Cambridgeshire cyclist ignores warnings... and just manages to brake before train speeds through

Near-miss train cyclist contacts police after video goes viral

by Sarah Barth   October 5, 2013  

Level crossing near miss Sep 2013 BTP YouTube still

A woman who narrowly avoided death when she attempted to ride across a level crossing in Cambridgeshire at the very moment a train sped through has contacted police after a video of the near-miss went viral on the internet.

The video released by British Transport Police shows the bike rider ignoring the lowered barrier on the left hand side of the crossing, as well as the warning lights. There's no sound on the video, but such crossings are also equipped with bells.

At the very last moment, the cyclist realised her peril, and slammed on her brakes. Luckily, they were working, and it was also her good fortune not to go over the handlebars. Wiping her brow, the cyclist moved over to the side of the road, no doubt shaken by the near miss.

A woman contacted British Transport Police on Thursday, and has made an appointment to speak to them in person on October 9.

The incident took place at Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire on Thursday 12 September and the video has been released in an effort to trace the woman as well as to highlight to others the danger of ignoring warnings at level crossings.

PC PC Matt Mildinhall of British Transport Police said: “The footage shows a woman approach the crossing around 6.30pm as the barriers are down. She passes through the barriers and onto the line before braking hard, just seconds before a train passes through.

He added: “We are very keen to speak to the woman in this footage and explain the danger she not only put herself in but others around the crossing at the time.”

A recent safety campaign from Network Rail called Track Tests highlighted research that found that one in three people believe they would hear an approaching train in sufficient time to get out of the way.

Network Rail's Richard Schofield said:  “This is one of the closest incidents of near miss we’ve seen. The person using the crossing not only didn’t hear the train but ignored the warning lights and barriers, putting her life, the lives of passengers and the train driver in danger.

“Warning systems at level crossings are there for a reason, to protect users from the railway. I hope the release of this footage will highlight the importance of following the safety advice at level crossings.”

In May last year, Network Rail launched a TV advert called See Track, Think Train to highlight the dangers of level crossings used by cyclists and pedestrians.

The same month, 34-year-old cyclist Phil Dawn from Kirkby-in-Ashfield died when he was struck by a train as he rode through a level crossing between Sutton Park and Mansfield railway stations in Nottinghamshire.

According to police, he was wearing headphones at the time. Network Rail has previously run a campaign fronted by the rapper Professor Green warning of the dangers of listening to music while negotiating level crossings.

However, the father of a teenage girl killed at a level crossing in Essex seven years ago, insisted that it was wrong to place all the responsibility on crossing users.

Chris Bazlinton, whose 14-year-old daughter Olivia was killed along with her 13-year-old friend Charlotte Thompson, told Sky News last year:  "The sighting at that time was appalling, you couldn't see anything, you couldn't hear anything.

"The maximum time you could see a train is three seconds from that position.

"They were both quite short and they couldn't possibly see anything so they just stepped out in front, and they were killed instantly."

Network Rail was fined £1 million as a result of breaches of safety legislation in connection with that incident. A footbridge has now been put in place, and the level crossing gates have automatic locking.

Last year, Network Rail announced a £130 million upgrade programme for level crossings, including:

A closure programme which will see 750 crossings removed from the network by April 2014. More than 600 had already been closed by October 2012

Replacing footpath crossings with footbridges

Installing warning lights as an additional safety measure at footpath crossings

A new schools programme – Rail Life – teaching both primary and secondary schoolchildren about how to stay safe when crossing the railway

Rolling out 10 more camera enforcement vans

Investing in new technology including obstacle detection lasers

Introducing new cost effective barriers to open crossings

Employing more than 100 new dedicated level crossing managers

Community safety managers who work closely with local groups, councils and schools to raise awareness.

 

64 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

b3nharris wrote:
surely barriers which only cover half the road are bordering on negligent? Network rail have as much responsibility to ensure that the crossing is as safe as possible.

Yet again someone on here trying to find fault with someone else when there is a cyclist involved At Wits End

You dont need double barriers on the road, we drive on the left so why put them on both sides ?

