mirrors in case the cameras fail.

  • AlanThinks

    Many such large trucks are hauling small loads that can be off-loaded to smaller trucks thus reducing risk and the traffic congestion caused by large haul vehicles. Large trucks already go to terminals such as warehouses where loads are distributed to delivery vehicles. for the occasional large load that can only be delivered by a large truck an escort vehicle must be required.

  • Bicycle_Boy

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a2028f5a4117c5dd5f4aff2e44939bb4037f7ef0d68e31c86c533af6a6bb7854.jpg I recall reading about a city in Sweden, Gothenborg perhaps, that planned to ban large trucks from the city center. Large trucks would be required to drop cargoes at a warehouse at the outskirts of the city, and then local deliveries would be made by smaller vehicles. Delivery trucks based on the design of the Tecnobus Gulliver, a little electric bus from Italy, should work well.

  • rohmen

    It’s not that large trucks are carrying cargo that would only fit in large trucks (I agree, they almost always are not), it’s that a large truck can hold lets say 3000 cubic feet of cargo, while a small box truck can only hold a 1000 cubic feet. You can take the large truck off the road, but you’re then putting 3 smaller box trucks on the road to replace its capacity. And in my experience, companies are not running large trucks with only 1/3 cargo capacity being utilized—they’re normally full, and hit multiple spots in a given day doing deliveries (like several grocery stores or chain restaurants in a given area).

    My question is whether the safety you gain from removing the large truck counterbalances the safety you lose by increasing truck traffic by two or three fold.

    Is the better solution, as Alicia notes, to make the larger trucks more safe than simply just having more small trucks clog our streets.

  • Southeasterner

    Agreed and even scarier is you have a lot of inexperienced drivers operating smaller box trucks as they don’t require a CDL. Having driven one myself for a couple years and seeing how they interact with peds and bikes on city streets I would say increasing the number of those on the road is a much larger threat.

    Also large trucks tend not to operate in city centers except for the very late hours of the night or extremely early hours of the morning when their isn’t a lot of potential for conflict with cyclists.

  • Billy

    If you take your situation where you have one large truck carrying 3,000 cubic feet making multiple stops throughout the city, the easy solution is to have the 1,000 cubic feet truck make three trips from the warehouse. There’s times when this might not be absolutely the best scenario but most cities where these issues arise are small enough where the overall mileage added is still fairly minimal. And the smaller trucks are able to navigate the city easier and would theoretically be able to do the extra miles in the same amount of time.

  • Nicholas Littlejohn

    Perhaps a 180 degree or better camera like on Teslas

  • Alex

    When you’re looking at about 9 times more deaths than typical traffic users (New York), as the article describes, replacing them with three times as many safer road users is pretty much a no-brainer. Unless, maybe, you think reducing congestion is a higher priority than saving lives.
    Granted, if other commercial vehicles are even close to as dangerous as heavy trucks, this might not be the right strategy – something similarly drastic for all commercial vehicles would be. (Mechanically enforced speed limits, more stringent licensing requirements, etc.)

  • Smurf

    Surely the better solution is to make cyclists get a road license, like all other road users have to. As a regular driver, I’ve seen cyclists do monumentally stupid maneuvers which put multiple lives in danger, possibly from a lack of road awareness. Perhaps a rigorous test would lessen the danger for everyone.

    Banning Heavy Goods Vehicles will just have a knock on effect elsewhere. The trucks have to go somewhere, after all.

  • Joe R.

    You might as well have people get a license to walk while you’re at it since large trucks kill more pedestrians than cyclists. Bike licenses are best left in the bucket of really brain dead ideas which serve no purpose and would be incredibly difficult to implement and enforce. Any vehicle which has as many blind spots as a large truck doesn’t belong in areas with pedestrians or cyclists.

  • Joe R.

