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Officers now considering whether to take action against 26-year-old woman who ignored barriers at Cambridgeshire station last month

A Cambridge woman who came within inches of death when she ignored barriers and warning lights to ride her bike through a level crossing as a speeding train approached has been interviewed by police.

Officers from British Transport Police are now considering what action to take against the 26-year-old whose actions risked her own life as well as those of passengers on the train, reports the BBC.

Following the incident at Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire on 12 September, police posted the video on YouTube in an attempt to find the woman and to warn the public of the dangers of misusing level crossings.

The video, which showed the woman ignoring the barrier covering the left-hand carriageway then braking hard as she realised her danger, was made private on YouTube after she came forward last week.

Train operator Greater Anglia says that the driver of the train had to apply the emergency brake as a result of the near-miss at the crossing, where up to 100 trains pass each day.

A BTP spokesman said that such incidents were “extremely rare,” although there have been a total of 70 reported incidents at level crossings in Cambridgeshire alone during 2013.

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.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

30 comments

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wildoo [34 posts] 2 years ago
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I wonder if she has stopped shitting her pants yet?

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shearer27 [23 posts] 2 years ago
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Ignorant and thick - deserves everything she's got coming to her!

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big mick [183 posts] 2 years ago
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All the cost in this story just put a bridge over job done  7

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Blackhound [438 posts] 2 years ago
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But who pays for the bridges built due to people's stupidity? NR according to the article are already shelling out £130m and that is not all the footpath level crossings. In the end the cost will fall to the taxpayer or possibly the fare paying passenger.

No idea how much a road bridge would cost but there are a lot of LX's out there, ~400 in Wales alone.

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Mart [110 posts] 2 years ago
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Some of the level crossings in Sussex can be down for 10 min or so, especially when waiting for 3 trains in succession. So I can understand frustration if they close as you approach them.
She very stupid and very lucky and I'm guessing she'll not be doing that again.

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freespirit1 [224 posts] 2 years ago
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What are the BTP considering?

There is a case for without due care, cycling furiously and trespass on a railway. All too indicative of Plod's refusal to use the law's and powers they already have to control driver's cyclists, motorcyclists and any user of wheeled transport.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 2 years ago
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Chuck the book at her, she's asked for it!
It's idiots like her that give cyclists a bad name.

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sm [379 posts] 2 years ago
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I imagine she has suffered enough. Both in fright and shame. She's the poster girl for idiots the world over and she should give permission for foolishness to be used in educational videos.

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CotterPin [63 posts] 2 years ago
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I would agree. I imagine she has learnt her lesson and nothing the police could do would come close to what nearly happened to her.

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fatty [77 posts] 2 years ago
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She hasn't suffered enough. She should be fined for being so utterly stupid and made an example of. Then we won't have to spend millions of pounds building bridges so feckless idiots like her can carry on being feckless idiots. Rant...

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NorthEastJimmy [56 posts] 2 years ago
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You guys are being a bit pathetic getting that angry about it! She's made a mistake and come forward about it. Everyday I see people making stupid mistakes on the road to save a few seconds. If everyone was captured on video and it was plastered all over the news and internet, people would be calling bloody murder...just because it's been highlighted.

Seriously...get a life.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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I knew this would happen, typical police, she should have kept quiet, they can't be trusted.

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beardmidget [5 posts] 2 years ago
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If I had a quid for the number of times a driver ran through a just red light and put me in jeopardy (down in Sydenham where by-the-way I passed the aftermath of a nasty cyclist hurt, driver at fault accident just this morning) I'd be a rich man, but frankly nobody gives a Jeremy Hunt about it...

This woman clearly feels quite foolish, and they're looking to drag up arcane laws to punish her.

Just prosecute dangerous drivers to the proper and measured extent of the law and I'd hardly mind so much.

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MartyMcCann [230 posts] 2 years ago
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If she had been driving a car and done something similar would people still be saying that she has suffered enough? She not only put herself at risk but also those on the train since the driver had to apply the emergency brakes- sorry but we can't get all wound up about drivers getting off with stupidity and then making excuses for someone on a bike.

