The awful day I gave up my bike. For ever

Ed Smith
Published at 12:00AM, September 22 2012

Source: The Times

Ghost Bike

I used to cycle every day from West London to the Times office in Wapping. That changed permanently one morning last November. I saw the aftermath of an accident on The Highway, the major road just outside the Times building.

I didn’t see the accident itself, but the atmosphere around the scene was haunting. There was an urgent, fearful concern. You instantly knew that it was desperately serious.

I arrived in the office to learn that Mary Bowers, whose desk was a few feet from mine, had been hit by a lorry while cycling to work. Though she is making progress, Mary today remains “minimally conscious”.

I sold my bike and have never cycled in East London since.

In retrospect, I can see that there were two vastly contrasting experiences within my old cycle commute. The first half was a pleasure — cycling across Hyde Park and down Constitution Hill. But cycling from the City to Wapping, where heavy traffic descends and the cycle lanes can disappear without warning, was perilous.

I can’t believe I ever risked it.