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This evenings post was going to be one of “Woe is me”, what with my bad knee, the 3lbs I put on at weightwatchers and the twelve hour shifts my fiance is currently doing hence the fact I’m finding it hard to get out for a run. But something happened this morning during London’s busy rush hour (whilst I was still sleeping I might add) that would show me this evening that I have nothing to be woeful for and everything to be grateful for.

At about 08:45 GMT at Bow Roundabout which is literally 5 minutes up the road from me, a woman, in her mid-20s, was pronounced dead at the scene after being knocked off her bicycle by a lorry. This is incredibly, incredibly sad and way too close to home making me think about how easily that could have been me.

I took up cycling years ago before I got into my running as it seemed like a good way to fit exercise into my day, whilst saving money on tube fares. I worked in London Bridge at the time so cycled daily past Bow Roundabout which was always quite hairy. When I moved jobs, I still continued to cycle but in the opposite direction towards Essex which seemed a little safer, but only just.

Since having my daughter Rose in January I have been on my bike maybe twice, and both times it was along the greenway which is free of traffic. I have simply lost my bottle. There have been 12 cyclist deaths in London so far this year, that is twelve deaths too many. The woman from this morning, who I assume was making her way to work is at present still unnamed but is the third cyclist killed at Bow Roundabout in two years. Ironically the crash happened about 10m away from some flowers left for another cyclist who died. Brian Dorling, 58, and Svitlana Tereschenko, 34, were killed in separate crashes on the painted blue Cycle Superhighway 2 (CS2) at Bow Roundabout in November 2011.

I saw this on the news briefly at lunchtime but didn’t really take it in.

This evening my partner came homeat 7pm, rather than the 11.30pm which he has been doing most nights recently. His first words were “Do you wanna go for a run?”, I didn’t if truth be known but only an hour or so earlier at my weekly weightwatchers meeting I found out I’d put on 3lbs this week, so I reasoned with myself, got my kit on and headed out the door into the freeze your-bits-off cold.

My legs felt ok, and I think I felt reasonably strong as I plodded along my “pretty shitty city” route, an out and back route from my house around the roundabout at Bow and back, a short route I do when I don’t have the time or inclination to run any further. As I approached the slip road taking me down to the roundabout I saw the crowd and then the tea lights on the floor and I remembered what had happened this morning. The London Cycling Campaign were holding a protest, apparently hundreds of cyclists gathered there from about 18:30 for a vigil, but it was past eight now and I think I was just getting the back end of it.

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Vigil at Bow Roundabout

 

I took off my earphones, stopped mygarmin and just stood in silence with the other people who had come to show their support, condolences…anger at what had taken place.

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Bow Roundabout

Now I could have a massive rant now about the money which is being pumped into cycling in London and how effective it is, or how inconsiderate and dangerous some drivers are, but I am not going to. Instead I am thinking this evening about just how lucky I am to be alive and to be able to go out for an evening run, even in the dark and the cold.

 

The run back home seemed a lot harder somehow, as my heart was heavy and I was thinking about the implications of coming to an untimely death myself as a result of my pursuit for fitness. Morbid I know. But since becoming a mother I have been forced to look at life in this way. I am also dealing with a few health issues at present so these thoughts of mortality are at the forefront of my mind right now. Gone are the days when I can take stupid risks, gone are the days when I can abuse my body and not care about the consequences. I have responsibilities now, and not only to Rose but to myself, my partner and my wider family.

I did think though when I do eventually die, you know in like 40 – 50 years, after my children have grown up and had their own children, when I am a respected author and public speaker, and of course an ultra marathon runner, I think the following inscription on my grave or in my obituary would be quite fitting.

“Julie Creffield, 1978 – ????. Writer, Runner & General Busybody. She may have walked, or even crawled at times but she never ever stopped.

My thought are with the friends and family of the lady who died this morning near my home. Please be safe people. In your cars, on your bikes and out on your runs. Look out and look after one another, and look after yourself. And if you are ever in two minds about whether to go for a run, do it…as tomorrow may never come.

  1. November 15, 2013

    We don’t have as many deaths here in Southampton, being a much smaller, quieter city, but we have too many. A young woman I used to see riding to work every morning across the bridge, singing at the top of her voice, was killed by a lorry on a corner a couple of years back. Very morning I walked past the flowers and thought of her. Life is way too short.

  2. November 15, 2013

    Great thoughts, thanks for sharing.

  3. November 14, 2013

    Thank you.

    • November 14, 2013

      Just read your post Andy about getting up early…I think I may do the same tomorrow #noexcuses

  4. November 14, 2013

    Very moving Julie. My husband cycles 20 miles daily to work in all weather and my heart is in my mouth each time I don’t hear from him. I have a shorter cycle but have been knocked off a few times and have often heard “I didn’t see you”. Both me and my husband are lit up like beacons in our high vis and flashing lights so I can only think that they didn’t see because they didn’t look. As a cyclist and driver, I try to be considerate to both. Rant over. Thinking of the cyclists who died and their friends and families. Like you, I am aware of my mortality since having my daughter, even more so since losing my Mum and I can’t imagine the pain that the mothers
    of these cyclists feel or indeed any parent who has lost a child.

  5. Thank you, Julie. Well written and moving. I like your epitaph by the way, hope it’s not needed for at least half a century!

  6. November 13, 2013

    A poignant post. Thanks.

  7. My husband was hit once in Chicago — doored by a driver not paying attention when he was on his bike. TERRIFYING.

  8. November 13, 2013

    I found that an incredibly powerful and moving post. Thank you so much for writing and sharing it. A timely reminder to embrace the day, as you never know what’s round the corner.

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