    A better long term solution is to get rid of the need for trucks altogether. Chicago actually had a system which more or less did this. It was a great idea then, it’s an even greater idea now. Whether you have large trucks or more smaller ones, they create a major quality of life problem for people in cities. Other ways exist to get freight from a depot to its final destination. While we’re at it, the freight can go from the place of manufacture to the depot by rail instead of long-haul truck. At the depot it’s transferred to an underground railway and delivered to the final destinations. Much neater than what we have now, probably far less labor intensive as well.

  • Smurf

    ‘You might as well have people get a license to walk while you’re at it since large trucks kill more pedestrians than cyclists.’

    Nonsense. Pedestrians don’t use the road, they cross them, More than enough pedestrian crossings in London.

    ‘Bike licenses are best left in the bucket of really brain dead ideas which serve no purpose and would be incredibly difficult to implement and enforce.’

    You haven’t shown why it would be a bad idea. The purpose should be obvious. It’s incredibly dangerous to allow a cyclist on the road with no knowledge of how to safely navigate one. It would be no more difficult to enforce than any other road license.

    ‘ Any vehicle which has as many blind spots as a large truck doesn’t belong in areas with pedestrians or cyclists.’

    That would relegate trucks to motorways, how would that work exactly?

  • Joe R.

    No, you suggested it, you have to show why it’s a good idea. What exactly would licensing accomplish? We’ve licensed car and truck drivers for decades and most still stink. A piece of paper doesn’t make you a better driver or better cyclist. And how do you enforce this? Even if you managed to get a licensing law passed, it would largely go unenforced. Police have better things to do than randomly stopping cyclists to ask for their license. If it were heavily enforced, cycling would drop to zero. That’s why bike licensing laws are a bad idea. They don’t make cyclists safer. They just eliminate cycling altogether but I suppose that’s your real goal anyway.

    This worked well as a way to deliver freight in cities without trucks over 100 years ago. A updated version with computer controlled trains would work even better today. It’s amazing how people can’t seen anything other that what exists now. Isn’t imagination and creative thinking taught in schools any more?

  • Smurf

    Are you a cyclist Joe?

  • Joe R.

    What does that have to do with anything? You don’t need to be a cyclist to think bike licensing is an awful, awful idea:

    http://www.executivestyle.com.au/18-reasons-why-registering-bicycles-is-a-bad-idea-1m23gh

    http://www.blogto.com/city/2012/01/5_reasons_why_licensing_cyclists_in_toronto_is_a_bad_idea/

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2010/dec/13/regulating-cyclists

    http://streets.mn/2015/07/13/lets-put-those-tired-anti-bike-arguments-to-rest/

    https://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2014/05/04/should-cyclists-be-licensed-to-ride-on-public-roads/

    Usually when the government decides a license is needed for something it is because the activity is potentially very harmful to others if not done properly. Here we have cyclists getting killed by trucks, not truck drivers getting killed by cyclists. It’s the trucks which are causing harm, and therefore need to be more highly regulated, not the cyclists.

  • rohmen

    Again, that’s all assuming smaller box trucks are “safer” than larger trucks to a degree that counterbalances the fact that you’re adding a lot more of them to the road—something I seriously question.

    Suggesting a ban of large trucks will prevent these type of tragedies suggests the tragedies were unavoidable in the first place (i.e., they were caused by design of the truck, and not driver error), which I strongly disagree with, as driver error is very often involved in these situations. Sure, a smaller truck has a smaller blind spot, and that helps, but a smaller blind spot only matters if the driver is properly checking it and exercising sufficient caution in the first place.

    Lastly, suggesting I’m prioritizing reducing congestion over saving lives is a total strawman argument. My point has consistently been that you’re not increasing safety overall if you remove 1 dangerous vehicle and replace it with 2 or 3 slightly less dangerous vehicles. The congestion point is a response to those that say an additional benefit of removing large trucks is reducing traffic issues they cause, again based on the point that smaller trucks still cause severe issues, and you’re doubling the amount that will be on the road.

