10:00am Thursday 11th June 2009
A roadside tribute to a student killed while cycling has been removed – less than a week after it was put up.
French student Marie Vesco was hit by a car and run over by a second as she rode along the A23 to Brighton last June.
As a memorial, her family and friends chained a painted white bike,
known as a “ghost bike”, to a lamp post at the scene on Thursday – a
year to the day of the incident.
But on Tuesday, the Highways Agency took it away, claiming it was a
health and safety hazard as it would potentially distract drivers along
the busy road.
Ghost bikes are commonly left as tributes to cyclists who lose their lives on the roads.
One appeared at the junction of Devil’s Dyke Road and Saddlescombe
Road north of Hove to mark the spot where 23-year-old James
Danson-Hatcher was hit by a car in April last year.
A spokesman for the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership said roadside
tributes were normally permitted to be left for 12 weeks after a fatal
accident after which are removed and stored.
If they are then not claimed by friends or family of the victim they will then be disposed of.
He said the decision to remove this particular tribute was taken by
the Highways Agency as the A23 is its responsibility but added that
such a memorial on any road would be deemed a distraction and quickly
Since Marie’s tragic death, her parents Jacques and Dominique Vesco
and her boyfriend Seb Achaibou have campaigned for cycle lane signage
along the busy road to be improved.
Speaking yesterday, Seb told The Argus he understood why the bike
had been removed but said he found the 12-week limit for tributes
He said: “Most families would want to leave a tribute at the anniversary of an accident.
“It is hard for people to be organised enough to get one put up right away.”
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “We sympathise with Marie’s family. It is a terrible thing to have to deal with.
“The bike was a touching memorial but roads are dangerous places and we have to make sure that they are safer.”