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

"There is more than enough space, we just have to commit to making it safe for all who use it"...

The parents of a "strong and experienced" cyclist, killed in a collision with a vehicle being driven at a "deadly" Glasgow junction, have called for all political parties to support the adoption of "best-practice infrastructure" as well as other safety measures to better protect cyclists.

Emma Burke Newman, a ​22-year-old student, was killed while cycling in the Scottish city earlier this year, with the investigation into her death still ongoing. Now, in "our first political action", her parents Rose Marie and John have offered support to Pedal on Parliament, a campaign that organises a ride to the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood to call for proper funding and infrastructure to make cycling accessible for all.

Ultimately aiming "to make Scotland a cycle-friendly country", Pedal on Parliament's 2023 event takes place this Saturday with the ride in Glasgow and other parts of the country.

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".

> Pedal on Parliament goes local as campaigners across Scotland protest against poor infrastructure (+ gallery)

"She cycled everywhere in the much bigger cities of Paris, London, and Berlin. But, only three months into living in Scotland, she was roadkill at that deadly junction, as if the world were saying, no, you cannot. Not now.

"Instead, we must. We, her parents, feel compelled to push Scotland ahead, to make roads safer for everyone. It seems that society has accepted death and serious injury as a cost of getting from point A to B? We don't accept that. Had Emma lived, she would have made safer travel her life's work. Since she has not, we are taking on the mantle. It will help us of our grief, to ensure that her death was not in vain. 

"Although we are still in mourning, we have decided to support Pedal on Parliament as our first political action. We are demanding 'No Backpedalling.' Scotland has great plans and the budget for active travel. Now it must deliver, without stalling. Given that the country is a decade or more behind, there is no time to lose – only more lives to be lost.

"We urge all parties to support and adopt best-practice infrastructure, identification and remediation of dangerous hotspots, enforcement of current rules and regulations (using dash-cam video to catch lawbreakers) and improved safety standards for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). Not to mention education and a shift in attitudes.

> Round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont leads Pedal on Parliament protest ride

"Actually, Scotland's needs for active travel have been well articulated for years. The foot-dragging needs to stop, right now. In Glasgow, we are heartened that politicians and stakeholders will meet soon to discuss road safety and hope that they can go further to develop an action plan."

While noting the investigation into the collision of January 27 is "still ongoing", Emma's parents insist "our daughter would be alive today" if "the proper infrastructure existed to separate cycles from HGVs and buses".

"There is more than enough space at the intersection where Emma died to accommodate every traveller. There is more than enough space, we just have to commit to making it safe for all who use it," they continued.

"What happened at this junction, we realise, is one case, but also an object lesson pointing to the need for long overdue progress to improve the safety of Scottish roads."

More information and full details of this weekend's event can be found on Pedal on Parliament's website...

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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70 comments

Avatar
ITK2012 | 1 year ago
14 likes

Driving is not a right it is a privilege, and the punishments for driving offences should reflect that. There are a significant number of drivers in the UK who have poor driving skills, and a significant number who just don't care.

Road policing is frankly piss poor, and the punishments when a driving is actually convicted of something are just as bad.

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eburtthebike | 1 year ago
24 likes

"Society has accepted death as a cost of getting from A to B"

Indeed, and if the death and injury toll from driving was from any other cause, it would be banned immediately until it had been made safe.

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
0 likes

Fairly hyperbolic considering that cycling is only 3rd in terms of fatalities per passenger mile.
https://www.statista.com/statistics/300601/average-number-of-fatalities-...

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Secret_squirrel replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
14 likes

ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:

Fairly hyperbolic considering that cycling is only 3rd in terms of fatalities per passenger mile.

And yet there is no mention of cycling in the quote......

Think you're off base with the hyperbolic point. Dying on the roads is a tacitly accepted cost of getting from A to B regardless of transport.

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
3 likes
Secret_squirrel wrote:

ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:

Fairly hyperbolic considering that cycling is only 3rd in terms of fatalities per passenger mile.

And yet there is no mention of cycling in the quote......

Think you're off base with the hyperbolic point. Dying on the roads is a tacitly accepted cost of getting from A to B regardless of transport.