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Ush [675 posts] 2 years ago
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NorthEastJimmy wrote:

You guys are being a bit pathetic getting that angry about it! She's made a mistake and come forward about it. Everyday I see people making stupid mistakes on the road to save a few seconds. If everyone was captured on video and it was plastered all over the news and internet, people would be calling bloody murder...just because it's been highlighted.

Seriously...get a life.

Agreed. She should be left to get on with drawing whatever lesson she can from it. I'd imagine she had enough fear and shame.

Be glad she's riding a bike instead of driving a car.

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a.jumper [846 posts] 2 years ago
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All part of the network rail spin campaign to get the council to pay for an upgrade.

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thebungle [103 posts] 2 years ago
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fatty wrote:

She hasn't suffered enough. She should be fined for being so utterly stupid and made an example of. Then we won't have to spend millions of pounds building bridges so feckless idiots like her can carry on being feckless idiots. Rant...

Really?

I mean, really?

Perhaps my sarcasm radar has had a serious malfunction but just what example do you propose making of her?

What do you think is less likley to do this again, an £80 fine or the fact that she nearly lost her life?

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Neil Smith 48 [18 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm glad she wasn't hit and I hope the driver has got over the shock!

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Aapje [242 posts] 2 years ago
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Otis Bragg wrote:

If she had been driving a car and done something similar would people still be saying that she has suffered enough? She not only put herself at risk but also those on the train since the driver had to apply the emergency brakes- sorry but we can't get all wound up about drivers getting off with stupidity and then making excuses for someone on a bike.

That is just utter nonsense. Trains are so heavy and the brakes are so poor (relatively speaking) that the chance of severe injuries to the people on the train is very, very small. Realistically speaking, if she wouldn't have stopped in time, the accident would be traumatizing to the train driver and the people having to clean up the scene.

Right now there are no victims nor can she learn any more lessons that a near death experience won't have taught. So what would prosecuting her actually achieve?

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OldRidgeback [2616 posts] 2 years ago
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sm wrote:

I imagine she has suffered enough. Both in fright and shame. She's the poster girl for idiots the world over and she should give permission for foolishness to be used in educational videos.

Yep, couldn't agree more. Fining her won't teach her the lesson she's already learnt. The police should give her a warning and leave it at that, on the condition that she gives permission for the video to be used in media campaigns showing exactly why going through barriers at rail crossings is so stupid.

Like everyone else I get frustrated having to wait at crossings and I can be as impatient as your average BMW driver. That doesn't mean I'd run the risk of crossing one of these things when the barriers are down. And knowing how my friend had to pick human remains from the underside of a locomotive as part of his old job on the railway, I know also how traumatic that can be for those left to clear up after.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1191 posts] 2 years ago
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The thing about the 'bridge' suggestion is that some of these level crossings have been there for, what, a century or so? And you can be stuck waiting at them for up to 20 minutes in my experience.

So how much productivity has been lost, and time wasted, due to pedestrians (and cyclists) hanging around at them over all these decades? I suspect that at least for the busier ones that would pay for the cost of a footbridge many times over, hence it would have been a sensible investment to have built bridges at those in the first place!

The problem, I suppose, is making the economics of it work, as the cost of building it isn't paid directly by those who would be using it (maybe a toll bridge with a turnstyle! how much is your time worth?)

For cars the economics might be different, as the bridge itself would be a much bigger investment, but it might still make sense.

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mr-andrew [300 posts] 2 years ago
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I would hope that if they insist on taking things further that she gets nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Knowing how these things really work I wouldn't be at all surprised to see her get a larger sentence than some drivers who kill cyclists.

She did something stupid and luckily no one was hurt. She didn't endanger anyone else and that is really the most important thing.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1191 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah - they could install a footbridge with a turnstyle! In London at least it could be controlled by swiping your oyster card so no need to collect cash! 5p to cross!

Also, for cyclists you don't need a complete bridge - just a nice ramp on either side. Get up sufficient speed...

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 2 years ago
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I would be unhappy if this cyclist is fined or incurs any other kind of penalty or conviction. How many car drivers get fined for passing cyclists very close at speed? Just as dangerous, and a danger to others, not themselves.

