Remembering Marie and the need for civil justice

Five years ago on June 4th, Marie Vesco was cycling to an anti-arms protest in Brighton. But her mission of peace ended in violence.

First hit by a car exiting the A23, Marie was then run over and killed by a car  following behind that could not stop in time. Neither driver was charged with causing her death or even Driving without Due Care and Attention. Marie was French and her family have yet to get over their shock at the disregard that drivers are allowed to show cyclists and pedestrians in England.

To mark the fifth anniversary of her death, her family and friends have organised a memorial bike ride in honour of Marie, and are calling for the introduction of presumed liability. They are desperate for their daughter’s death to make a difference in reducing the risk to others, just as Marie was trying to do the day she was killed.  RoadPeace’s updated briefing, Presumed liability – for fairer and faster justice, is dedicated to Marie.

That same day also saw the launch of CtC’s Road Justice campaign. RoadPeace has worked closely with CtC over the years and we welcome their increased commitment to justice.

Any justice campaign should progress on two fronts: while we fight for improved criminal prosecution and more appropriate punishment, we must also make progress on civil justice. Presumed liability facilitates fairer and faster compensation for injured pedestrians and cyclists and, by encouraging attentive driving, should make the roads safer for those choosing active modes.

Marie’s death could easily have been prevented. Of course neither car driver intended to kill her, but did they make enough  effort to avoid risking a collision? A debate on the duty of care motorists owe to more vulnerable road users is long overdue, and Marie’s family and friends are right to campaign for a change in liability.