On this day, 2004, London bicycle messenger Sebastian Lukomski killed whilst working
23.02.06 by Buffalo Bill
_« London messenger killed by collision with HGV whilst working
Sebastian, Polish messenger, working for Anderson Young, died today after a collision with an HGV. The accident took place this morning, 23rd February. No other details are available.
Yesterday the bicycle messengers of London left the Duke of York, and, rolling as one on a path opened for them by their outriders, went back to that part of Lower Thames Street where their comrade, friend, brother, lover and rider Sebastian Lukomski was taken. Ignoring the entreaties and threats of the police, and the curses of passersby, the crowd laid candles, flowers and prayers. Bikes and voices were raised and a minute’s silence followed. Sebastian Lukomski is dead. He will not be forgotten.»_
The above are taken from reports I wrote at the time, which are archived on Seb’s memorial page
Of the seven London bicycle messengers known to have been killed whilst working, Seb was the only one that I knew even slightly before his death. His death was profoundly shocking, and was the first London messenger death to become a proper media event. For me, his death left me with a feeling of loss and also failure.
At a General Meeting of the London Bicycle Messenger Association in October 2003 I had successfully proposed that the LBMA campaign for a ban on HGV movements in Central London daytime. However, we/I failed to move that campaign forwards at all before Seb’s death. After his death I resolved that I would do everything I could to prevent HGVs from killing another London bicycle messenger.
I used my position of Chair of the LBMA to vigourously campaign, both in the media and in meetings that the lorry companies and their drivers should be made to face up to their responsibilities for the deaths caused by their vehicles. But despite the unstinting support of Cynthia Barlow of Roadpeace and Alastair Hanton of the London Cycling Campaign the only thing that Transport for London have done, as the result of the LBMA HGV campaign, is this pretty limp press release.
The number of cyclists killed in London is down from 20-odd in 2003 to 14 in 2004, which is a pretty startling reduction. However, as reported here and here, cyclists are still being killed and seriously injured by lorries. And was shown by the ridiculous reporting of the death of Patricia Macmillan cyclists are still being blamed for their own deaths – by other cyclists sometimes. So my view is that nothing has changed. I know that the contact group that was initiated by the Mayor after pressure from me, has not met since June last year. It’s a miserable day today, and after a visit to the junction where Seb was killed, I still feel the loss, and I still feel the sense of failure.
The driver that killed Seb got 6 points and £1000 fine. Seb was called all sorts of names by people within the London messenger community and beyond, some people said he was stoned and therefore it was his own fault, one guy even said, and I quote: he was a complete fuckwit for riding up the inside, and lot of other people, including the then Coordinator of Tower Hamlets Wheelers were similarly uncomplimentary.
Seb was not a fuckwit. Seb was trying to do his job well, but he misjudged. He made a mistake.
If Terence Fallows had bothered to look in his mirrors before he maneouvred, as he supposed to do, especially in a built-up area, then he would have seen Seb, and Seb would be alive today. He was negligent, and his negligence killed Seb.
I have heard and seen a lot of talk on the newsgroups and in meetings about the so-called ‘blind-spot’. In Seb’s case, there was no blind-spot, because the police were able to prove that Seb was visible in the mirrors if Mr Fallows had bothered to turn his head to see. But most HGVs will have to be reversed to load at some point, reversed into space which will not be covered by mirrors, into a blind spot. What happens then? Are there routine incidents of HGV bumping into things when reversing? Of course there are not. Realising that there is limited visibility, the driver takes extra care not to run into anything.
That’s all I ask of the HGV drivers. Just take extra care, and stop running us over.