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Pondo [19 posts] 2 years ago
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mr-andrew wrote:

She didn't endanger anyone else and that is really the most important thing.

Well - she did, didn't she? What if she didn't manage to stop? The train had to do an emergency stop, which must be an injury risk for people on board. If she hadn't stopped, as well as the danger to herself, there's the psychological damage it would have caused the driver and bystanders, as well as the risk of bits of bike and person being fired away from the train hitting people, and heaven forbird someone tried to stop her and mistimed their grab or leap. I don't think you can say no-one was at risk by virtue of the fact no-one got hurt.

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Aapje [242 posts] 2 years ago
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Pondo wrote:
mr-andrew wrote:

She didn't endanger anyone else and that is really the most important thing.

Well - she did, didn't she? What if she didn't manage to stop? The train had to do an emergency stop, which must be an injury risk for people on board. If she hadn't stopped, as well as the danger to herself, there's the psychological damage it would have caused the driver and bystanders, as well as the risk of bits of bike and person being fired away from the train hitting people, and heaven forbid someone tried to stop her and mistimed their grab or leap. I don't think you can say no-one was at risk by virtue of the fact no-one got hurt.

Emergency train stops are like braking with your feet. Passengers in trains get hurt when the train hits something very big and heavy (like another train) or derails, not during emergency stops or when hitting a tiny little bike or a slightly less tiny car. The difference in mass is enormous.

Secondly, during an accident, the bits go in the direction the train is moving to, perpendicular to the road. This is not typically a spot where bystanders are. The chance of such an accident killing or injuring anyone but her is really very low.

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a.jumper [846 posts] 2 years ago
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Aapje wrote:

Secondly, during an accident, the bits go in the direction the train is moving to, perpendicular to the road. This is not typically a spot where bystanders are. The chance of such an accident killing or injuring anyone but her is really very low.

That's not true at the Waterbeach station level crossing. You can see the platform entrance penalty tickets notice on the bottom left in the picture above and I think you can see the Way Out sign in the video. She and her bike may well have been knocked along the platform at speed, probably injuring any waiting passengers. That's part of the reason I'm astonished it's an automatic half-barrier crossing. Smaller stations further north on that line have full barriers.

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fatty [77 posts] 2 years ago
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British Transport Police already release CCTV footage of people doing reckless things on railway crossings to educate other people. These ‘examples of’ help people realise the importance of the laws that are in place to stop people getting killed, or killing others. Therefore, the British Transport Police are either doing something sensible and educational (by using examples of what not to do, and enforcing laws), or they too need to ‘get a life’, as I was 'advised' earlier. As for fining the woman in question here, if she broke law(s) then enforce the law(s) and apply the sanctions, otherwise why bother with the law(s)?! If all she needs is a caution then no problem – the Police will know what to do. The fine/caution isn’t the deterrent, it’s the law in action, she’s worked out the deterrent on her own when she nearly died! To her credit though, she has been brave coming forward and has undoubtedly learnt a very intense lesson to say the least – I doubt she’ll do it again. She should be able to go home anonymously and happily because she’s still alive. Good luck to her, I don’t wish her any ill fortune, but I’m still staggered by her reckless actions…

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
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Agreed your point on red lights being run. If I was a politician I'd have every traffic light with cameras on it. This would pay for the rail bridges for stupid people who deserve to feature in the Darwin awards.

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jgmccabe [7 posts] 2 years ago
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Mart wrote:

Some of the level crossings in Sussex can be down for 10 min or so, especially when waiting for 3 trains in succession. So I can understand frustration if they close as you approach them.
She very stupid and very lucky and I'm guessing she'll not be doing that again.

I used to live in Liss in Hampshire where there's a level crossing in the middle of the village. My house was probably 50-100 yards from there but there have been occasions when I've found myself on the wrong side of it while it's been down for up to 15 minutes. That's totally ridiculous.

On the other hand, in relation to the crossing mentioned in this story, I heard a reporter on the radio talking about it; from the start of the warning to the gates going back up after the train went through (at least, while he was there) was around 30 seconds! So, really, there was probably no excuse other than complete idiocy for this behaviour.