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Trucks and Cyclists in urban areas

Martin Reilly is one of Ireland’s most respected and experienced driver  trainers.

He served as an Advanced Driving Instructor with An Garda Síochána, holds  a National Diploma in Advanced Driving Instruction, an IOSH Certificate in Health & Safety and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

He also holds a Certificate in Public Relations from UCD and serves  as  the PR Representative with the Irish School of Motoring, with a view to increasing  the profile of professional driver training in Ireland.


“Today let’s talk about Trucks and Cyclists in urban areas.

This is often a topic drawing opinions from just about everybody, both positive and negative.

Let’s take a closer look.


More and more people are cycling in urban areas, especially now as the mornings and evenings are getting brighter.

Therefore, we must continue to take precautions in the areas of

  • A proper helmet. I have seen it countless times, both as an accident investigator and commuter cyclist. Helmets help save lives.
  • High-vis jackets. If you wear a high-vis jacket or clothing, you will give yourself a better chance of being seen and it may just save your life. No argument there.
  • Lights front and back. It’s the law, and it also helps you to stand out as a proper road use.
  • Leaving plenty of time to reach your destination. This can ensure:
    • No rushing and possibly taking chances with other road users.
    • Reduced stress and impatience
    • Actually enjoying the journey and having time to show some courtesy to other road users
  • Knowledge of, and the intention of implementing, the Rules of the Road.
    • Proper application of the Rule of the Road could save your life
    • You ensure you are in the correct position on the road in relation to other road users
    • You also give other road users enough information to plan around you
    • You give good example, especially to other cyclists, particularly inexperienced cyclists. 

Time and again we tell people, you cannot acount for other road users actions, but you can work at keeping yourself in a SAFE ZONE at all times, ensuring you are more prepared for any emerging hazard.

Other road users are entitled to use the road in an orderly fashion and we must play our part in this mass movement of metal.

Please please please be careful turning, stopping and moving off.

Cycle only in the direction traffic is obliged to on any particular road. Cycling on the footpath is not allowed. No matter how many others you see doing it without apparent incident.

Be courteous, patient and responsible. After all, cyclists are very exposed, and an impact with any other vehicle will result in YOU getting a fast lift to your local A&E or worse!!

Even an impact with a pedestrian will leave someone in a painful situation, and life is complicated enough without this happening to us.  

Be responsible and expect the unexpected.



Not since the truck was invented has there been more regulation, instruction, checks and balances, documents to be carried and awareness of other road users for truck drivers.

Some may say too much regulation exists for drivers.

However, as truck drivers we must be aware of our size within the confines of a lot of city streets designed for ornate horse drawn carriages of the Georgian period.

Junctions (usually turning left or right) present a clear danger to other road users, especially pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Trucks by their nature are large, long and have a ‘tail swing’ which can cut across your path as the truck turns left or right.

We must take this into account and hang back is the best advice. 

Truck drivers are acutely aware of this and take all precautions (mirrors, shoulder check, speed) when turning, moving off and stopping their vehicles.

Trucks in urban areas are usually delivering goods to retail or wholesale outlets and require space and time to achieve this function. Let’s make a point of giving them this space and time, after all, courtesy and patience is within us all, it just needs to get out.

Below we have layed out in detail the procedure for left turn from Westmoreland St onto Aston Quay in an Articulated vehicle with a close coupled three axle trailer.

Most of you can probably do this without thinking about it, but it is well worth your time to read through this procedure to see if there is anything your might be omitting from your drive. 

