Prime minister David Cameron has asked Department for Transport (DfT) officials to look into restricting lorries in inner-city areas to improve road safety.
Mr Cameron is reported to have made the call after meeting with influential MPs on the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group and agreeing to consider the ways to improve road safety put forward by the committee.
These measures include banning lorries during peak hours as well as staggered light phasing at junctions, design improvements for HGVs including eliminating blind spots, improved enforcement of mandatory lorry safety features and improvements to roads and junction designs.
Committee member Ben Bradshaw MP, Tweeted: ‘Positive meeting with PM & @allpartycycling MPs at which he promised to look into our ideas to improve cycling safety.’
He also told the press: ‘Our 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.
‘Following our meeting (today), we will be meeting with the Transport Secretary to discuss the issues in more detail.’
The news follows a much greater emphasis on the role of HGVs in cycling deaths in recent years and a spate of cyclist fatalities involving lorries in London.
Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, who chairs the health select committee, has suggested there was a case for restricting lorries based on past casualties.
‘Six out of seven of the deaths in London have been women killed by construction lorries at junctions. It's so important that women are not deterred from cycling on safety grounds and there is far more that can be done to reduce the risks,’ she said.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) argued in response that there were a number of measures that would be more effective.
These include increased targeted enforcement against HGVs and drivers that do not comply with safety regulations in key areas such as London, improved road infrastructure, such as road surfaces and junctions.
Christopher Snelling, head of urban logistics at FTA, said: ‘Even a medium-sized lorry would have to be replaced with 10 vans – which means overall safety would not be improved, let alone the emissions and congestion consequences. It has to be remembered that we don’t choose to deliver at peak times on a whim – our customers need goods at the start of the working day.’
The FTA also called for ‘incentives from Government to make lorries with better visibility more available and commercially viable’ and for authorities to ease night-time restrictions like the London Lorry Control Scheme (that ends at 7am each morning).