A ban on heavy goods vehicles in central London is long overdue

The Guardian’s bike blog recently drew much needed attention to calls for a ban on heavy goodvehicles (HGVs) in central London. In particular it highlights a London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) study that shows HGVs are involved with 43 per cent of cycling deaths in London but only account for 4 per cent of traffic. It’s an appalling statistic made worse when you consider a British Medical Journal study reached similar conclusions way back in 1994.

A ban is being considered by the Mayor who recently claimed at a People’s Question Time event that banning trucks from central London would “stop polluting heavy goods vehicles travelling through London and make a real difference”.

103 out of 242 deaths of cyclists between 1992 and 2006 involved HGVs, and this is not the only way that HGVs are harmful. HGVs make a significant contribution to London’s air pollution. A recent study showed that London’s poor air quality results in a further 4,300 premature deaths a year.

Stopping trucks from entering central London would help keep out the worst polluters. According to Mayor’s air quality strategy, HGVs in London are responsible for almost 15 per cent of airborne particles (PM10) and 10 per cent of nitrogen dioxide emissions, two harmful pollutants.

An increasing number of people ride bikes in London for health and environmental reasons. This is to be applauded, but it also needs to be properly supported so that cyclists and all Londoners can feel safer and will be less exposed to harmful pollutants. Banning HGVs from London would make a massive contribution to improving Londoner’s health and should be considered as the first real step to the Mayor’s “cycling revolution” in London.

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