    Bad policy with good intent is still bad policy. There needs to be a more comprehensive solution that addresses why drivers allow these incidents to happen in the first place, and IMHO just placing them in slightly less dangerous vehicles isn’t that solution.

  • Gargamelle

    I don’t see how a license is going to be any better. As a regular driver, more often I see drivers in cars, doing monumentally stupid maneuvers that put multiple lives in danger, also from a lack of road awareness. Maybe we need to implement a more rigorous test for those types of drivers.

  • Bicyclists don’t belong on roads that heavy trucks and heavy buses are allowed on, not just because of the blind spot turning issue.

    Do you know that heavy truck and bus tires are 12-ply steel cord with 100 psi behind them? If you are riding a bike within 8 feet of one of these tires when they blow-out you can be badly hurt or killed just by the flying shrapnel, which will knock you sideways right off your bike, and the concussion can damage your eardrums too.

    My advice as a 4-million mile driver if you want to live, DO NOT attempt to pass a heavy truck on its right side if its turn signals are flashing. DO NOT assume that the driver sees you, as truck drivers have a dozen other things to look at too. If the tractor is turned more than 15 degrees to the trailer all the driver can see in his blind side mirrors is the side of the trailer.

    If you get caught alongside a heavy truck that starts to turn right my professional advice would be to immediately steer to your right while braking hard and if-necessary ride up onto the sidewalk, as the driver can’t see you period except in a narrow wedge from the drive tires rearward that is only 6 feet wide at the back of the trailer and only a foot wide at the drive tires, when the tractor and trailer are straight, not turned.

    Remember that the truck’s trailer axles will turn much more sharply than the truck’s tractor when a heavy truck is making an intersection turn, and fully loaded the trailer tires can legally have up to 36,000 lbs on just those 8 tires.

    Also remember that heavy truck stopping distance is several times the stopping distance of a bicycle from 25 mph. First you have driver recognition and reaction time, then air brake application time, so it is an average of 1.5 seconds from the time that your brake lights come on until the truck’s brakes come on in an ideal situation.

    Now if you don’t have brake lights nor hand signal your stopping and turning intentions, following driver recognition and reaction time will increase by as much as triple. Figure 3 seconds of reaction and air brake application time at 30 mph, how far is that, do you know?

    132 feet before the truck’s brakes do anything when you don’t have brake lights or hand signal your stopping or turning intentions, plus additional braking distance.

    Yes, a heavy truck or heavy bus will run over a bicyclist and crush you as flat as an empty beer can in a parking lot if you make a major mistake right in front of a heavy truck or bus too.

    Say, what went wrong here?

    http://part380.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/r_turn.jpg

    Rookie mistake, The fact is that out of every 100 truck drivers, at-least 2 or 3 are rookies.

    What happened here?

    http://haulagereportnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/No-Zones4.jpg

    Car driver failed to yield to the truck’s turn signal and tried to pass on the right while the truck was turning right, and they didn’t make it.

    Remember that at-least 1/3rd of bicycle accidents are the bicycle rider’s fault too.

    Look, somebody reversed this photo as the original was made in England. That’s right, all these bicyclists can’t be seen by the truck driver turning to the right.

    https://bikesiliconvalley.org/wp-content/uploads/bike-truck-blindspot.jpg

    Stay out of heavy vehicle blind spots as you will live longer.

  • Here is the original video from England just so you know what a truck driver can see in the mirror while turning toward the vehicle’s blind side. Don’t ignore turn signals, stay back if you want to live.

  • Adult bicycle licensing is a great idea that I strongly feel will result in more adherence to common traffic laws by bicycle riders. How about paying $25/year for a rider’s license like they make truck drivers pay?

    I also strongly feel that adult bike riders should have license plates or license stickers as the extra revenue could be used to help pay for more bike lanes. How does $100/year sound?

