Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Leonid Bershidsky

Boris Johnson Is Wrong About Killer Trucks

The regulation he wanted from the EU wasn’t the answer to the problem of cyclist safety.

Making cycling safer.

Making cycling safer.

Photographer: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

In his trenchant resignation letter, former U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson recalled how, in his previous role as London mayor, he had tried to reduce the number of cyclist deaths from collisions with trucks but then found he could not because it was up to the EU to adopt the necessary safety regulations. This passage deserves more than a mere fact check, because the problem is far from unique to London — and it can’t be solved by a Johnson-style populist onslaught.

As anyone who cycles regularly to work (including Johnson, who did so as mayor) knows, motor vehicles are a source of mortal danger. Drivers are trained to look out for blind spots, but some forget, and large vehicles have larger blind spots. That’s why in Belgium, 43 percent of cycling fatalities are caused by trucks. In the U.K., that share is 33 percent, rising to 50 percent in London. It’s easy to see why any mayor would be worried.