Leicester cycling group Critical Mass led the third annual Ride for Sam B last month in memory of 26-year-old cyclist Sam Boulton, who was killed outside Leicester railway station in July 2016.
Almost 200 people took part in the ride including several members of our staff, vocal supporters of the Sam Says cycle safety campaign that has influenced the current improvement works on London Road.
Sam Boulton, an artist and newly-qualified teacher, died outside the London Road station on 27th July 2016, his 26th birthday. Sam was knocked off his bike into the path of a van when the passenger of an illegally-parked taxi opened the vehicle’s door, an action known as “car-dooring”. Sam’s mother, Andy, works at our office on Regent Road, less than a 10 minute walk from the scene of the collision.
On Friday 26th July, almost three years to the day since Sam passed away, several of Andy’s colleagues joined Sam’s family, football friends and local cycling enthusiasts in a now-annual event dubbed the Ride for Sam B. The ride highlights Critical Mass’ ongoing aims of raising awareness of the dangers faced by cyclists across Leicester and encouraging better and safer provisions for cyclists throughout the city.
The Sam Says campaign was launched following Sam’s death, with the aim of educating drivers and passengers about the dangers of car-dooring. Stickers designed to be placed in vehicle windows are available, featuring Sam’s image alongside messages such as “STOP! Before you open your car door check for cyclists.”
Leicester City Council is an established supporter of the campaign and displays the stickers in its fleet of 720 vehicles, as do local taxi firms Hansom, Swift and ADT. We have long encouraged our employees to feature the stickers in their own cars.
Accounts Administrator Andy Boulton said: “Our family continues to be very grateful to Critical Mass, Leicester Cycling Campaign Group and Cycling UK for everything they’ve done over the last three years in memory of Sam, and to improve conditions for cyclists in Leicester. The support of my colleagues and employers at Newby Castleman has also been welcome and much appreciated throughout this time.”
Rob Martin of Leicester Critical Mass commented: “We started Critical Mass partly because we felt routes such as London Road were unsafe for cyclists – and, sadly, Sam’s death was a result of this. Over the last three years we have been inspired by the grace and purpose of Sam’s close-knit family, and their determination to work together to achieve positive change.
“It was an honour to be joined by so many of Sam’s relatives on this month’s Ride for Sam B, raising our bikes together outside the railway station in celebration of Sam’s life.”
This year’s improvement works on London Road were brought forward as a result of Sam’s death, to create a safer route for cyclists and pedestrians on one of Leicester’s busiest roads. Once complete, the route will feature new, physically segregated cycle lanes on both sides of the road between Granby Street and Victoria Park Road, with raised kerbs. “Dutch-style” bus stop bays will also be added to the route, offering cyclists greater protection. Work is scheduled to be completed towards late summer or early autumn.
Eric Ludlow, Press Officer and spokesperson for Leicester Cycling Campaign Group, said: “We hope the London Road works will be the first of many continuous, prioritised, protected cycle routes into the city centre. The plans for the route have been well-designed and we believe the improvements will result in more people choosing to cycle, rather than drive, into the city centre.”
Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK, said: “Sam’s death was not only tragic, but completely avoidable, if only the lady who opened her car door into his path had looked behind first.
“The determination of Sam’s family to highlight this through the Sam Says campaign has been truly inspiring, and it’s been an absolute privilege to support them and spread the message nationally through our own Dutch Reach campaign.
“Last week’s memorial ride for Sam finished outside the train station on London Road, and it was fantastic to see that the segregated cycle route is nearing completion. There will be critics who say that it’s not long enough and it’s not part of a fully integrated network, which should be the long term plan, but networks aren’t built in a day, so hats off to Leicester City Council for moving forward with this progressive infrastructure scheme.”
Partner Stephen Castleman concluded: “Sam’s death in 2016 was a terrible tragedy that affected all of us at Newby Castleman. We are wholehearted supporters of the Sam Says campaign, and we are continuing to encourage as many people as possible to display the Sam Says stickers in their cars. When the new cycle routes open on London Road, we hope many more people will feel safe to cycle in Leicester.”