    You say that cops don’t have time to stop and look at your license? Wait until you do something wrong right in-front of a cop and they will be glad to make time, not only to look at your driver’s license, your vehicle registration, your proof of insurance too, but also they will have plenty of time to write you a ticket.

    As what is good for everyone else on the road is good for bicycle riders too.

  • Joe R.

    This topic has been beaten to death hundreds of times. It’s not going to happen. It wouldn’t accomplish anything positive.

    Wait until you do something wrong right in-front of a cop and they will be glad to make time, not only to look at your driver’s license, your vehicle registration, your proof of insurance too, but also they will have plenty of time to write you a ticket.

    They can already stop you now if you’re doing something wrong and write you a ticket.

    Should pedestrians need licenses also? After all they have to cross roads, even if they stay on sidewalks most of the time.

    The bottom line here is those who think bikes should be licensed, registered, or insured aren’t suggesting it because it would accomplish anything positive. They’re doing it to discourage cycling (which is all these schemes would accomplish) and get bikes out of the way of their cars.

    Adult bicycle licensing is a great idea that I strongly feel will result in more adherence to common traffic laws by bicycle riders.

    What do you mean by “more” adherence to traffic laws? Most cyclists already slow and stop to let anyone with the legal right-of-way pass. I know that’s what I do. What I do if an intersection is empty doesn’t matter to you as it doesn’t affect anyone’s safety.

  • Joe R.

    You’re preaching to the choir here. I never pass trucks or buses on the right unless they’re stopped at red lights. If the light changes before I pass them I either follow directly behind, or hold back until they clear the intersection. I also generally give trucks and buses a wide berth even if I’m not near an intersection. If I see one overtaking me from behind, I move as far right as possible. I fully realize they can’t stop quickly, so I’m not hitting my brakes if one is directly behind me. However, the inability to not stop quickly works to my advantage following them. I can stay close enough to catch their draft and still be able to stop in time if they do an emergency stop. In fact, behind a truck or bus is really the only safe place for a cyclist.

  • Licensing for adult bike riders operating on streets would no more be trying to restrict bike riding than driver’s licenses, annual registrations, and liability insurance requirements are an attempt to restrict driving.

    Driver’s licenses are only obtained after safety instruction and passing a written and driving test for safety reasons. Why should bicyclists or riders of powered scooters get to ride as unsafely as possible without liability insurance and medical coverage? Your argument is ludicrous.

    Pedestrians need to cross at crosswalks or they should be ticketed for jaywalking. It is unsafe to cross anywhere without looking, as pedestrians lately are prone to do . How did that young woman in LA get killed trying to cross a busy 5-lane road after her dad’s birthday party? Simple. After drinking a fair amount of alcohol she failed to look both ways before walking right out in front of moving traffic in a 35 MPH zone. Whose fault is that?

    Do you think that drunken pedestrians ought to have the right of way at railroad tracks too? After-all, a trolley car with a rush hour load ought to be able to stop within 250 feet from 35 mph, don’t you think?

    There is a good reason that we have traffic laws, which is to prevent as many needless deaths and injuries as-possible. If you fail to abide by common traffic laws you can expect to get hurt or killed sooner or later. Just the way it is.

    If bike riders want better bicycle infrastructure why not help pay for it, as there is no free lunch. Frankly if an adult bike rider or powered scooter rider can’t afford to pay for a license they don’t belong operating either bikes or powered scooters on our roads.

    If you can’t let-go of the handlebars on a powered scooter long-enough to legally signal your turn and stop intentions such vehicles are illegal on our highways due to a gross deficiency in safe operation that isn’t legal.

    How about if cars, heavy trucks, and buses don’t have brake lights, turn signals, or their operator doesn’t hand signal turning and stopping intentions? What is that called? Failure to signal, a 2-point ticket.

    Several different studies by the US-DOT have shown that intoxicated bike riders are responsible for between 30 and 35% of all bicycle accidents. Now if a car driver, truck driver, or bus driver gets busted for driving while intoxicated they can have their operator’s license suspended or even revoked.

