Published: 21st April, 2011
by JOSIE HINTON
A MOTHER who lost her daughter 18 years ago when she was hit by a cement mixer lorry has described the death of a 20-year-old student two weeks ago as “history repeating itself”.
Julie Burke, of Tanza Road, Hampstead, launched a seven-year campaign to force lorries to be fitted with extra mirrors following the death of her daughter, Janine Burke, in 1993.
Cyclist Janine, a postgraduate student, was caught on the inside of a HGV as it turned left at the junction of Caledonian Road and Market Road. An inquest into her death heard how she tried to catch the driver’s attention, but was trapped in his blind spot. She died after becoming entangled in the wheels of the moving vehicle.
After the death of Paula Jurek two weeks ago in King’s Cross in what are thought to be almost identical circumstances, Ms Burke has spoken of her distress over “how little has been done”.
Ms Burke, who has written a book about coping with her daughter’s death, told the New Journal: “Whenever I hear about it happening it brings it all back.
“My deepest sympathy goes to the family of Paula Jurek. The loss of a young life such as Paula’s or Janine’s is a tragedy that leaves its effect on their families for ever.
“The government needs to be aware that young people are being mowed down in this way.”
Ms Jurek, a travel and tourism student at London Metropolitan University, died at the busy four-way junction of Camden Road and St Pancras Way on April 5. It is thought that she, like Janine, was caught on the inside of the lorry as it turned left.
Since Ms Jurek’s death, cycling campaigners have dubbed the busy stretch of road “death mile” due to the high numbers of collisions involving cyclists.
Ms Burke’s campaign won the support of MP Glenda Jackson and the charity Road Peace. She raised thousands of pounds by holding memorial concerts every year on the anniversary of Janine’s death.
“I took it as far as I felt I could. That’s why it is so upsetting that this is still happening,” she said. “It always seems to be the same way with lorries turning left. I spent years campaigning for lorries to be fitted with extra mirrors to reduce blind spots and trixi mirrors at junctions would be so easy as well.
“Janine was a great one for justice and I think she would like to see something done about this.”
Ms Burke is not the only bereaved parent to take up the fight for cyclists. Following the death of her daughter in a collision with a cement mixer, Cynthia Barlow, who lives in Camden, bought shares in the company that owned it. She then had new devices installed in its 1,500 mixers, tankers and tippers to prevent accidents.
Last month the family of Eilidh Cairns, the Kentish Town TV producer who died in Notting Hill in February 2009, took their battle to the EU in Strasbourg.
Legislation requiring lorries to be fitted with sensors and emergency brakes is now being examined following the family’s “See Me Save Me” campaign.
And Paul Dean, who launched an online petition following Ms Jurek’s death, has now collected nearly 2,000 signatures calling for trixi mirrors to be rolled out at dangerous junctions.
At the time of her death, Janine Burke had completed an MA in Chinese and was part way through a postgraduate degree in Chinese Medicine. She had already been offered a job at the Royal Free Hospital.
Mrs Burke added: “I would like London to be somewhere that is safe to cycle. As it is I only feel safe cycling on Hampstead Heath.”