People know that when the barrier is down its not safe and if they ignore that then its their own stupid fault.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3034 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 9:08

18 Likes

stumps wrote:
b3nharris wrote:
surely barriers which only cover half the road are bordering on negligent? Network rail have as much responsibility to ensure that the crossing is as safe as possible.

Yet again someone on here trying to find fault with someone else when there is a cyclist involved At Wits End

You dont need double barriers on the road, we drive on the left so why put them on both sides ?

People know that when the barrier is down its not safe and if they ignore that then its their own stupid fault.

I agree Stumps. People don't need excuses made for them. Take responsibility for your own actions. It annoys me that so many cyclists seem to get tribal and one-sided when it comes to the rights and wrongs on the road. Many of us are not just cyclists, we are pedestrians, motorists, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters etc.

BUT - I do think that double barriers are a safer prospect which prevents this sort
of reckless behaviour..

I also think that part of the problem with barriers is that people don't trust them to be efficient. I used to do a run around my old town which took me over one and sometimes the barriers would be down for an inaudinate time. Sometimes not. But it raises the question how long will I have to wait ? Though I doubt more information would help because people just rtry to use it to make their own advantage.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1427 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 9:41

17 Likes

I used to work for Railtrack, Network Rails predecessor going to local rail committee's to discuss their concerns and wishes for the line along with the relevant train operators. On one occasion I had to defend the railway network because a young man had done the same thing (in a car) but was not so lucky.....

Not a nice thing to do when someone is dead because they ignored signs, bells and barriers.

Blackhound's picture

posted by Blackhound [458 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 10:00

21 Likes

stumps wrote:
b3nharris wrote:
surely barriers which only cover half the road are bordering on negligent? Network rail have as much responsibility to ensure that the crossing is as safe as possible.

Yet again someone on here trying to find fault with someone else when there is a cyclist involved At Wits End

You dont need double barriers on the road, we drive on the left so why put them on both sides ?

People know that when the barrier is down its not safe and if they ignore that then its their own stupid fault.

Yet another stupid post by you it seems.

Double barriers are needed on every level crossing.

Surely as a police officer as you claim to be, you'd support double barriers...

posted by northstar [1113 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 10:17

19 Likes

stumps wrote:
You dont need double barriers on the road, we drive on the left so why put them on both sides ?

Don't know about you, but when I'm walking I don't restrict myself to only using the left hand pavement.

posted by farrell [1712 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 10:27

25 Likes

Ok, so someone does something really stupid and ignores obvious safety warnings, and once again it's Stumpy's fault as he's a cop.

I despair.

I regularly use a railway crossing when going to one popular South London cycling facility. The barriers do seem to linger in the down position for some time. I've seen a few people crossing when the barriers are lowered as I wait impatiently in the queue, but I've never felt the need to rush across with them.

I know train drivers suffer a lot of psychological issues with regard to suicides and accidental deaths from crossing incidents that don't have such a happey ending as this one. A friend of mine used to work for BR (as it was then) and one of his jobs was to check whether a loco was safe to be moved after it'd hit someone. His description of having to crawl under a loco stopped on the rails and disentangle what was left of a human being from the drive system was rather graphic.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2449 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 10:44

9 Likes

So that's where the 'wipes forehead with relief' thing comes from then...

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [353 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 11:02

10 Likes

Ok lets get this straight i put comments on here because i want to and personally i dont give a flying fcuk what you, Northstar, think about me or my job but if you get your kicks from trying to be clever fill your boots mate because in the end you are only making yourself look stupid.

And to be honest i have been called a lot worse by people a lot better than you.

Farrell - do you honestly expect myself and others to believe that because there is only one barrier then the other side is safe ????

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3034 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 11:03

12 Likes

farrell wrote:
stumps wrote:
You dont need double barriers on the road, we drive on the left so why put them on both sides ?

Don't know about you, but when I'm walking I don't restrict myself to only using the left hand pavement.

Which means that if you're walking on the right hand pavement and you reach a level crossing where the half-barrier is down and the lights and bells are going you continue to walk on?

Of course you don't!

Or perhaps you do because you really are that stupid. D Oh

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [643 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 11:04

11 Likes

Jack Osbourne snr wrote:
Jeezuz Surprise

I sincerely hope she never gets a driving licence.