    Tell us all please why intoxicated or drugged bicycle riders or powered scooter riders shouldn’t be subject to having their privilege to ride on our roads suspended or revoked if they get caught? How about the 9 out of 10 bicycle riders who will try to hit and run after running over a pedestrian in a crosswalk while running a red light? Why should they get to keep operating recklessly with no possible sanction at all?

    Are you one of those Red State types that completely favors zero restrictions on gun ownership too?

    Here is a City of London, UK bicycle safety video. What is your opinion of staying back of heavy trucks and buses at stoplights rather than trying to filter to the front along the blind side of such vehicles for safety reasons?

    I’ll bet that this same policy would save a lot of bike rider’s lives here in the US too.

  • Crikey? What does that mean?

  • It is too damn bad when cyclists ignore common traffic laws and put themselves in extremely dangerous situations on our highways. Why do you honestly feel that bike riders and powered scooter riders should be allowed to violate common traffic laws?

  • Here is some bike rider video from the US. Are you kidding me?
    Dude, stay on the sidewalk if you can’t do a better job than this:

  • What does “endlessly waiting to be approved by Streetsblog’s heavily-biased moderators” mean?

    Bicyclists don’t belong on roads that heavy trucks and heavy buses
    are allowed on, not just because of the blind spot turning issue.

    Do
    you know that heavy truck and bus tires are 12-ply steel cord with 100
    psi behind them? If you are riding a bike within 8 feet of one of these
    tires when they blow-out you can be badly hurt or killed just by the
    flying shrapnel, which will knock you sideways right off your bike, and
    the concussion can damage your eardrums too.

    My advice as a
    4-million mile driver if you want to live, DO NOT attempt to pass a
    heavy truck on its right side if its turn signals are flashing. DO NOT
    assume that the driver sees you, as truck drivers have a dozen other
    things to look at too. If the tractor is turned more than 15 degrees to
    the trailer all the driver can see in his blind side mirrors is the
    side of the trailer.

    If you get caught alongside a heavy truck
    that starts to turn right my professional advice would be to immediately
    steer to your right while braking hard and if-necessary ride up onto
    the sidewalk, as the driver can’t see you period except in a narrow
    wedge from the drive tires rearward that is only 6 feet wide at the back
    of the trailer and only a foot wide at the drive tires, when the
    tractor and trailer are straight, not turned.

    Remember that the
    truck’s trailer axles will turn much more sharply than the truck’s
    tractor when a heavy truck is making an intersection turn, and fully
    loaded the trailer tires can legally have up to 36,000 lbs on just those
    8 tires.

    Also remember that heavy truck stopping distance is
    several times the stopping distance of a bicycle from 25 mph. First you
    have driver recognition and reaction time, then air brake application
    time, so it is an average of 1.5 seconds from the time that your brake
    lights come on until the truck’s brakes come on in an ideal situation.

    Now
    if you don’t have brake lights nor hand signal your stopping and
    turning intentions, following driver recognition and reaction time will
    increase by as much as triple. Figure 3 seconds of reaction and air
    brake application time at 30 mph, how far is that, do you know?

    132
    feet before the truck’s brakes do anything when you don’t have brake
    lights or hand signal your stopping or turning intentions, plus
    additional braking distance.

    Yes, a heavy truck or heavy bus will
    run over a bicyclist and crush you as flat as an empty beer can in a
    parking lot if you make a major mistake right in front of a heavy truck
    or bus too.

    Say, what went wrong here?

  • Cool if you don’t mind paying triple for city freight pickups and deliveries.

    That policy ought to work amazingly-well to advance the business interests of suburbs well ahead of those of cities.

