How to cycle safely near an HGV

I’ve never really got a handle on putting people into categories. We don’t say ‘oh yes, Emma she’s a car driver’, or ‘I know him, he’s a pedestrian!’. So whilst it’s easy to label people as “cyclists”, they are in fact just normal people, going about their day to day business like you and I.

They’re mums and dads, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, partners, friends, lovers, colleagues and neighbours, who just happen to ride a bicycle.

We ALL need to know how to cycle safely near an HGV

Truck on the road

Over the last few months, the media has been awash with dreadful stories of accidents involving cyclists and goods vehicles, so it’s important that all cyclists know how to react when they find themselves sharing the road with an HGV.

Whilst a lot of the media coverage has focused on London, it’s not just those who commute daily through central London that need to be aware.

It’s all of us who may at just one single, fateful, moment in our lives find ourselves on a bike pulling up at a junction next to a HGV.

It could be during a weekend ride out with the kids.

Maybe there’s an HGV making a delivery on your usually quiet route to school or work. It might be collection day for refuse and recycling. Perhaps you hire bikes on holiday and suddenly find yourself on a busier than usual road. It can happen – any time, any place.

Don’t forget to tell the kids

And it’s our children who need to know too. Maybe they’re already old enough to head out on their own, or perhaps it’s a decade away, but it’s crucial that as soon as they’re ready to ride alone they’re aware of how to ride around HGV’s.

This new film produced for the Metropolitan Police helps to show the problems that HGV drivers have seeing cyclists, and explains what we can all do to avoid tragedy.  It only takes 4 minutes to watch, but it could be the best 4 minutes you ever spend.

So, if you only learn one thing today, it’s that if you position yourself in front of, or to the left hand side of a lorry, then assume the driver can’t see you.

And remember that if you’re pulling a trailer or tagalong, then the driver might be able to see you, but they may not have seen the precious load you’re pulling.

Surely my kids are safe from HGV’s if we use cycle lanes?

If you watched the film, you will have noticed that the two things deemed most dangerous (riding down the left hand side of the lorry, and stopping in front of it) are the two places you and your kids will end up if you use cycle lanes and advance stop lines at junctions.

How to cycle safely near an HGV - cycle lanes and advance stop lines may put you and your family in danger

So, just because you and your family are using cycle lanes, don’t assume you are safe – you are not.

Is it possible to cycle safely near to HGV’s?

You’ll notice in the film that the police officer says “we know what causes ………..”.

I disagree with him on that point – it’s the fact that HGV’s and cyclists are forced to share the same narrow piece of tarmac that causes these fatalities. Thankfully, it is possible to create a transport infrastructure where HGV’s and cyclists can both go safely about their business.

If you pop over to As Easy as Riding a Bike’s blog “Mixing it with lorries – Dutch Style” you’ll see some fabulous photos.

To think these pictures were taken a short ferry journey from our shores is staggering, and shows what can be done when the political and economic will is there.

So, why not show the photos of cycling ‘Netherlands style’ to your child.  If enough kids see that there is another way of doing things, then perhaps there’s hope for the future.

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