Perhaps I misconstrued eburt's comment. Apologies if I did I assumed they meant that cycling specifically would be banned.

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wycombewheeler replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
7 likes

ShutTheFrontDawes][quote=Secret_squirrel wrote:

Perhaps I misconstrued eburt's comment. Apologies if I did I assumed they meant that cycling specifically would be banned.

you assumed this

eburtthebike wrote:

if the death and injury toll from driving was from any other cause, it would be banned 

meant that cycling would be banned? were you deliberately misconstruing the point?

1800 road deaths per year, only 100 are cyclists

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
1 like
wycombewheeler]<p>[quote=ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:
Secret_squirrel wrote:

Perhaps I misconstrued eburt's comment. Apologies if I did I assumed they meant that cycling specifically would be banned.

you assumed this

eburtthebike wrote:

if the death and injury toll from driving was from any other cause, it would be banned 

meant that cycling would be banned? were you deliberately misconstruing the point?

1800 road deaths per year, only 100 are cyclists

I wasn't deliberately misconstruing the point, no. I was reading eburt's post having read the article, which I don't know if you've noticed talks specifically about making cycling safer, not all modes of transport.

But at least I can apologise when I get something wrong, unlike you and your "facts".

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IanMK replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
7 likes

I agree, I think this is about having a "vision zero" approach to road usage.

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wycombewheeler replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
19 likes

No mention of cyclists in the post you quote.

Road deaths run at about 1,800 a year in the UK, and very little is done to address this. Dangerous junctions are not routinely improved. Dangerous drivers ae not banned from the roads. Restrictions on motor vehicles are not required.

E-bikes and e-scooters are so dangerous they have to be speed limited, yet new cars can be sold which can travel at 150mph, and only the drivers concience is apparently required to limit that.

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
0 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

No mention of cyclists in the post you quote.

Road deaths run at about 1,800 a year in the UK, and very little is done to address this. Dangerous junctions are not routinely improved. Dangerous drivers ae not banned from the roads. Restrictions on motor vehicles are not required.

E-bikes and e-scooters are so dangerous they have to be speed limited, yet new cars can be sold which can travel at 150mph, and only the drivers concience is apparently required to limit that.

Aren't we supposed to believe that cycling is so safe that we don't need to wear helmets? I'm sure someone on here told me that you're more likely to die falling in the shower. I'm confused.

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hawkinspeter replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
13 likes

ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:

Aren't we supposed to believe that cycling is so safe that we don't need to wear helmets? I'm sure someone on here told me that you're more likely to die falling in the shower. I'm confused.

Cycling is a relatively safe activity, but the issue is that it often takes place on public roads and there's a certain percentage of drivers that are incompetent and/or malicious. You may wish to wear a helmet to protect against these drivers, but it's not particularly recommended as cycle helmets aren't tested or designed to withstand high speed collisions. There's plenty of other ways that we as a society can improve the safety of roads and they are a lot more effective than slapping a thin bit of foam on your head.

 

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
3 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

but it's not particularly recommended as cycle helmets aren't tested or designed to withstand high speed collisions.

It is recommended. You might want to check the highway code. It may not protect against all collisions, but that is not a good reason to pretend they're of no benefit.

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hawkinspeter replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
7 likes

ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:

It is recommended. You might want to check the highway code. It may not protect against all collisions, but that is not a good reason to pretend they're of no benefit.

You're still pushing that agenda.

I did not say that they are of no benefit, but it is foolish to think that they are any meaningful part of reducing road danger. PPE has its place, but it should be way down the list and it's far better to avoid a collision in the first place.

It's counter-productive to keep talking about bike helmets as they're most successful in persuading people to not cycle and sedentary illnesses are a bigger problem than the small number of cyclist collisions. If you want to get people cycling which benefits individuals and society, then it's best to focus on the dangerous drivers which also benefits pedestrians. It's notable that you don't seem to be singing the benefits of pedestrian helmets as you probably realise that it's a ridiculous proposition.