  • True. A full-size 18-wheel dry van can carry 49,000 lbs of cargo legally in all 50 States, a full-size 18-wheel refrigerated truck can carry up to 45,000 lbs of cargo in all 50 States, and an 18-wheel flatbed truck can carry up to 52,000 lbs of cargo legally in all 50 States too, whereas the average freight 6-wheel truck can only carry 14,000 lbs of cargo in a dry box freight application, 12,000 lbs in a refrigerated application, and maybe 16,000 lbs on a 6-wheel flatbed, none of which by the way can stop in less than 300% more-distance from 30 mph than a bicyclist can.

  • Chicago’s 2-foot gauge freight tunnel system worked OK before World War II but went bankrupt in the late 1950s, just like lots of urban trolley operations did. Then just 20 or so years ago, a dredging and piling firm driving piles for a major new business near one of Chicago’s ship channels accidentally punctured one of those century-old tunnels and every building in Chicago hooked to any of those abandoned freight tunnels suddenly filled-up full of Chicago River water, causing tens of billions in damages.

    Frankly I have 37 years of experience at-least one day per-week running a refrigerated 18-wheel truck making local deliveries in Greater Chicago. How much experience making city pickups and deliveries in Chicago do you have my man? Any??? What makes you an expert?

    Here is some information on the Chicago freight tunnels, of which over 90% are under downtown Chicago, and only extend slightly north, west, or south of the downtown street grid.

    https://www.chicagodetours.com/chicagos-freight-tunnels-the-forgotten-underground-2/

    https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/chicago-freight-tunnels

  • I have an idea for you downtown Chicago bike riders that couldn’t care less about common traffic laws. How about using the old freight tunnels when you are riding downtown and leave the streets to the professional drivers hauling your food supply???

  • Obviously you never drove an 18-wheel truck in Chicago making city deliveries to meat companies, wholesale food companies, grocery stores like Wild Oats or Fresh Fields before Whole Foods bought both out, and numerous other places as small as restaurants.

    I have about 37 years of experience doing that very job in Chicago, where 90% of all such deliveries are during daylight hours. I drove this very truck doing city deliveries all over Greater Chicago from 2007 through 2010 and started my career driving 18-wheel trucks in 1978.

    http://denneytransport.com/userfiles/707/images/slide-2.jpg

  • Joe R.

    If you’re passing a red light at an empty intersection by definition you’re not placing yourself or anyone else in danger because nothing is there. Why is that so hard to understand, and why does it annoy people if cyclists or pedestrians refuse to sit there staring at empty space for minutes (yes, some red light cycles are a few minutes long)? If you want to fix the problem for all concerned, then here’s a solution. You put all traffic lights on sensors. You make sure traffic lights never go red unless something is actually crossing. You make sure they only stay red for as long as it takes that something to cross. If you do that, they everyone will know a red light means something is definitely crossing in front of you, and you have to stop until it passes. So long as we have traffic lights on dumb, timed cycles where they’re red if nothing is there 95% of the time, you’ll have people passing them.

  • As long as you don’t mind paying triple for city freight and fresh food pickups and deliveries, which will render cities even less-competitive against their suburbs than they are now.

    The most-dangerous thing about Americas roads lately are bicyclists who think nothing of violating common traffic laws.

  • Because every other road user MUST abide by common traffic laws. Frankly Joe, if you don’t want to abide by common traffic laws stay off my roads that I have already paid over $1 million for myself.

  • Joe R.

    No, I’m 56 in November, so you were driving a truck from the time I was 19, not from before I was born.

    The fact there was a flood because a company couldn’t be bothered to get plans doesn’t make Chicago’s tunnels a bad idea. As for the lack of profitability, to date no transportation system has been profitable in its entirety, meaning that the operator makes money after paying for the infrastructure, vehicles, labor, and so forth. Lots of transportation systems are profitable when government bankrolls the infrastructure. Government builds roads, airports, subways, and so forth. Each of these can be profitable for the operator, but only if the operator doesn’t have to pay to build the infrastructure. Had government taken over the tunnels, as it did the private subways in NYC, when it was obvious they couldn’t make money, and expanded/upgraded them over the years, then this could have been the way freight was deliver in Chicago. Also, nothing is stopping Chicago or any other city with subways from using those subways late nights for freight delivery. Granted, you can only cover areas served by the subway, but those tend to be the densest areas where large trucks cause the most issues.

