Launch of See Me Save Me at Eilidh's ghost bike, Notting Hill Gate, 2pm, Sunday 5th February 2012
Joined by Cynthia Barlow, Chair of RoadPeace, bereaved families of others killed by lorries in our city, and many many friends and supporters Kate said:
I am here today because exactly three years ago my little sister’s life ended.
Eilidh was brought up on a beach in Northumberland alongside me and her 2 brothers. Her love of the outdoors and wilderness continued throughout her adult life and she spent as much time as possible in the ocean, the desert, and the mountains. Her passion was snowboarding. And the way she reproduced that feeling of freedom and speed and control in her city living was to cycle everywhere she went on her beloved bespoke fixed gear bike.
What poetic poignancy that today of all days we see beautiful weather such as this. Four days before she died she was so excited to wake and see snow from her window. Her first thought, after checking she couldn’t get to work, was to rouse her friends and dash up to Parliament Hill, kitted out in snowboard gear. There they spent the most perfect day that they ever could in London: Snowboarding down the Heath.
But only four days later, in this spot, she was hit from behind, knocked off her bike and crushed under the wheels of a tipper lorry. She lay pinned by a double wheel fully conscious quietly asking ‘please help me, please help me’. Two hours later she did not exist anymore.
She was one of the 185 people killed on London’s roads in 2009. Since her death, a further 50 pedestrians and cyclists have suffered unnecessary pointless avoidable deaths in collisions with lorries in London.
My family and Eilidh’s friends have been campaigning continually for three years at European level and at National level to eliminate the lorry blind spot. See Me Save Me is about addressing the specific problem of people dying because lorry drivers cannot see them. If they can only see us, we will be saved.
It is a long and hard struggle. And every family wants change immediately. Because I know, and you know, that every further death is another blow. That every day of delay the risk of others suffering does not diminish. And we can categorically say today that with the situation as it is, there will be at least one other death, but more likely several, under the wheels of an HGV in London before the year is out.
That is why I am so glad today to have the support of Roadpeace with their funding from Awards from All and other donations to launch our new See Me Save Me website. There are so many failings in the status quo and so many areas of action that we need one place to bring them all together, where people can come for information, for inspiration and to contribute to change.
Momentum is gathering and we need to work together, and find our voice; be strong, passionate, compelling together. I am reassured that The Times has joined our campaign to eliminate lorry blind spots. It is too late for all of us, and for the 50 already dead since Eilidh, and all the rest before, but it took one of their own to suffer. How many more have to suffer before those that have the influence to change, those that are in positions of public responsibility, those with civic duty for the protection of our most vulnerable, will listen? How many more have to die?
These are our fathers, our brothers, our husbands, our sons, our wives, our sisters our mothers, our daughters. They are young, and healthy, and those contributing most to our society and taking the least from it. Families have suffered a great loss, but so has society. Many of these victims are inspirational leaders, achieving much more in their short lives than others achieve in decades. They are our best, our most precious and at the peak of their professional lives.
It is a catastrophe for all of us to lose such precious people, struck down not by disease or illness, or natural disaster, but by lack of due care and attention.
It may take many years but, generations from now, people will look back at this time and wonder at how we let things get so out of hand. How we accepted with such frequency, such barbaric deaths, of those so healthy, so productive and so loved. When there were such simple solutions. But as the toll of dead and injured mounts it can only be a matter of time before we all say enough is enough. We will go on, and on, and on, until everyone understands that this must stop.