Tips for safe cycling #4: Lorries
Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs), buses, trucks and coaches make up the smallest proportion of traffic on UK roads, yet are involved in the highest proportion of fatal collisions with cyclists. It’s a scary statistic, and one that is being addressed through safer lorry design and advanced training for drivers, as well as an Exchanging Places programme that puts cyclists behind the wheel and reveals how invisible bikes can be from inside the cab.
The best way to avoid collisions with lorries is to keep out of danger zones and blind spots. A driver’s blind spots are these:
However, infrastructure can be misleading. At a typical traffic-controlled junction in UK cities, there is an Advanced Stop Line (ASL), or bike box, for cyclists to use. This can be advantageous: it gives you a head start; it allows you better visibility of the junction; drivers can see you more easily. But it also encourages you into those places where the driver cannot see you. Most dangerous is the feeder-lane into the bike box. The worse place you can be at a junction is on the inside of a left-turning vehicle: this is the position from which you are most likely to be dragged beneath the wheels. But where is the cycle lane? On the left.
So cyclists riding up the inside of the lorry are not always doing it through lack of common sense. Poor infrastructure can hinder rather than help cyclists.
Large vehicles have limited visibility and limited manoeuvrability. Remember this as you ride among them. Turning and stopping requires effort. A good way to maintain your safety is eye contact: a driver who has seen you is very unlikely to collide with you. Also remember that in the UK, cyclists do not have right of way if a vehicle in front of you is turning.
Never go up the inside of a left-turning vehicle, and only pass a large vehicle if you are certain it is safe to do so.
There are safety tips and much more information on the London Cycling Campaign website