  • Joe R.

    I live in NYC, not Chicago, but I’ve suggested elevated viaducts for bikes, as well as tunnels where feasible. Believe me, I don’t enjoy riding on crowded streets constantly needing to watch for motorists or pedestrians doing stupid things, or looking for potholes, or going around double-parked vehicles. I’ll gladly never ride on the streets again if a system like I mentioned which covered the entire city was built. And no need to put viaducts above every street. Put them over the main arterials. I could reach them riding on quiet side streets for a just a few blocks. If I do a 20 mile trip on my bike, maybe I’ll only need to ride on the streets for 8 or 10 blocks. Moreover, those would be side streets where I’m not likely to encounter large trucks.

  • Joe R.

    So pedestrians have to wait and stare at empty space too even when they clearly see they can safely cross a road? That’s just stupid. When laws require people to do stupid things they won’t be obeyed. You’re the one who seems so bothered by something trivial like cyclists treating reds as yields, so maybe you and all the other drivers who are bothered by this should chip in and pay for the solution I mentioned. Or just accept that cyclists and pedestrians can safely abide by a slightly different set of traffic laws because they have much greater visibility than you do driving your truck.

    Oh, and I ride late nights when the roads are empty precisely so I don’t have to breathe polluted air. There are also almost no vehicles on the roads which makes for pleasant riding.

  • You pay for it or you don’t get it. Why do you think that anyone but bike riders should pay for redoing signaling? Here in Metro Denver if a bicyclist runs a red light and cop sees you that can be up to a $400 fine, and in California if a bicyclist runs a red light that is up to a $1000 fine.

    We are sick and tired of bicyclists acting like they don’t have to abide by common traffic laws here and trying so hard to ruin our productivity when you don’t pay a dime.

  • Joe R.

    The reason others like you should pay for resignaling is because you’re the ones who are bothered by it. Cyclists and pedestrians going through red lights at empty intersections don’t present safety issues or any other issues. I’ve been doing this both as a cyclist and a pedestrian for well over 40 years. I never once had even a close call, let along got hit by a vehicle. It shouldn’t bother you or concern you at all that people do this. But since it obviously does, then pay for resignaling so it doesn’t happen. Even as a truck driver, you should be screaming to the high heavens to get lights to work this way. You would benefit greatly. How much fuel do you burn sitting at empty intersections waiting for lights to change? It’s easily hundreds of dollars a year, maybe thousands.

    Note that I’m NOT advocating or suggesting cyclists or pedestrians cross streets when other users have a green light. If something is crossing, I wait until it passes, then I go. That’s what nearly everyone on bikes or on foot does. I’m not challenging a multiton vehicle because I know I’ll lose every time. If you encounter a few stupid cyclists who ride through reds without looking, well, that would be illegal even under a law allowing cyclists to treat reds as yields. Idaho has had the Idaho stop law which works almost like I said (stop signs are yields and red lights are stop and proceed if safe) for decades. It’s worked out well. There’s no confusion. A person with the legal right-of-way still gets it under such a law. The law just prevents cyclists sitting for minutes at empty intersections waiting for lights to change.

  • Here is a good map of the old freight tunnels. In-fact you can click on it and it will enlarge large-enough to read the street names. I would only rarely make deliveries in downtown Chicago however I made deliveries to Fulton Market for 35 years and to the Chicago Stockyards area even longer than that. I used to deliver to Amtrak which was right south of Roosevelt east of 90/94 downtown every week for 10 years just so that Amtrak trains could serve steaks in their onboard restaurants. You can also get to Amtrak’s freight receiving facility coming-in off of Archer Ave east of 90/94 too.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c7/IllinoisTunnelMap1910.png

  • How about car drivers, bus drivers, and 18-wheel drivers running red lights at 35 mph while you are trying to cross on your bicycle? Would you be OK with that?

