The family of the French-American cyclist Emma Burke Newman, who was tragically killed in a terrifying collision with a lorry in Glasgow city centre, are urging everyone to do their best to protect vulnerable road users.

Following the sentencing today of lorry driver Paul Mowat, who admitted causing Emma’s death by careless driving, to a 12 month supervision order, 100hrs community service and a driving ban at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Emma’s parents, Rose Marie Burke and John Newman, want their daughter’s death to be a catalyst for change.

Speaking through their solicitor, Jodi Gordon, they acknowledge that the use of sentencing as a deterrent will not solve the issue of protecting cyclists. They want more done to prevent incidents; respect for and enforcement of bike boxes as well as better infrastructure to protect cyclists.

Emma’s fatal collision occurred at a junction with Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs), designated areas for cyclists at traffic-light controlled junctions. These ASLs are designed to provide cyclists with a safe space ahead of other traffic. However, Mr Mowat and a bus had encroached into the ASL, depriving Emma of the protection it should have afforded. The lack of visibility due to the positioning of a reversing camera on Mr Mowat’s vehicle, as well as a dirtied window screen and mirrors, compounded the risks. When the lorry moved forward and turned left, Emma was knocked off her bike and dragged 50m under the lorry.

In a joint statement, Ms Burke and Mr Newman said:
“Our daughter lit up our lives. She came to Glasgow full of optimism and excitement and was warmly welcomed by the people here. She did not deserve to die or suffer in the manner that she did. Along with our overwhelming sadness is the senselessness of it all, knowing that the collision could, and should, have been prevented.

“We are very grateful for the support and sympathy we have received and hope the outpouring of love for our daughter will translate into greater care on the road for cyclists and other active travellers. Every individual riding a bicycle is someone’s child. Drivers, please “get behind” bike boxes, give cyclists space, and watch out at every junction, where most traffic fatalities occur. For your sake as well. No one wants to live with the consequences of having killed or injured a cyclist.”

Jodi Gordon, partner at Cycle Law Scotland, who is representing Emma’s family, added:

“The desire for more prolific active travel along with campaigns to encourage more people to cycle in our cities and towns will ultimately flounder unless the roads are safer. This collision and this case were not just about one driver. The junction was a known blackspot for cyclists. Two drivers encroached on the Advanced Stop Lines. It raises questions about the duty of care on the part of employers to train their drivers to ensure their skills are up-to-date and the vehicles fit for purpose.

“When sentences fail to provide a genuine deterrent, the legal system must consider what else it can do to change the road culture. Emma learned to cycle in Paris where, as in most European cities, a non-combative system of liability for compensation purposes actively reinforces the hierarchy on the roads and helps protect vulnerable users. Active travel is promoted for its benefits to well-being as well as addressing the climate emergency, but if it is to be embraced fully, policymakers need to approach the challenge through the lens of road safety.”

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