Marie Vesco – 5th anniversary ride

art3_smallFive years ago, a group of London activists cycled to a “Smash Edo” demonstration against the arms trade in Brighton. With them was Marie Vesco, who was part of the Food not Bombs group which regularly handed out food in Brixton.

14 miles north of Brighton, she was killed on the A23 by two careless drivers who were never prosecuted.

See the Cyclists Remembered blog listing the names of cyclists who have died on the roads due to incidents involving motorised vehicles.

This year 2013, for the fifth anniversary of Marie’s death, on the morning of the 4th of June, family and friends of Marie will meet by the road where Marie was killed and then they will cycle to Portsmouth, camping one night on the way, then arriving at Portsmouth on the 5th. From there, Marie’s family will then take the ferry to France and cycle home to La Rochelle.

We welcome other cyclists who wish to join us; let us know if you want to camp or to stay in the youth hostel.

Most riders will start the journey in London. Some will go to the A23 by train on the 4th and some others will ride there, starting on the 3rd and camping along the way near the A23 where Marie was killed, if it is enough of us! This ride will likely begin in Brixton Oval, opposite the Ritzy cinema, the same place where so many times Marie gave food away with Reclaim Your Food, in spite of the police repression applied on the actions, which included arrests, and the same place from where we set off that day.

Please get in touch to join any of the groups and to book a space in the Youth Hostel should you prefer this option to camping.

The total ride will last from the 3rd to the 5th of June, and some are also planning to come back to London by bike. You can join any of those days, either in London on the 3rd, or Hickstead on the 4th, or the Youth Hostel on the 5th; see google maps.

Some press will be present on the ride, specially at crucial points, and people are welcome to bring cameras with them. If you do join this ride, please make sure you wear a high-visibility vest at least, unless you have arranged to buy one of the vests we are currently printing.

Sharing the Road:

We will strongly suggest to practice assertive and courteous riding at all times (this is not a Critical Mass ride: we share the road in the same way that we expect other road users to do).

This is to try make sure that the whole event runs as smoothly and as safely as possible. We need to be mindful that we are cycling with Marie’s parents, a bereaved family, who are not familiar with English roads so it is important that we all understand the tone of the ride. There may be press around at times and if any motorists complain about us we need to be able to defend our cycling as best practice.

Our practice would therefore include:

1.    Always indicate, even when there is no other traffic around (not just at junctions but also when eg. passing parked cars).
2.    When passing parked cars allow 1 meter gap in case a car door opens while passing (more if the road is narrow: see point 4 below).
3.    Wherever possible cycle a minimum of 1 meter from the curb; at times this means ignoring narrow cycle lanes.
4.    If it is not safe for a vehicle behind to overtake (giving 1 meter clearance to the right of the cyclist), move out into the centre of the lane to prevent being overtaken.
5.    We do not filter down the left side of traffic when there is a junction ahead, it is safer to take our place in the queue of traffic.
6.    The frontmost cyclist (who will also be the navigator) will never get too far ahead of the group.
7.    Unless there is no other traffic, we stay in single file.
8.    We cycle in clusters of no more than three with a gap of at least three car lengths between each cluster (this is to enable safe overtaking which may not be possible for other vehicles to do if we are in one long line).
9.    When roads are bending to the left we move out towards the centre in order to be more visible.
10.    We slow our speed where appropriate to allow a vehicle to safely overtake (and generally adapt our cycling to show the same courtesy that we would like from other road users).

The plans.

Monday 3rd of June 2013:

If there are enough of us, we plan to start from Brixton and follow the same route that Marie and friends took to Redhill, then join the NCR21 to Crawley; all the way using bike routes or secondary roads. The starting time will depend on arrangements with the press the next day, so please check closer to the time if you choose this option.

Tuesday 4th of June:

We plan to pick up the route from where we left off on Monday, to join the main ride that starts in Hickstead to the site where Marie was killed. From there, we will head to Portsmouth, spending a night around half-way. The starting time will depend on arrangements with the press; please check closer to the time.