  • Joe R.

    Thank you. Very interesting. It was amazing they built something that expansive over 100 years ago. I think one of the problems was the city eventually expanded beyond. If you had to put some freight on trucks to reach points beyond the tunnels, it made sense to just deliver all of it that way. As a result, the system lost business. Also, as manufacturing moved out of cities, and eventually out of the country, many buildings which had large deliveries didn’t any more. When you look at businesses in cities nowadays, they’re mostly service industries. Offices rarely need large, bulk deliveries. The tunnels were a good idea at the time they were made, but things changed. They may have still been viable if they eventually also started moving people in addition to cargo, basically functioning as an underground trolley system.

  • Joe R.

    No, I wouldn’t be OK with that, nor would I even be OK with other cyclists running red lights at 20 mph when I have the green. Green means right-of-way. If we give cyclists and pedestrians the privilege of crossing on red, it’s incumbent on them to make sure it’s clear before doing so, and to yield to anyone with the legal right-of-way. If they get hit, whoever hit them wouldn’t be liable. In practice I find I can’t safely pass red lights at full riding speed anyway. I typically slow down to 8 to 10 mph, cover my brake, look both ways several times. If anything is coming, I stop and wait. If not, I accelerate back up to speed. At intersections with low visibility, I may need to come nearly to a stop before proceeding.

    Note in most of the country (not NYC) it’s legal for motorists to turn right on red. So we already allow something like I suggested even for motor vehicles. Obviously, the driver must make sure it’s clear before turning.

    As an aside, I’ve already encountered a number of motor vehicles running red lights while riding. Thankfully I always look, even when I have a green light, so nothing came of it.

  • The #1 and #2 types of freight by tonnage that the Chicago Freight Tunnel system hauled over its life were coal and coal ash, from the era when many downtown buildings were heated by coal-fired boilers. It was the changeover to heating by natural gas along with the fact that lots of other freight was being hauled by trucks by then that finally bankrupted the Freight Tunnel system in the late 1950s.

    However, even after the system bankruptcy in 1959 a few downtown businesses such as the Chicago Tribune used to run rolls of newsprint between their warehouse and printing facility using the Freight Tunnels into the mid-1980s. Before attending Cleveland State University from 1986 to 1990 I did not know about the Chicago Freight Tunnel system.

    Sometimes office buildings go through a fair amount of office paper, though perhaps not as much as they used-to in the current era of electronic communications. Other than office paper and office furniture, also generally delivered by truck, then many office buildings have restaurants, newsstands, coffee bars, etc, that still use often daily truck freight deliveries due to limited on-site storage, especially refrigerated storage.

    Somewhat similar though surface level was the Gilpin Tram, which used to supply and haul ore from most of the big gold mines above the mills at Blackhawk, CO. The Gilpin Tram was a 2-foot gauge steam freight railroad that could make curves that were much-sharper than even 3-foot narrow-gauge trains could make.

    In the era before trucks and good roads railroads such as the Gilpin Tram or the Chicago Freight Tunnel system were the only choice other than horse-drawn wagons and early rudimentary truck freight, which was high-cost. At one time Central City, CO had a population of 15,000 people but before gambling was legalized by Colorado voters in 1992 the population of Central City had dropped to less than 1/10th of that with almost all the old mines closing.

    Here is a good website that includes a lot of information about the Gilpin Tram as well as the mining industry in and above Central City and Blackhawk, CO:

    http://gilpintram.com/gilpintram.html

  • Joe R.

    Thanks! Really interesting stuff. I was a railroad buff way before I was a cyclist. Actually, from the time I first played with model trains as a young child I was hooked.

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