National Funeral for the Unknown Cyclist

Yesterday I attended the National Funeral for the Unknown Cyclist and the first UK pedal on Parliament organised by group Stop Killing Cyclists.

It has been in my calendar for months and months.  I really wanted to go but owing to some important matters at home, I nearly didn’t attend.  I am pleased I nipped down though as it made me focus my mind elsewhere for a few hours.

This was an important event to attend.  Change does need to happen.  In light of the recent climate crisis announcement, the air pollution crisis, the obesity epidemic and the number of injuries and deaths caused by road traffic incidents, this protest event called for the end of holds and tax cuts on toxic diesel and petrol and an investment of £3 billion per year for national cycle network

I attended a National Funeral for the Unknown Victim of Traffic Violence back in 2014.  Yesterday’s event had a more specific focus and had a different feeling about it.  Perhaps the narrower focus made it more real.  I was behind a family that had lost a relative whilst he was out cycling.  They looked sad.  It was real and it has to stop.

Just before we left Lincoln’s Inns Fields, I had to take this photograph:Young cyclists

It shows three young boys with small road bicycles.  It was so cute.  But I realised that these children probably don’t use these bicycles to go round their friends’ houses nor go to school.  It is often too dangerous on the roads because usually not enough space is given by cars when they overtake .  More money needs to be invested in a comprehensive cycling network and ultimately attitudes need to change.

The procession, led by a horse drawn hearse left Lincoln’s Inn Fields and went via the Embankment to Parliament.  We slowly walked and cycled behind some loud and sombre music which gave a lament feeling.

Horse drawn carriage

Many eyes fell upon the march and then once we arrived at Parliament, we lay down  with our bicycles sprawled over us for ten minutes.  This was incredibly powerful.  Many photos and videos were taken.  I appear in the linked photo, second down and in the video.  Hopefully, all the media attention to this protest would have had an impact.

Afterwards, we went to Smith Square where there were numerous impassioned speeches, as well as a songs, and the playing of a violin.  Earlier whilst following the procession, I introduced myself to Caroline Russell.  As a London Assembly member, she often is involved in transport debates and I listen in admiration.  She makes so much sense!  It was nice meeting her.  Her speech, as well as the all of the others, made me realise that action needs to be taken now.  The number of vehicles on the roads are forever  increasing massively yet the space available remains the same.  The congestion is swelling.  On top of this, over the last 30 years, public transport costs have been going up and up.

Whilst listening, I also met Cycle Shaz who I have followed on Twitter for some time.  A cycling wise head on very young shoulders!

Me and Cycle Shaz

I was reminded that we are all on the roads because we need to get somewhere.  We should do this in the most efficient way possible.  We need to be considerate, safe and have respect of others.  Why can’t everyone be like this?  If they were, we shouldn’t need to take part in these kind of events and have to demand systemic changes to a very broken traffic system.

Thanks for reading or listening,


Samuel x

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