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
0 likes

I'm still pushing an agenda? That's a laugh coming from someone that keeps spouting about helmets being 'not recommended' and useless for something they're not even designed for. Talk about a chucking rocks at a straw man.

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hawkinspeter replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
8 likes

ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:

I'm still pushing an agenda? That's a laugh coming from someone that keeps spouting about helmets being 'not recommended' and useless for something they're not even designed for. Talk about a chucking rocks at a straw man.

Well, you're the one bringing up the topic of bike helmets in almost every discussion. It's a distraction from the actual issues and doesn't reduce the chance of being involved in a collision.

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:

ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:

I'm still pushing an agenda? That's a laugh coming from someone that keeps spouting about helmets being 'not recommended' and useless for something they're not even designed for. Talk about a chucking rocks at a straw man.

Well, you're the one bringing up the topic of bike helmets in almost every discussion. It's a distraction from the actual issues and doesn't reduce the chance of being involved in a collision.

I brought up helmets because of what I've been told on here in the past. About cycling being so safe we don't need to wear helmets, with examples of other activities being more dangerous.

Plainly cycling can't be both very safe and also very dangerous.

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chrisonabike replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
4 likes

As you know (having said you've some health and safety expertise) - different kinds of protection.  Helmets also don't make cycling feel much safer for most people (or at least not safe enough they'll hop onto a bike in traffic) and don't make it more convenient.  Nor do they make journeys faster / more efficient (except possibly for some of those questionable ones used in some parts of the sport for enhancing streamlining).

Remind me again why we're back in EC1V 3QJ?

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
1 like
chrisonatrike wrote:

Remind me again why we're back in EC1V 3QJ?

I brought it up (more fool me) as I'm sick and tired of hearing that cycling is very safe one minute and very dangerous the next.

Helmets also apparently don't make people feel safer (as per your post), but eburt says they make people feel so much safer they take extra risks to the point that they're actually more likely to have a head injury when wearing one.

I feel like people just make stuff up as they go to fit their own agenda, even when making directly contradictory statements.

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chrisonabike replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
4 likes

ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:

I brought it up (more fool me) as I'm sick and tired of hearing that cycling is very safe one minute and very dangerous the next. Helmets also apparently don't make people feel safer (as per your post), but eburt says they make people feel so much safer they take extra risks to the point that they're actually more likely to have a head injury when wearing one. I feel like people just make stuff up as they go to fit their own agenda, even when making directly contradictory statements.

(If you'll allow me) Oh no we don't!

I think that's a fair observation of people.

On the actual point I don't entirely see a contradiction here.  Of course I'm now speculating airily* but if you are not (for whatever reason) minded to ride on the roads I'm pretty sure the offer of a helmet won't tempt you.  OTOH If you have already crossed that decision rubicon and you're about to get on a bike then doing something associated with "safety" may make you feel a lot more confident.

* Perhaps there is an actual study in existence...?  I'm sure I recall hearing of something like this from the University of Westminster.  I'm sure eburtthebike would have heard of it if so!

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HoarseMann replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
8 likes

ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:

 I brought up helmets because of what I've been told on here in the past. About cycling being so safe we don't need to wear helmets, with examples of other activities being more dangerous. Plainly cycling can't be both very safe and also very dangerous.

This is the wrong article to have a helmet debate on. Just look at the scene of the collision. It's clear that a helmet would be irrelevant and the dangerous thing is not the bicycle. This poor woman was crushed by a 26-ton tipper truck.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-64452187

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A V Lowe replied to HoarseMann | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

She was crushed under the wheels of a 4-axle 32T truck with a specification for off road use - & the driver carried on for 53 metres before a passer by flagged him down to stop becuase he'd not even noticed hitting the victim

Those are some of the questions to start asking

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wycombewheeler replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
15 likes

Again, we are talking about cars being dangerous, why are you trying to conflate that to cyclists?

I may well have stated that walking 5km is at least as risky as cycling 5km, and yet only one of these needs a helmet. In both cases the source of the risk is uncontrolled cars.

The fact remains that if 1,800 deaths a year were being caused by something other than motor vehicles, action would be taken.

