Here in the London Borough of Lambeth we are fortunate in having highly committed Road Safety Officers for whom a 20 mph speed limit is painfully obvious to those who have access to the shocking national statistics for road deaths in 2011. The figure of 1,901 should surely be enough to convince all London Boroughs to implement a 20 mph speed restriction, especially when hearing those heartbreaking oak leaves names being read out at the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims at St James’s Church in November.
Roadpeace is a National Charity for road crash victims with an annual church service that really needs to be quietly attended rather than reported but I will do my best to express the burden of loss experienced by those who are left to live with memories and `the what might have been’ as relatives of a motorcyclist or parents of a child killed on our roads.
The church service is aimed at giving comfort to the families but it was hard not to feel angry at the bureaucratic indifference from public servants who could make our roads a safer place, especially in the presence of those left to grieve, such as the mother for whom the entrance to Brixton Underground Station offers consolation and brief reunion. It’s a place she returns to for reasons that still run rivers in her mascara. Standing left and looking right she is able to watch her son and his friends as they set out on their gap year adventure. That was the last time she saw him, yet another victim of road death but this time at the hands of a bus driver thousands of miles from home. The conversations after the service offered that crucial therapy of sharing, each one heavy in the re-telling but necessary in staying the distance of grieving for a child, a brother or the young woman who wanted to tell me about her Dad. “He was just a fair weather motorcyclist. Why didn’t it rain that day and never stop! The driver got a suspended sentence and I got life. Life without my Dad, my life without him, my funny, infuriating, loveable father who like so many just didn’t deserve it”.