  • As you pass the junction with Fleet St to your left, you are travelling in the left hand lane as you know you have a left turn on to Aston Quay approaching.
  • Depending on traffic flow you will be travelling in 5th or 6th gear in an 8 speed range change gearbox.
  • Immediately after the junction with Fleet Street you will see several Bus Stops to the left of the lane you are travelling in.
  • Be aware of traffic slowing in front of you, turning left into Fleet St.
  • Check both mirrors, paying particular care to the LH mirror for cyclists, especially in slow moving traffic as cyclists may be travelling faster than you and are very likely to undertake you.
  • Maintain vigilance as you pass any parked buses for passengers alighting from between them as your view is very restricted.
  • Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front, particularly if it is a high sided vehicle (bus) as this will greatly impede your vision of the traffic movements ahead.
  • Again check you LH mirror as you pass each bus and be prepared to carry out an emergency stop in the event of a passenger running out from in front of a bus and possibly under the wheels of your traile
  • As you approach the final bus stop signal to your left.
  • As soon as you can safely do so, while checking your LH mirror move in ½ a lane to your left to straddle both lanes and cancel your signal.
  • Apply your brakes gently and re signal to the left to let traffic behind know that you are both slowing and turning left. Extreme vigilance is needed on your LH mirror for cyclists on your inside as you will have left them a 1.5 to 2 metre gap on your inside.
  • This road position is necessary to accommodate your manoeuvre on the acute angle of the junction with Aston Quay.
  • As you approach the actual junction you will block change (skip gears) to 4th gear in the low box. Be in the correct gear before the manoeuvre.
  • If traffic is very heavy and slow moving you will need to drop further gears to 3rd or even 2nd.
  • You need to check your RH mirror before you even commence your LH turn, to check that your trailers “tail swing” is not going to impact with any other traffic to your right.
  • This is also part of the reason why you straddle both lanes. To create a cushion of space around you. Be especially aware of cyclists overtaking you on the right who are attempting to share your lane.
  • Before you turn left you need to check your LH mirror and maintain a steady watch on that mirror with occasional glances to the front and to the RH mirror. This is necessary as the highest risk is on your LH side by the trailer axles.
  • As you begin to turn left you will feel an extra loading on the engine due to the drag as the three axles begin to be pulled out of their straight on alignment by the tractor unit.
  • Dependent on how heavily loaded you are, you may need slight acceleration just to maintain forward momentum.
  • This is the most dangerous point of this manoeuvre. You begin to lose sight of your trailer in the main mirror on your left and you instead focus on the LH convex (trailer) mirror. This gives a more all-encompassing view, but objects appear much further away that they are in reality.
  • Be very careful of cyclists attempting to overtake you on the actual apex of the turn, who are also turning onto Aston Quay but who are unaware that the trailer is going to “drag” to the left, thereby closing the gap that you had created to allow you to safely complete the manoeuvre.
  • Check your RH mirror again for tail swing and hazards (other traffic) passing you on your right.
  • You need to be aware that in order to safely complete the manoeuvre you will need to take control of both lanes on Aston Quay during the manoeuvre.
  • On completion of the manoeuvre you will finish in the LH lane on Aston Quay.
  • As you turn to the left, the right hand front shoulder of the trailer begins to prescribe a wider arc than the front of your tractor unit, including your mirror arm. If there are any street signs or traffic lights close to the edge of the right hand kerb of Aston Quay as you enter, you need to be cautious that the front of your trailer does nor impact them.
  • If you are coming close to a hazard on the right hand side with the front shoulder of the trailer, you need to increase the left hand lock on the tractor unit to pull the front of the trailer away from the hazard.
  • At this point you will begin to complete the manoeuvre and your trailer should begin to come back into alignment with the tractor unit.
  • Check the front LH corner of the trailer to ensure the Suzies have not become ensnared on the trailer during the manoeuvre. If this has happened you will need to stop as soon as it is safe to do so. Apply the handbrake and carefully alight from the vehicle to disentangle them. This MUST be dome prior to attempting a right hand turn as this will rip the Suzies from their connections and possibly cause your brakes to immediately lock up and also possibly loss of all electrics on your trailer.
  • The trailer will reappear in the main (big) mirror on the LH side and you will see objects more clearly again.
  • Check both mirrors again.
  • Provided the road is clear ahead and it is safe to do so, you can accelerate smoothly away from the junction and begin changing up through the gears but maintaining vigilance for cyclists, other road users and the 30kph speed limit.


Be responsible and expect the unexpected.

As always, be careful out there.”


Martin Reilly




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