Wednesday 5th of June:

Again we will continue from where we left off the previous day, to proceed to Portsmouth, where Marie’s family will get on a ferry to continue their journey to La Rochelle.

Overnight options:

Some people are camping, others are staying in a hostel, others may be getting back to London by train and others may join us along the way. Either way, you are welcome to get in touch to arrange any of these options with more people. Please do not turn up on the day unannounced and expect to have a place available to you in a hostel or food cooked. Get in touch and do not assume we have heard from you until you have received an answer. Thanks …

What to bring:

At least:a hat, barrier cream, water bottles, long shorts (upper legs get more sun, especially as we are mainly southbound) but be prepared for rain as well!
Wear visible colours and/or hi-viz vests.
Bring bike lights and a lock in case you need them.
Try to avoid carrying anything on your back, use panniers or a bag on a back-rack if you can.
Be responsible for your own bike, carry basic tools, spare cables and, most importantly, at least one spare inner tube and a puncture repair kit.

We are in the process of printing some high visibility vests for the day that will be available to purchase on the day, at around £10 each, just to cover costs.

Please get in touch to book these as well, or bring your own for safety.

Or, if you want to contribute your own printout, again get in touch to get the high-resolution file.

You can contact the ride by email: remembering_marie at
and/or of course posting comments in the facebook page or blog post or forum where you have seen this announced.

The following links offer some background information, a report from the Inquest and reports from the anniversaries: second and fourth.

Note about links: some will give you a scary warning because the ‘certificate’ is ‘untrusted’. Please accept the certificates; it is a technical complexity to do with how badly big organisations like Explorer or even Firefox interact with small ones like indymedia.


1 thought on “Marie Vesco – 5th anniversary ride

  1. Press Release:

    On 4 June 2008, whilst cycling along the A23, Marie Vesco, a 19 year-old French girl, was killed. She was hit by a taxi driver and then run over by a second car following too close behind the first vehicle. No charges were laid before the courts and no sanctions were served on the drivers of either of the cars.

    In Marie’s memory, and as a tribute to her, we have arranged a bike ride and hope to draw to the attention of the British authorities the lack of safety for cyclists and vulnerable road users in the UK. The ride will take place on 4 – 5 June 2013, from Hickstead to Portsmouth, along the route that Marie was cycling when she was killed.

    We want cyclists and pedestrians to be recognised as vulnerable road users by the law and believe that crucial to this, within the civil (non-criminal) law, would be the implementation of ’presumed liability’ in Britain, as is already in place in most other European countries. Such a law holds drivers to a higher standard around vulnerable road users and requires that in the event of a crash they are initially held to be liable for any personal injury or negligence claims which arise, unless they can rebut such a presumption.

    For us as parents, the unbearable grief at the loss of our child is doubled by the fact that those who we hold responsible for her death were never punished by the criminal justice system; nor was their negligent driving ever recognised as such. It was as if she was mere road-kill. For us, the very humanity of our child was denied:

    Who can believe that a civilised country responds to the “accidental” death of a cyclist or pedestrian with no recourse to court whatsoever?

    It is time for British politicians and the criminal justice system to take stock of the evidence before them and respond by changing the law in favour of the ever-increasing number of cyclists (and other vulnerable road users).

    We all know that fear of court is the most efficient means of lowering the road death mortality rate. Exceeding the speed limit and unauthorised parking are punishable offences, whereas killing a cyclist comes with no consequences. At the outcome of the Inquest Marie was condemned (to death), but the two car drivers are still able to continue driving without any restrictions.

    We want to prevent other parents from living through such a difficult bereavement. Our daughter died five years ago on the 4 June 2008, but for the police, justice system and drivers nothing happened that day!

    In memory of Marie and so many other cyclists and pedestrians killed on the roads, we are fighting for a radical change in attitude and behaviours so that we, and our rights, are respected.

    Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists should be recognised as vulnerable road users and the appropriate safeguards should be in place, as is the case in most European countries.

