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1.09.08 by Buffalo Bill

East Smithfield, near the spot that Mark Francis, London cycle courier, suffered fatal injuries whilst working

Here are the pics that Jono took of four of the spots where London bicycle messengers were killed whilst working. Jono deliberately took them so that they looked anonymous. Could be any piece of road, anywhere in London. Nothing to mark the spot, no sign of commemoration, a flat black surface. The authorities in this country, unlike France, believe that road-side memorials are a dangerous distraction to drivers. No, that’s not a joke. I understand that life has to go on, indeed when we all went down to the junction of Upper Thames Street and Queen Street Place in 2004, it was as much to celebrate Seb’s life, and vigorously proclaim our own vitality in the face of numerous daily fatal threats, as to mourn his passing.

But it seems absurd that there should be no permanent memorials to road deaths near the spots where they happened. Given the current unpopularity of speed cameras, and lower speed limits, surely a reminder of the numbers and names of people killed near a spot would help people to understand why they need to slow down, why they need to take care?

Going back to the pictures, in truth, of the 4, I can only be sure that Seb and Paul were killed in view. The other 2, I was only able to get details of the road. In the case of Joe Cooper, I don’t even know the exact date. There is a story that, upon hearing that Joe had been seriously injured, his controller sent another rider with specific instructions to retrieve the parcels from the hospital, and didn’t bother to ascertain the severity of the injuries. It’s a story, not something that I can confirm for sure, but I heard it at the time, and have heard it since.

As you know, the desire to remember those London bicycle messengers who have been killed whilst working, has been something that has concerned me for a number of years. For this reason, as part of the committee that organised the 1994 Cycle Messenger World Championships, I commissioned the Messenger Monument, a picture of which can be found on the dedication page of this site. It was this that led me to help organise a ride that went and painted the spots with their names in 2003 and 2004. And it is this that kept me writing letters and blog entries up until now.

  1. Good post Bill,when I saw Jono’s pictures it struck me that maybe this was the last thing they would have seen.We must all keep remembering them.


    — overdrive    2 September 2008, 08:40    #
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