London mayor Boris Johnson has launched his Safer Lorry Scheme (previously the Safer Lorry Charge), pledging to ban trucks without cycle safety equipment from the capital.

Described as a hardening of the previously-announced policy, the scheme has seen an escalation in sanctions from the previous promise of a fine for any trucks entering the capital to an outright ban.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “In my Cycling Vision, I said that no lorry should be allowed in London unless it is fitted with equipment to protect cyclists. Neither I nor the boroughs have the power to ban lorries without safety equipment on our own.

"It was for that reason that I proposed to use a power I do have, to levy a hefty charge on lorries without such equipment. But I am pleased to say that after negotiations with London Councils, we can now combine our powers to propose a simple and comprehensive ban.”

To achieve this TfL will make a Traffic Regulation Order to ban HGVs without cyclist safety equipment on its own roads, which carry about 45% of all HGV traffic in London (and are often red routes).

London Councils, the body that represents London’s 32 boroughs and which the Corporation of London and TfL also have representation on, plans to vote to enact its own traffic order in March, which would in affect make the ban pan-London.

London Councils is currently consulting separately on introducing a requirement for members of the London Lorry Control Scheme to fit cycle safety equipment, which would affect trucks over 18-tonnes in GVW.

However, the Safer Lorry Scheme would affect all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, which will be required to be “fitted with sideguards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels. It will also require them to be fitted with mirrors giving the driver a better view of cyclists and pedestrians around their vehicles”.

There is currently no more detail about exactly what mirrors will be required.

Enforcement will be via CCTV cameras and on-street checks, subject to approval by the Department for Transport.

London’s Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy CBE said: “London has long led the way in working with the freight industry to drive up standards, especially in terms of greater road safety, better driver training and reduced vehicle emissions.

“TfL will work with the London boroughs to deliver this proposed Safer Lorry Scheme and further demonstrate our commitment to safer roads for all.”

Best way forward?

In response the FTA said the scheme was neither the most targeted or effective course of action that could have been taken over cycle safety,

Christopher Snelling, FTA’s head of urban logistics policy, said: “These proposals will affect anything larger than a transit van and are not targeted, as we believe they should be, at construction traffic.

"Many large vans and small HGVs would in fact fall foul of other legislation if they fitted additional mirrors as their cabs are too low and pedestrians and cyclists would be at risk of being struck by these low mirrors.  This is the danger with politicians developing new standards without working with the industry.  Safety on the roads is a complex issue and politicians often reach for the simplistic solution.”

“This is not a cost free option, as it will cause many London businesses to incur more costs on a daily basis. There is no guarantee that these costs won’t increase in the future, and how politicians might decide to change or extend these powers at a later date.”

Snelling said the FTA believed the  that the best way forward on HGVs and cyclist safety is a more targeted approach than the kind of blanket regulations outlined in the proposed TfL scheme would allow.

“FTA considers that one of the best uses of TfL’s time and money would be to maintain a higher level of enforcement against poor quality HGV operators and we will recommend that approach to them in our response, he said.

“There is no one solution to the issue of cyclist safety.  Unless everyone involved takes intelligent action the problem will not improve as much as we all want.”