Where does it say she doesn't have one already?

posted by alexholt3 [52 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 12:28

23 Likes

Do you think she decided to turn back to get some fresh underwear?

posted by theove [3 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 12:46

19 Likes

I like how she didn't quite know what to do afterwards, from the massive adrenalin injection. Like Uran after his crash at the weekend.

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [500 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 13:18

19 Likes

As far as I am aware there is a rolling programme to replace single barriers with double barriers.

Perhaps in the meantime window lickers like the lady in the video should not be allowed out on their own.

posted by freespirit1 [206 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 14:08

23 Likes

Cooks wrote:
I like how she didn't quite know what to do afterwards, from the massive adrenalin injection. Like Uran after his crash at the weekend.

Uran knew exactly what to do. He finished the race. Back on topic, if a half barrier is good enough, why not dispense with barriers completely, and just have the stop lights?

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 14:11

27 Likes

freespirit1 wrote:
As far as I am aware there is a rolling programme to replace single barriers with double barriers.

Perhaps in the meantime window lickers like the lady in the video should not be allowed out on their own.

Window lickers - I like that one - very apt in her case.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2449 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 14:27

15 Likes

Natural selection in action!

southseabythesea's picture

posted by southseabythesea [109 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 14:35

18 Likes

This was on Jeremy Vine earlier. It gave the usual mouth-breathers the opportunity to roll out their hilarious generalisations despite Vine mentioning the fact that there were 50% more fatalities to car drivers/passengers than cyclists on level crossings last year.

posted by pwmedcraft [25 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 15:20

29 Likes

Was it Emma Way? I mean I know she IS a cyclist, and she has that amount of disregard for safety?

posted by Puncheur-David [16 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 16:11

23 Likes

OldRidgeback wrote:
Ok, so someone does something really stupid and ignores obvious safety warnings, and once again it's Stumpy's fault as he's a cop.

You're confusing two things! Maybe even three!

1. Yes, jumping that crossing was really stupid. I think almost everyone agrees.

2. But why aren't there full barriers at a crossing that fast/busy? Some quieter ones have them. Misprioritisation in the past?

3. It's Stumpy's fault he's thrashing around with the heavy I-Know-Best boots on again.

posted by a.jumper [771 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 16:43

16 Likes

stumps wrote:

People know that when the barrier is down its not safe and if they ignore that then its their own stupid fault.

Why have barriers at all when there are warning lights and sounds?

Because people are stupid. This woman was stupid. But we know people are stupid, so good health and safety builds human stupidity into its systems. It is negligent not to. The railway companies know this, which is why they are gradually removing and upgrading level crossings. Do you think they are wrong to do so?

That's not defending this cyclist. The previous posters didn't defend this cyclist. If anyone is having a knee-jerk reaction, I think it may just be you.

In fact, the idea that you need to build human stupidity into systems is the basis of the argument for segregated infrastructure.

posted by HKCambridge [204 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 16:46

19 Likes

HKCambridge wrote:
stumps wrote:

People know that when the barrier is down its not safe and if they ignore that then its their own stupid fault.

Why have barriers at all when there are warning lights and sounds?

Because people are stupid. This woman was stupid. But we know people are stupid, so good health and safety builds human stupidity into its systems. It is negligent not to. The railway companies know this, which is why they are gradually removing and upgrading level crossings. Do you think they are wrong to do so?

That's not defending this cyclist. The previous posters didn't defend this cyclist. If anyone is having a knee-jerk reaction, I think it may just be you.

In fact, the idea that you need to build human stupidity into systems is the basis of the argument for segregated infrastructure.

How may i ask am i having a knee jerk reaction when i say you dont need barriers across the whole road, or are you refering to my earlier post towards northstar which to be honest you will not know a jot about and quite frankly is none of your business.

I dont put comments on here to be lambasted by muppets (not you may i add) who seem quite keen to put down most of the things i say because of my occupation without a: knowing me and b: not having the slightest idea about what i do or how i do it.

In all honesty i think i will stick to commenting on the fantasy side only in the future because some of the people who comment here are no better than the dross i deal with on a daily basis. There are a lot who are informative and good craik but there are others who simply want to put down anything they dont agree with and try to trivialise other peoples opinions as though they know it all and everyone else is wrong.

