Mayor claims UK government is risking cyclists’ lives by opposing change in EU lorry design rules

Boris Johnson BW

London mayor Boris Johnson has hit out at the government for risking “hundreds of lives” after it rejected moves to tighten regulations on lorry design to make them safer for cyclists.

Johnson’s cycling tsar Andrew Gilligan is in Brussels to lobby Euro MPs and the European Commission to amend the existing EU directive on lorry design to combat driver blind spots.

He has been joined by representatives from 130 other European cities, including Madrid, Amsterdam and Copenhagen, along with representatives of the haulage industry and campaigners including Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman in calling on MEPs and the European Commission to amend the current EU directive on lorry design.

The campaigners say that cab fronts need to be modified to ensure they have larger windows and windscreens, thereby giving drivers’ greater visibility and cutting cycling deaths and accidents in the process.

According to the Greater London Authority, of the 16 cyclist deaths in London in 2011, nine involved heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). Of these nine, seven were construction lorries.

Johnson said: “This is a once-in-a-decade opportunity for the EU to remove some of the blockages which prevent us from making lorries safer in our cities.

“If these amendments, supported by dozens of cities across Europe, can succeed, we can save literally hundreds of lives across the EU in years to come. I am deeply concerned at the position of the British government and urge them to embrace this vital issue.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We share the mayor’s concerns about the potential benefits of improved cab design and we want to see changes in the industry.

“Where we are not supporting European Parliament proposals, it is simply because they will not produce practical changes in cab design and could lead to additional bureaucracy for Britain.”

The spokesperson added: “It is vital we do all that we can to protect cyclists from HGVs, which is why we launched the HGV Task Force with Transport for London to target dangerous drivers, vehicles and operators.

“We are reviewing exemptions to current HGV safety regulations and are pressing the European Commission to introduce urgent changes to requirements for mirrors on HGVs.”