Network Rail push bike level crossing safety message: Footpath crossing cyclist poster

Thursday 4 Jun 2015

Network Rail push bike level crossing safety message

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Network Rail has launched a new level crossing safety campaign targeting cyclists. The campaign is being supported by Sustrans, the charity behind the creation and management of the 14,000 mile National Cycle Network.

Britain’s level crossings are among the safest in the world, but injuries and near misses still happen regularly. In the last five years, there have been around 140 incidents involving cyclists with four of these tragically being fatal.

The new campaign aims to encourage safer cycling behaviour to keep cyclists and their bikes from harm at level crossings.

The campaign reminds cyclists:

  • To dismount at footpaths crossings. Footpath crossings weren’t designed with cyclists in mind and some have found that their bike wheels can get stuck when crossing the railway. By walking across, you can more easily stop, look and listen for trains, and the risk to cyclists and their bikes is reduced.
  • That amber warning lights at road level crossings means ‘stop – a train is coming’. *

The campaign will be delivered locally by Network Rail’s 100 level crossings managers, who will aim to speak to cycling groups and clubs across the country as well as leisure cyclists. It will enable them to get across additional safety messages such as:

  • Headphones can be a distraction and may mean that the wearer doesn’t hear the alarms sounded at level crossings or by an oncoming train
  • Never assume that there is only one train coming or think that you know the timetable to guess when a train might come.

David John is a level crossing manager at Network Rail and a keen cyclist. He explains: “As a keen cyclist myself, I know the hazards that riders encounter every day. Level crossings can sometimes seem to be a hindrance, but to keep safe we’re reminding cyclists to stop when the flashing amber lights come on as a train will soon coming through, and to dismount at footpath crossings. I know getting off the bike isn’t always ideal but I do this to make sure I can safely stop, look and listen to check no train is coming, and to protect my bike as I wheel it across. We’ve seen quite a few cyclists get their wheels stuck while crossing the tracks, so this will help keep your bike as well as you safe.”

Huw Davies, Sustrans National Cycle Network Director, said: “Getting on your bike is a quick way of going from A to B for everyday journeys, but is also a good way to stay healthy and explore the countryside through the National Cycle Network.

“With there being thousands of level crossings on roads and cycle routes, it’s important that when the public are out and about this summer enjoying the Sustrans Network they are aware of how to use these crossings in a safe and sensible manner.

“Level crossings can be confusing to people who aren’t used to using them, but by following a few simple rules people can learn how to cross them with safety and confidence.”

  • ENDS -

Notes to editors

* Section 293 of the Highway Code states you should only keep going on an amber light if you have already crossed the stop line when they come on: “AMBER means ‘Stop’ at the stop line. You may go on only if the AMBER appears after you have crossed the stop line or are so close to it that to pull up might cause an accident”.

Network Rail is investing £100million into its programme to improve level crossing safety between up until 2019. Over the last six years it has:

  • Closed over 900 level crossings
  • Replaced footpath crossings with footbridges
  • Installing warning lights as an additional safety measure at footpath crossings
  • Launched a new schools programme – Rail Life – teaching both primary and secondary school children about how to stay safe when crossing the railway
  • Rolled out safety camera enforcement vans
  • Invested in new technology such as the obstacle detection radar technology
  • Introduced power operated gate openers
  • Installed spoken warnings to announce when “another train is coming” after one train has passed through
  • Employed more than 100 new dedicated level crossing managers

About Sustrans

Sustrans is the charity that’s enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day. It’s time we all began making smarter travel choices. Make your move and support Sustrans today.

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Network Rail press office - Donna Mitchell
Senior Media Relations Manager
Network Rail
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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

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