A Safe New Design To Keep Trucks From Killing Cyclists

Cars and crashes aren’t the most dangerous things to bikers. The most dangerous are big trucks, which have little visibility and make wide turns and can be deadly on the road. This new design would make it easier for truck drivers to see bikers, and then not kill them.

Trucks are death traps for cyclists. In London, 50% of cyclist deaths are attributable to the hulking vehicles. Because they sit so high up, have such small side windows, and make wide turns, truck drivers often can’t even see the bicyclists they’re about to crush.


One reasonable solution is to design better bike lanes, but that’s not enough to fix the problem entirely. The London Cycling Campaign (LCC) flips the responsibility to truck drivers with its Safer Urban Lorry design–a truck model that’s safer for surrounding cyclists.

In London, construction trucks are an especially big problem for cyclists–they’re responsible for a high number of cyclist accidents in the city. So the LCC dissected and rebuilt that particularly dangerous kind of truck.

Today, the LCC’s blog explains, construction trucks prioritize “off-road convenience and site cost saving over safety. The high driving position encourages drivers to go faster and closer to other traffic; it doesn’t reduce danger.” The revamped truck eschews those priorities for design elements that look more like what you’d see on a London garbage truck.

Among the Safer Urban Lorry’s features: a lower driving position to improve driver awareness of cyclists (in normal trucks, cyclists can be virtually invisible); larger windscreen and side windows that clearly show the areas where cyclists are most likely to be; a lower clearance between the bottom of the truck and the ground to lower the cab’s height and seating (and also help ensure that cyclists are pushed to the side in a crash instead of going under the truck); and sideguards, which also make it more likely that cyclists won’t end up under the vehicle. The redesigned truck also has early warning cameras that provide a 360-degree view.

Keep in mind that this is just a concept for now. But as the Guardian points out, LCC has a track record of making change. The organization has already helped secure rules ensuring that freight companies can only get contracts with the city of London if drivers are trained to watch for cyclists and they have up-to-date safety equipment.

Convincing companies that are already pressed for fuel costs to redesign entire truck fleets won’t be easy. But at least now they have a blueprint for what they should be doing.


About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.