    Parents and friends of Marie Vesco
    Contact address:
    remembering_marie at

    In French:
    « Bike ride » en mémoire de Marie Vesco
    Marie Vesco, jeune cycliste française de 19ans, est décédée sur l’A23 le 4/06/2008, fauchée par une voiture et écrasée par celle qui la suivait.

    (Aucune) Nulle condamnation, nulle sanction pour les deux conducteurs n’ont été prononcées  à la suite de ce décès.
    Ce bike ride est un hommage dédié à la mémoire de Marie Vesco et destiné à interpeller les  autorités britanniques sur l’insécurité des cyclistes en Grande Bretagne et l’urgence à remédier au nombre toujours trop élevé de cyclistes et piétons tués sur les routes.

    Les 4 et 5 juin 2013, 5 ans après son décès les parents et amis de Marie se donneront rendez-vous sur l’A23, à l’endroit du crash et circuleront à vélo jusqu’à l’embarcadère du ferry à Portsmouth. De là seul les parents   continueront leur route à  vélo, jusqu’à La Rochelle ou Marie est enterrée.
    Ce  bike ride est aussi un plaidoyer en faveur de la reconnaissance du statut de personnes  vulnérables pour les cyclistes et piétons du principe de « strict liability » à l’encontre de conducteurs britanniques, comme  ce qui est pratiqué dans de très nombreux pays d’Europe.

    Pour  nous parents, il est inconcevable d’être soumis à la double peine, celle de perdre notre enfant et celle de  voir celle-ci-considérée comme un animal auquel on n’accorde aucune importance : Aucune sanction envers les conducteurs, (pas même un retrait de points sur le permis des automobilistes) signifie que le caractère humain de notre fille a été bafoué.

    A l’heure actuelle nous ne vivons pas en paix et Marie ne repose pas en paix. Il suffit juste d’imaginer les dégâts qu’une telle injustice peut provoquer dans le cœur et l’esprit d’une mère  traitée pour dépression depuis 5 ans qui ne peut  confier sa peine autour d’elle car en France personne n’arrive à croire ni imaginer que dans un grand pays civilisé comme la grande Bretagne aucune sanction n’est requise suite au décès accidentel d’un cycliste ou d’un piéton.

    Il est temps Messieurs les politiques anglais, que votre Police et votre Justice se rendent à l’évidence et agissent véritablement en faveur de la sécurité des cyclistes sur les routes

    Chacun sait que la répression est l’un des moyens les plus efficaces pour diminuer le nombre de morts sur les routes. D’autre part un automobiliste impuni est un récidiviste en puissance (et les cas ne sont pas rares en GB).

    Pourquoi un dépassement de vitesse autorisée ou un mauvais stationnement entrainent ils des sanctions alors que le décès d’un cycliste est considéré comme anodin et sans conséquence s. A l’issue de l’Inquest du 12  février 2009 le coroner a prononcé la phrase suivante : «  « It wouldappearthateithersingly or jointly Miss Vesco and the others drivers of the motorvehicules have misjudged the othersintendedpath » . Marie a été condamnée pour cet acte (condamnée à mort) mais les deux autres (conducteurs) ont pu continuer à conduire l’un son taxi, l’autre sa voiture,  sans le moindre ennui. Est-ce vraiment cela l’égalité entre les citoyens et une bonne gestion de la Police/Justice face aux dangers de la route.

    Nous militons à travers cette manifestation pour un changement radical des mentalités (comportements) afin qu’en mémoire de Marie et de tant d’autres cyclistes et piétons écrasés sur les routes, chacun ait droit au respect de sa personne et des ses droits : quelles que puissent être les raisons  la mort d’un cycliste ou d’un piéton doit systématiquement être condamnée par la Justice comme dans de nombreux pays d’Europe (dont la Grande Bretagne fait partie) .

    Nous voulons empêcher que d’autres parents vivent le même cauchemar et la même impuissance à accepter un deuil si difficile : Il y a 5 ans  le 4 juin 2008,  notre fille est décédée mais en fait pour la Police comme pour la Justice et  les conducteurs ce jour là rien n’est arrivé ! 
    Si , Il semblerait qu’un  animal ait  été écrasé …

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