‘There is safety in numbers’: Parents of cyclist killed by truck driver call for ‘more people cycling’ and safer infrastructure, describing intersection crash as ‘an accident waiting to happen’

‘There is safety in numbers’: Parents of cyclist killed by truck driver call for ‘more people cycling’ and safer infrastructure, describing intersection crash as ‘an accident waiting to happen’

The parents of Emma Burke Newman, a cyclist who was killed after she was hit by a lorry driver and dragged for more than 50 meters in Glasgow, have encouraged more people to take up cycling as part of a “virtuous cycle” to make roads safer, amid a wider campaign calling for safer infrastructure and increased… Awareness of road users at risk from motorists.

On Thursday, HGV driver Paul Mowat, 69, was sentenced to 100 hours of unpaid community work under police supervision and banned from driving for 12 months after admitting driving without due care and attention or without reasonable regard for other people who They use the road. This follows the collision that claimed the life of cyclist Emma, ​​a 22-year-old French-American student studying architecture at Glasgow School of Art, in January last year.

Footage played at Glasgow Sheriff Court showed lorry driver Mowat, along with another bus driver, driving beyond the advance stop line (ASL) at a set of traffic lights at the intersection of Brommelaw and Oswald Streets on the King George V Bridge in Glasgow.

Emma can then be seen moving into lane one, passing Mowat’s truck, which had its windshield and mirrors dirty at the time, on the near side. However, as they both drove off, Mowat turned left, striking the cyclist’s pannier rack, causing her to fall and dragging her under the truck for a distance of 53 metres. The 22-year-old was taken to hospital, where she died the next morning from her injuries.

> HGV driver sentenced to community prison for running over and killing 22-year-old cyclist who was waiting at a red light

Following Mowat’s sentencing this week, Emma’s parents, Rosemary Burke and John Newman, said the intersection where her daughter was killed was “an accident waiting to happen” and that they are currently working with Glasgow City Council to create safer infrastructure in the area. .


King George V Bridge, Glasgow (Google Maps)

“When I first saw the intersection, I thought this was an accident waiting to happen,” Emma’s mother, Rose, said.

“This was bound to happen, and in fact, I think GoBike, as early as 2019, made it clear to Glasgow City Council how dangerous this intersection was, and nothing was done.

“We are working with the council and are pleased that perhaps by this time next year, there will be a safer intersection with a dedicated cycle path.”

Rose added that she had noticed many problems with Glasgow’s active travel infrastructure, but some progress in recent months had made some intersections safer.

John and Rose are also urging motorists to pay more attention to vulnerable road users, especially at designated access points or cycle boxes, and give cyclists space to ride through junctions safely.

“The driver took Emma’s safe space and caused a fatal accident,” Rose said. “We want the roads to be safer. Not just for cyclists, but for drivers as well. No driver wants to be on that sidewalk.”

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They also point out that encouraging more people to cycle is key to making roads safer for people on bikes, and this “virtuous cycle” is central to their campaign in the wake of Emma’s death.

“We would encourage people, if they are interested in safer roads, to join their local cycling club, Cycling UK or GoBike,” Rose said.

“Emma lived in Shawlands and there is a Shawlands Cycle Bus, so we hope to join them one day.

“We want people to ride bikes because there is safety in numbers. The more people there, the safer it is. It’s such a virtuous cycle, that’s our vision, that’s what we hope for.”

> A campaign for safer intersections has been launched in Glasgow following the death of a cyclist – and is calling on local road users to share their experiences

Reflecting on Emma’s death, and the revelation in court that lorry driver Mowat held her daughter’s hand and reassured her in the moments after the accident, Rose added: “This brings some comfort. I was touched that he held my daughter’s hand and spoke to her. That was the first time I heard that.” .

“But nothing can bring our daughter back. It’s been terrible. It turns your life upside down. There’s no closure.”

“I’m going to live with this for the rest of my life and I have to learn how to deal with it. It’s just that all the worry and worry about criminal proceedings will go away.”

Emma’s father, John, said: “Our lives have become much smaller, less bright, less joyful and, frankly, more stressful.”

“There are still civic avenues to follow, and then there will be political avenues to follow to support better cycling infrastructure and raise awareness, so this was just the first stage of many.

“The criminal phase is over. But it’s not over yet. There’s a lot to do. And we feel we have to do it.”

> Parliament’s pedal has gone local as activists across Scotland protest poor infrastructure

This is not the first time Emma’s parents have called for safer infrastructure and increased awareness of cyclists by motorists since their daughter’s death in January 2023.

Last April, they called on all political parties to support the adoption of “best practice infrastructure”, as well as other safety measures to better protect cyclists. In a blog post published on the Pedal on Parliament website, Emma’s parents wrote that the symbolism of the death of their daughter, a young rider who “dedicates herself to making cities safer and more beautiful for everyone,” was “extremely painful.”

The architectural practice where Emma works also launched a campaign calling for safer intersections in Glasgow last year, asking cyclists, pedestrians and local drivers to share their experiences and help collect data at the sites in question.

In response to Emma’s parents’ campaign, a Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the conviction and sentence of the driver in this tragic case.

“Following investigation, police have indicated to us that there are no road issues at the intersection that require addressing by the council.

“However, as part of wider work to enhance active travel infrastructure along the Bromelaw, we are currently working to improve the intersection at King George V Bridge. These proposed improvements will include separate cycling lanes and a dedicated stage at traffic lights for active travel and the work is scheduled to be completed in Later this year.

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