The cyclist who was the subject of footage released by Network Rail recently has given her explanation of how she came to end up trapped between the barriers at a level crossing in West Sussex.
A joint Network Rail and British Transport Police mobile CCTV van was watching for motorists jumping the lights when it captured footage of a female cyclist ducking under the lowering barrier at the Roundstone level crossing in East Preston. She was then unable to get past the barrier on the opposite side and found herself trapped.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous because of her job, told the Littlehampton Gazette that she hadn’t tried to squeeze through deliberately.
“I have a condition called dyspraxia which often inhibits my coordination and means the processing-gap between thinking something and doing it is a lot larger than it would be for most people.
“I don’t drive – thankfully – as this would probably make me a danger to pedestrians and other motorists. After many years of physio and occupational therapy I’m much improved. However on mornings such as the one in question (I was at that point seven days into a nine-day week) my reaction times are extremely slow.
“Despite what the footage may suggest, I did attempt to brake when I found myself within a metre of the crossing as the barrier was coming down. But to make matters even worse my right brake failed and I sped through regardless. If I appear to duck it’s only for fear of being hit in the process.
“I’m eternally grateful to the signal controller for raising the barrier when he did as I was generally fearing for my life.”
Following the incident, the woman contacted the police to explain and also got in touch with her local bike shop to get her brake cables tightened.
She said the police accepted she had not intended to run the lights, but said social media criticism of her actions had hit her hard.
“Enduring a mini panic-attack every time I hear the level-crossing siren is punishment enough for my lapse of concentration without feeling the stares of those I don’t even know on my way to and from work.
“It sounds drastic to say I might have to move, but when you’re new to an area it can be quite hard to fit into a community that doesn’t know you but wants your head on a spike.”
She added: “I accept that cyclists have a responsibility to remain awake, alert and in full control of their wheels for the safety of all road-users and will take steps to ensure I’m never put in a similar position.”