We can make change happen

John Stewart (who is a key campaigner for the Stop Heathrow’s 3rd runway campaign) became RoadPeace Chair in late 1996. He has written a thought piece.  He’s a fantastic campaigner, and now an advisor – his input is immensely valuable to RoadPeace.  Many thanks John for writing this piece.


Take a look at this picture. It should give hope to all of us campaigning for change. It is from London in the early 1980s. Disabled people, part of the Disability Action Network, are blocking buses in Oxford Street in Central London, calling for them to become fully accessible.


At the time they were laughed out of court. They were told it would cost a fortune to make buses accessible.  And, if they were, other passengers wouldn’t stand for it. Timetables would be disrupted because it would take a wheelchair user 10 minutes to get onto the bus! Forty years on, London has the most accessible bus fleet of any major city in the world.


It may take decades but despair can turn to triumph. The impossible can become the norm.


In 1992 RoadPeace was founded by Brigitte Chaudhry after her son, Mansoor, was killed by a red light offender in 1990.  It can be difficult to recall just how poorly road traffic victims were treated at the time. Thirty years ago road traffic victims were yesterday’s headlines, unheard, unhelped, left to fend for themselves. When I chaired RoadPeace in its early years, it seemed we had a mountain called Everest to climb every day.


I know there is still much to be done, but RoadPeace’s history can give us hope.


RoadPeace is also credited with being the first FEVR (European Federation of Road Traffic Victims) member organization to organize church services in remembrance of road traffic victims in 1994. Brigitte Chaudhry urged FEVR to establish a special Remembrance Day for Road Victims to be held in the countries of all their members, which was readily agreed. This Day, observed internationally since 1995 on the 3rd Sunday each November, became today’s World Day of Remembrance adopted by the UN in 2005 and now commemorated on every continent. FEVR was founded by a bereaved father from Switzerland, Prof. Marcel Haegi.


Change can and does happen. What we are doing today may seem at times to be going nowhere. But, remember, what we are doing today may be sowing the seeds of significant change in the future. Just ask those wheelchair users.