RoadPeace first introduced the Remember Me sign in 2003, to commemorate the sites of road deaths and provide a permanent memorial for bereaved friends and families. It has since been used around the world by our members and those we support.
Read the launch speech by our former Chair, Cynthia Barlow, below to hear more about the background of our plaque
Remember Me Sign Launch Speech
Cynthia Barlow, RoadPeace Chair, London Wall, August 2003
My daughter was killed here three years ago. She was cycling to her work – her office was at the end of London Wall there – when she was knocked from her bike and run over by a cement lorry which turned left across her path to make a delivery to this building site. She was 26 and the most precious person in my life.
When I first came to this place, I found a notice on the lamppost from her colleagues and many bouquets of flowers, some from family and friends, but also some from complete strangers who wanted to let me know how her death had affected them. I collected all the messages and still have them.
My daughter suffered a violent, bloody, horrific, public, but solitary and lonely, death, and I leave flowers here on the anniversary of her death and at Christmas. Her colleagues leave flowers here when it is her birthday. A friend she was due to be a bridesmaid for had an extra bridesmaid’s bouquet made and left it here. So this is a significant place for me and why I want to place one of the ‘Remember Me’ signs here.
When the idea for the signs was first discussed, I did some research into the language of flowers in art history. In the ancient classical myth about Venus and Adonis, Venus, the goddess of love, loved the beautiful Adonis. In the story, Adonis was killed in the forest by a wild boar and, hearing his dying groans as she flew overhead in her chariot, Venus flew down to help him but she was too late. In the place where the earth was stained with the blood of Adonis, scarlet anemones sprouted. In Western art, the scarlet anemone has always been used as a symbol of love and loss. So it seemed right to choose for the sign a red flower that is shedding both blood and tears.
Red is also a warning sign – in traffic lights it is the sign to stop. When cars first appeared on the roads in this country, they were preceded by a man carrying a red flag to warn people of the oncoming danger.
Whenever there is a rail crash or some other dreadful event in which several people are killed, a sign or some other memorial is erected to commemorate those who died. Generally road deaths are solitary events, but they are no less dreadful, just because they receive less public attention. That is why we thought it right to remind people that a real living person died a cruel death here, by saying ‘Remember Me’ on the sign.
The purpose of the sign is to provide a memorial place for the victim and the bereaved family and also to remind the public about the need to take extra care on the roads and to raise the profile of road deaths as a public health issue. But there is also an additional purpose for me.
Those of us who are bereaved have experienced careless inquests, flawed police investigations and incompetent criminal prosecutions. So the red in this sign is also for me a wake-up call and a red warning light to the criminal justice system.
Under the European law human rights provisions, we now have a right to a proper, thorough and transparent investigation of the circumstances of death when someone has been needlessly deprived of their life, and we will enforce that right.
With respect to commercial vehicles, some firms do take their responsibilities to other road users seriously but many do not. They still send out on to the road vehicles which are mechanically unfit to be there and drivers who are medically unfit to be there, they routinely pay their drivers to work over the legally prescribed hours and abuse the tachograph system. The law on corporate manslaughter will soon be changed, and we will ensure that it is enforced.
The procedures of the Coroners Service, the Police Service and the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to road victims have all been reviewed recently and proposals made for change. The red in this sign is a warning to the staff who work in these services that we demand and expect change. We are all road users, whether as drivers, cyclists or pedestrians and we all need the roads to be safe. We expect the criminal law to play its part in enforcing that principle. We expect that they will do the jobs that they are paid to do, properly and thoroughly. We are entitled to expect that the criminal justice system will deliver just that – justice – and we shall not rest until it does.
August 30 2003
Updated on: 23 February 2023