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“There's safety in numbers”: Parents of cyclist killed by lorry driver call for “more people to get on bikes” and safer infrastructure, branding crash junction “an accident waiting to happen”

Emma Burke Newman’s parents have urged motorists to pay more attention to vulnerable road users, including by staying clear of bike boxes, after a HGV driver was given 100 hours of community work for the cyclist’s death

The parents of Emma Burke Newman, a cyclist killed after being hit and dragged for over 50 metres by a lorry driver in Glasgow, have encouraged more people to ride bikes as part of a “virtuous cycle” to make the roads safer, amid a broader call for safer infrastructure and more awareness of vulnerable road users by motorists.

On Thursday, 69-year-old HGV driver Paul Mowat was sentenced to 100 hours of unpaid community work under police supervision and banned from driving for 12 months after admitting to driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road, following the collision that killed cyclist Emma, a 22-year-old American-French 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, encroach beyond an Advanced Stop Line (ASL) at a set of traffic lights at the junction of Broomielaw and Oswald Street on Glasgow’s King George V Bridge.

Emma can then be seen moving into the first lane, passing Mowat’s lorry, the windscreen and mirrors of which were dirty at the time, on the nearside. However, as they both set off, Mowat turned left, hitting the cyclist’s pannier rack, causing her to fall and dragging her under the lorry for 53 metres. The 22-year-old was rushed to hospital, where she died the following morning from her injuries.

> HGV driver given community sentence for running over and killing 22-year-old cyclist waiting at red light

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

King George V Bridge, Glasgow (Google Maps)

“When I first saw the junction, I thought ‘this is an accident waiting to happen’,” Emma’s mother Rose said, the Glasgow Times reports.

“This was bound to happen, and in fact GoBike, I think as early as 2019, pointed out to Glasgow City Council how dangerous that junction was, and nothing had been done.

“We’re working with the council and we’re happy that maybe by this time next year, there’s going to be a much safer junction put in place with a dedicated cycle lane.”

Rose added that she has noticed numerous problems with Glasgow’s active travel infrastructure, but that some progress in recent months has made certain junctions safer.

John and Rose are also urging motorists to pay more attention to vulnerable road users, particularly at ASLs or bike boxes, and to give cyclists space to ride through junctions safely.

“The driver took away Emma’s safe space and caused a fatal accident,” Rose said. “We want the roads to be safer. Not even just for cyclists, but drivers too. No driver wants to be in that dock.”

> "Society has accepted death as a cost of getting from A to B": Parents of young cyclist killed in Glasgow collision call for change

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

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

“Emma lived in Shawlands, and there’s the Shawlands Bike Bus so we hope to join them one day.

“We want people to get on bikes because there’s safety in numbers. The more people that are out there, the safer it will become. It’s like this virtuous cycle and that’s our vision, that’s what we hope for.”

> Campaign launched for safer junctions in Glasgow after cyclist’s death – 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 crash, Rose added: “This does bring some comfort. I was touched that he held my daughter’s hand and spoke to her. That was the first time I heard this.

“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 have to learn how to deal with it. It’s just that all of the anxiety and worry about the criminal proceedings will be over.”

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

“There are still civil avenues to pursue and then there will be political avenues to pursue in support of better cycling infrastructure and more awareness, so this was just the first phase of many.

“The criminal phase is over. But it’s not over. There’s so much more to do. And we feel like we have to do it.”

> Pedal on Parliament goes local as campaigners across Scotland protest against poor infrastructure

This isn’t the first time that Emma’s parents have called for safer infrastructure and more awareness of cyclists by motorists since their daughter’s death in January 2023.

Last April, they called for all political parties to support the adoption of “best-practice infrastructure”, as well as other safety measures to better protect cyclists. Writing in a blog post published through Pedal on Parliament, Emma’s parents said the symbolism of their daughter’s death, a young rider “devoted to making cities safer and more beautiful for all”, is “terribly searing”.

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

Responding to Emma’s parent’s campaign, a Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the conviction and sentencing of the driver in this tragic case.

“Following their investigation, police indicated to us there were no roads-related issues at the junction that required to be addressed by the council.

“However, as part of wider work to enhance active travel infrastructure along Broomielaw, we are currently working on improving the junction at King George V Bridge. These proposed improvements will include segregated lanes for cycling and a dedicated phase at the traffic signals for active travel with work due to be completed later this year.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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2 comments

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A V Lowe | 3 months ago
2 likes

Just catching up with this. Its now coming up for 5 years since another young woman, also cycling from Shawlands into Glasgow in the morning was killed by a left turning truck driver abot 2Km further South. Both women were constiturents of Humza Yousaf - the current First Minister, who has also held both justice and transport portfolios
Ashley Lennon was crushed against the guardrailing at the junction of Pollokshaws Road and Nithsdale Drive by the driver of a 26T rigid truck who had to make the 110° full lock turn from the right hand lane and basically drive THROUGH the left lane to get round the corner. To create the illusion of having 4 lanes, the lane widths her are reduced to barely 3 metres - the DfT's own figures show that a MINIMUM of 3.25m is required to operate a truck of bus at 30mph, and making this turn any driver has to watch for the rear end not hitting traffic coming towards them, and the front corner not hitting the traffic signals on the outside of the turn
nearly 5 years later the railings are still bent and the left turn (for large vehicles) has not been banned, with alternatives signposted
The lanes (5) have also been squeezed in on KGV bridge, and I often use it. From her intended destination Emma would have been riding straight ahead up Hope Street, and my route for this is in Lane 4, becaus Lane 3 is often used by buses pulling in at bus stops just across the junction
The truck was a 4-axle 32Ton tipper, with off road clearances, we are not told much about whay it was driving through the city centre in the morning rush hour, or details of the operator, who clearly valued the 'vanity plate' registration with company initials? Nor any details of the client who had hired the truck. Glasgow has yet to catch up with London where management of conctruction site traffic extends to keeping those outside the site safe by planning routes and other details to avoid hazards like those noted. It was also very telling that the driver had to be flagged down after dragging the bike (& victim?) for 53 metres after the impact, and not noticing this.
The value of the external CCTV on the bus in the adjacent lane will provide some clear lessons, and the descriptions of the cab and mirrors are also detail to follow up, especially after Suzie Bull was killed in Birmingham, because the driver had refitted a picnic table in the cab after the truck had passed its annual MOT
A mass of detail that needs to be answered, not least for Glasgow Council's mandated duty to investigate crashes and take action to prevent future crashes under the Road Traffic Act Section 39
Nearly 5 years in from Ashley's death, one year from Emma, and just last month another female cyclist killed by a truck in the middle of Bearsden (where the main road by passes the main shopping street)
My first engagement in trying to reduce this waste of so many lives became more focussed in 2000 when I arrived just after Alex Mc Vitty was drive through by a left turning truck driver, also turning from the right hand lane, Mr Mowat was also turning from Lane 2 on the bridge. In 2016 we got the coroner to press for a Rule 28 report after a woman died under a bus in Greenwich, just 8 weeks after another woman narrowly escaped the same fate, at the same place with a litany of road danger issues at the root of these crashes
Time to seriously get risk management professionals delivering roads with such hazards detected and eliminated?

Avatar
dubwise | 3 months ago
9 likes

Responding to Emma’s parent’s campaign, a Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the conviction and sentencing of the driver in this tragic case.

“Following their investigation, police indicated to us there were no roads-related issues at the junction that required to be addressed by the council.

Of course Police Scotland would say this, they simply don't give a damn about vunerable road users.  But from April 1st, call someone a name they don't like and PS will be all over you like a rash.

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