04 July 2009

Delivering the message about cyclist deaths

My record for participating in protests is small and eclectic. In fact, until yesterday, I'd only demonstrated twice: once against an illegal land war the Middle East, and once for more bike parking at St Pancras International.

Did these protests make any difference? Well, at St Pancras in 2007 the PR department took fright the night before the demo and installed a few stands pronto. We still invaded Iraq though. Make that 1-1, then.

But there was a small protest yesterday (right) at 4pm outside the Crown Prosecution Service in Ludgate Hill, just by St Paul's, to draw attention to the way the law conspires to protect drivers who kill cyclists. Sadly, it came at the end of a week that had seen two, possibly three, more cyclists killed on London's roads.

I was one of the thirty or so who gathered to deliver a statement to the CPS. Booksnake's Flickr page carries the full statement, photos, and more links.

The BBC recently picked up, rather belatedly, on ghost bikes: those white-bike memorials left permanently chained to railings where a cyclist was killed.

Sometimes though there are no railings or any other place to put a ghost bike, as at this spot on Queen St, just north of Southwark Bridge. Here, courier Sebastian Lukomski died in 2004 at the hands of a tipper lorry driver. He is commemorated by a brief message in yellow on the pavement (right). We passed it on the way home from Ludgate Hill.

It may take a lot more yellow and white paint before the message gets through.


  1. I'm 50/50 on the temporary/permanent memorial thing.

    I can see the need to make more people aware of what's going on, but at the same time I think this creates the perception that cycling is dangerous and discourages more cyclists, the opposite of which is the very thing we need to make cycling on the roads safer that it is already.

    All power to changing the attitude of the CPS though.

  2. I'm also in two minds, and which I'm in tends to be defined by what's just happened. When I hear of another pointless life lost, and I get furious and want everyone to know how stupid and unfair it was, and install white bikes on every damn street corner. But most of the time, when I'm happily trundling round London doing splendidly silly things, I wish the ghost bikes would go away because I want to encourage everyone to do what I do, because it's just the best way of getting around London and life. I'll keep trying to strike the right balance in the blog!

  3. I hate cyclists, because so many of them use the pavement, which is against the law. Most think it is a by law, but it is not, it's a Z40 offence, cycling on the footway. Cyclists say, we are being forced of the roads because it unsafe. Yeah, well, it's unsafe to walk on the pavement because of cyclists using the pavements, and going at speeds past 20 mph. Bottom line, GET OFF THE PAVEMENTS AND STOP PUTTING PEDESTRIANS LIFES AT RISK!

  4. Thank you for your comment, @david_bricktop525, and I hope you manage to fix your sticky SHIFT key.

    I'm afraid I have to disagree with you. First, to say "I hate cyclists, because so many of them use the pavement", is rather silly. Do you hate white people, because so many of them are criminals?

    Cycling on the pavement is wrong and people shouldn't do it. It annoys people and it's rude and inconvenient. But to bang on about the 'danger' is like banging on about the 'danger' of people using mobile phones on trains.

    Figures - such as those eloquently quoted at Chapman Central - simply prove your 'danger' analysis wrong.

    Let's base our arguments on data and analysis, not shouted prejudice.