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Paul Neal, london lorry driver
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a London lorry driver

By
Danielle Goldstein
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…according to Paul Neal, 51.

City Hall used to be a lorry park

‘When you’re driving a vehicle that’s 30 feet long and weighs 32 tons, parking is a real issue. Years ago there used to be lorry parks in the centre of London. The mayor’s offices down by Tower Bridge, which I call the “glass testicle”, used to be one, and there were a few others dotted around. Now, when you go into central London, you can’t stop anywhere. You have to wait to get back to the yard to take your break.’

You can get up Park Lane much quicker than you can get down it

‘Park Lane has two different speed limits. It’s 30 miles an hour going south from Marble Arch to Hyde Park Corner and 40 miles an hour northbound. I have absolutely no idea why.’

HGV drivers know what it’s like to be a cyclist

‘The most important training for our new drivers at O’Donovan Waste Disposal is the Safe Urban Driving course. Trainee drivers spend the afternoon out on pushbikes on the roads around Tottenham. Some of them are very wobbly and nervous, which really brings home what it’s like out there.’

London’s Olympic legacy is helping to clean up the city’s air

‘The success of Team GB at the Olympics in 2012 really shone a light on cycling, and in turn our industry has had to change. People are calling for better visibility around drivers’ cabs, which we think will eradicate cyclist fatalities. Plus the government threw all this money into cycling, creating cycle lanes and introducing the Ultra Low Emission Zone [the ULEZ will come into force in 2020]. Updating our vehicles will come at a great cost to haulage companies, but it means we’ll all be able to breathe cleaner air.’

For more from London’s roads, discover the things you only know if you’re a black cab driver.

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