Suzanna Bull - Cyclists Hold a Vigil in Remembrance and Protest After Doctor Killed in Road Traffic Accident
On Monday the 16th of October nearly five hundred cyclists from all over Birmingham gathered together to hold a slow ride and vigil for Suzzie Bull and all of those who are killed or injured on the roads of our city and around our country. Story and photographs below.
A Powerful Stand and a Call to Action
Many powerful moments happen in this city, although we do not always here about them. On the evening of Monday the 16th of October approaching 500 cyclists gathered to remember Suzzie Bull, a Doctor who lost her life in a fatal road traffic collision, and to protest to West Midlands regional mayor Andy Street that something be done. Mr Street, in his election campaign, said the wanted to "improve our transport system after years of neglect".
The event, reported here by the BBC, was organised by Reverend Andi Smith, a former Minister in our Circuit who is currently taking time out of his Methodist ministry and is Managing Director of his cycling business, Urban Cycles. The event was run with the help of many, including Doctor Ian Wacogne, who worked with Suzzie. Our Communications Officer, Tom Milton, was one of those who attended and writes about the event...
Having just returned home from work on my bike, it wasn't long before I was on my way out the door again, carefully riding back into the fading windy edge of storm Ophelia. I've only been cycling to work for a few months. It is a return to a hobby I enjoy, an attempt to get fitter, and an opportunity to get to my office five mile away in under 20 minutes rather than the 45-60 it takes on the bus. I was determined to attend, to add my voice to the protest, it hasn't taken me long to discover the hopeless inadequacy of our city's cycle infrastructure. I also wanted to take the opportunity to remember Suzzie Bull, someone I had never met, but I could vividly imagine how easily it could be any cyclist to have been in her place.
I was an emotional experience. As I headed off, under the clock tower on the University Campus, somewhere near the start of the queue of 500 people, it felt good to be silently riding along with them. There were cycling clubs who had come, families, individuals, commuters, so many people. The atmosphere was charged with emotion, you could see it people's eyes - a passion for wanting change, the empathy for Suzzie and her family. After 15-20 minutes we arrived, with our police escort, to a grass area adjacent to the junction where Suzzie died. We listened as her colleague, Ian, described Suzzie and committed himself to fighting for change. We joined with Andi as he lead a minutes silence and gave time for people to light candles in remembrance. We stood quietly and we remembered Suzzie and the many people who are injured and killed in our country doing what they love each year. Then we cycled home, moved by the experience, more hungry for change than before. I cycled home with a lovely group of people from a local cycling club who I'd not met before but were going in my direction.
So - what was my protest? One of the main things which had previously put me off cycling into my city centre office from my home in Quinton (SW of the city) was a complete lack of cycling infrastructure in our part of the city (or for that matter anywhere). The majority of my journey would either be in congested main road traffic or navigating queues of cars on the side roads. In the end I've found that largely I choose the latter, the main roads are just too dangerous in rush hour. Through a bit of research after hearing of Suzzie's death I am moved by several thoughts...
- The Council have been give millions of pounds to create a better cycling infrastructure. Very little has changed or been spent in FIVE YEARS!!!
- We keep talking about having a greener city, less pollution and less car fumes. Why on earth aren't we making one half of every dual carriage way into cycle/bus lanes? Put a cycle bridge in! It'd be a tourist attraction! If people's choice was either get stuck in traffic or enjoy a lovely ride/bus into work with lots of other people, who on earth would choose the former?
- I am aware I don't have all the answers, but you don't have to look very far to see that our European neighbours have written several books worth of them on the subject!
Let us create change.
Why did I want to remember? A young woman, my age, with her life ahead of her, died. I later found out we have mutual friends. We don't know the circumstances of the accident, but what we do know is that if there had been the infrastructure to protect her then whatever happened at that fatal moment might not have happened. It is good to remember all those who lose their lives in our city, nation and world in whatever way, but this was my moment to remember those who lost their lives doing something that I personally love, riding my bike.
Birmingham Methodist Circuit joins with others around the city in praying for the family of Suzzie Bull and of all those affected by cycling deaths and accidents. If this is you and you would like the support of your local Minister or Church, you can use our Minister Finder or our Church Finder to get in touch.
What can you do?
Sign the Petition
Make your church a bike friendly church
Why not ask yourselves a question in your own church, is it bike friendly? Is there somewhere to lock a bike up? Places to change? Is it easy to get on site if you cycle?
Cyclists gather at Birmingham University by the clock tower.
Cyclists brace themselves against the edge of storm Ophelia's edge as winds remain high.
The almost five hundred strong string of cyclists proceed at a slow pace to the place where Suzzie was killed, accompanied by the West Midlands Police.
A shot of the cyclists stretching back into the distance.
The group gathers in a circle to hear an address from a colleague Doctor Ian Wacogne from Birmingham Children's Hospital and words from Reverend Andi Smith a Methodist Minister and Bike Shop Owner.
Doctor Ian Wacogne speaks to the assembled crowd.
Candles are lit for Suzzie Bull after a minutes silence.