I apologise to the majority of people who are well informed and polite as this is not directed towards them but i'm sure they know that already.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3034 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 18:26

19 Likes

It's a sad state of affairs that you have to write that 'Stumps' but Applause

Ignore the cock jockeys and carry on.

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [484 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 19:11

24 Likes

a.jumper wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:
Ok, so someone does something really stupid and ignores obvious safety warnings, and once again it's Stumpy's fault as he's a cop.

You're confusing two things! Maybe even three!

1. Yes, jumping that crossing was really stupid. I think almost everyone agrees.

2. But why aren't there full barriers at a crossing that fast/busy? Some quieter ones have them. Misprioritisation in the past?

3. It's Stumpy's fault he's thrashing around with the heavy I-Know-Best boots on again.

The rail crossing I go through regularly does have full width barriers as it happens. Even they don't stop the occasional moron who can't be bothered to wait and squeezes past or who lifts a bike over the top, and yep, I've seen both. Some people really are that stupid. I dislike waiting at railway crossings like everyone else. But after hearing my friend's description of picking bits of human flesh from the brakes of a locomotive, I'd rather wait albeit impatiently all the same.

Stumpy gets a lot of flak on here and I find it wearing, as I'm sure others do too. I've been the victim of a troll on this website and stayed away for quite a long time because of that. It isn't nice. It isn't clever. It's just unpleasant. I'm fed up of keyboard vigilantes with something to prove and who think that they can say what they like as the Internet gives them anonymity.

I'm not aiming that last at you by the way. I don't know who you are. But there are others who post on this website who certainly need to consider what they say.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2449 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 19:18

23 Likes

cidermart wrote:
It's a sad state of affairs that you have to write that 'Stumps' but Applause

Ignore the cock jockeys and carry on.

+1

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2449 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 19:19

17 Likes

Maybe she just thought "I'm a cyclist....that red light doesn't apply to me."

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [136 posts]
3rd October 2013 - 21:44

24 Likes

stumps wrote:
Farrell - do you honestly expect myself and others to believe that because there is only one barrier then the other side is safe ????

Obviously nobody would ever think that.

Nobody.

Ever.

Except the person that is the reason for this thread and several others that have been cleaned out attempting such things.

jova54 wrote:
Or perhaps you do because you really are that stupid. D Oh

I've no idea who lobbed a peanut your way, but yes, I am that stupid. In fact, I was killed on a level crossing only three weeks ago, I've just come back to haunt you.

posted by farrell [1712 posts]
4th October 2013 - 2:49

21 Likes

posted by freespirit1 [206 posts]
4th October 2013 - 20:14

16 Likes

The half-barrier design is there to provide that escape route if a car stalls or other problem occurs but puts a major obstruction in the way for going on to the crossing.

NR got fined (Section 3 HSAW - Duty of Care towards non-employees) at Elsenham because the the pedestrian gates were not interlocked with main barriers, and the issue of pedestrian abuse was known about but not addressed.

The death at Little Mill and 2 other cyclist deaths investigated by RAIB all had clear indication that the cyclists had switched off their 24/7 360 degree safety equipment - in the case referred to the cyclist had passed 2 walkers with hood up and audible music to the 2 walkers. They shouted at the cyclist to stop as they arrived at the crossing immediately behind him, but the cyclist gave no reaction to being shouted at, the noise of a train making a full emergency brake application, and sounding the horn full blast. If that doesn't clearly show the total stupidity of using any form or earphones, or other elements to block your hearing when cycling, walking AND driving then maybe we do need a law to make all drivers drive with a window down and radio/phone speakers at a low volume.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [531 posts]
5th October 2013 - 21:32

20 Likes

I've heard similar stories to your friend's, Old Ridgeback, from a guy who was running a track walking training course I was attending. The tale of the suicide who put his neck on the track and was beheaded would make your toes curl. Personally I think the railways get too much flak over level crossings. The warning signs, flashing lights, barriers and what is stated in the highway code about level crossing should deter people enough from doing this sort of stupid behaviour.

posted by sam_smith [51 posts]
6th October 2013 - 3:15

17 Likes

Where's Darwin when you need him?

andrew streit

posted by andrew streit1 [26 posts]
6th October 2013 - 10:33

14 Likes