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
0 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

Again, we are talking about cars being dangerous, why are you trying to conflate that to cyclists?

Because I've read the above article. Have you?

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eburtthebike replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
1 like

ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:

Because I've read the above article. Have you?

You may well have read it, but as has been proven beyond doubt and admitted by yourself, your understanding leaves a great deal to be desired.

 

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
4 likes

wycombewheeler wrote:

The fact remains that if 1,800 deaths a year were being caused by something other than motor vehicles, action would be taken.

I wouldn't disagree - and I think the largest factors are the special cultural place of driving, the fact that mass motoring is several generations old and essentially baked in and the large numbers for whom this is "normality".  That's without mentioning the money involved in maintaining this.

However an awful lot of driving is going on - more than many activities.  Perhaps we should put that figure in the broader context.  The latest figures from the Mortality Profile from the OHID show (some examples from deaths not due to disease):

Mortality, all causes (2021): 549,349
Infant mortality (2019 - 21): 7,036
Smoking-attributable mortality (2017-19): 191,903
Death from drug misuse (2018-20): 8,185
Suicide (2019 - 21): 15,447

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David9694 replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
3 likes

You might argue that the tobacco industry or drugs pushers partly caused 200k of the 549k, but there's a big element of personal choice and personal risk-taking there.  

Drivers are very fond of arguing "cars will be cars - the rest of you take the risk" - oh no we fucking don't - cars perpetrate those dangers and inflict them  upon us - I just want to breathe clean air and get to where I'm going safely as though that's not (a) normal (b) too much to ask?

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
0 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

The fact remains that if 1,800 deaths a year were being caused by something other than motor vehicles, action would be taken.

I love it when people start with "the fact is" or similar. You're guaranteed to get something patently false.

Smoking and alcohol use would both have to go through radical change to get death rates as low as that.

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wycombewheeler replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
9 likes

ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:
wycombewheeler wrote:

The fact remains that if 1,800 deaths a year were being caused by something other than motor vehicles, action would be taken.

I love it when people start with "the fact is" or similar. You're guaranteed to get something patently false. Smoking and alcohol use would both have to go through radical change to get death rates as low as that.

could you imagine if 1800 people a year were dying due to misuse of ovens? and the response was "well people need to cook food, what can you do"?

There would be an investigation into the causes of the accidents and safety measures introduced to prevent re-occurance.

52 people died in the 7/7 bombings in London and there was a massive increase in counter terrorist operations and measures, that would be a quiet month for road deaths, because the 1800 are just accepted as the necesary cost of moving people and stuff around.

 

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
0 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:
wycombewheeler wrote:

The fact remains that if 1,800 deaths a year were being caused by something other than motor vehicles, action would be taken.

I love it when people start with "the fact is" or similar. You're guaranteed to get something patently false. Smoking and alcohol use would both have to go through radical change to get death rates as low as that.

could you imagine if 1800 people a year were dying due to misuse of ovens? and the response was "well people need to cook food, what can you do"?

There would be an investigation into the causes of the accidents and safety measures introduced to prevent re-occurance.

52 people died in the 7/7 bombings in London and there was a massive increase in counter terrorist operations and measures, that would be a quiet month for road deaths, because the 1800 are just accepted as the necesary cost of moving people and stuff around.

 

Lol. You can't even admit that your "fact" is complete BS. Fantastic whataboutery on the oven front. Bravo.

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chrisonabike replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
5 likes

several posters wrote wrote:

No mention of cycling in the quote

And no mention of helmets before your post either.

I'm a bit confused about what point you're making (unless you've just seen eburtthebike and are automatically assuming helmet row?).  I understood eburtthebike's point to relate to much of the danger when getting about without a motor vehicle to be due to the presence of motor vehicles - and that as the article says we might not accept the level of deaths in other sectors.

Statistically use of any transport mode in the UK is very safe (compared to rest of world).  Unfortunately this is partly due to "driving non-motorised / lower-energy modes off the roads".  FWIW according to analysis here in terms of numbers unsuprisingly cars are doing most of the killing and most of those dying are pedestrians - makes sense since pedestrians are the most numerous vulnerable road users.

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