Monday 9 January 2012 (and onwards…)
Thanks to everyone who attended, supported or publicised the event on Monday evening.
Around 200 people (and several charming dogs) were present. There were plenty of cyclists, and also lots of pedestrians involved. It took a while to get going – partly because some key people were busy with the media, partly because the most picturesque bike took a while to erect, and partly because of the excellent lack of leaders.
A good number of police were also present, and plenty of mainstream and less mainstream press.
Once people got out onto the road, at about 6.15pm, self-organisation and semi-organised chaos won through, and the demonstration made itself felt. Several parts of the Kings Cross road system were at least intermittently at a standstill between then and just after 7pm. A subsequent re-run of radio traffic reports from the time of the demonstration confirmed that, for instance, between 6.30pm and 7pm traffic coming into Kings Cross on Euston Road was backing up to the Euston Underpass.
A few attributes of some well-known campaigners were newly discovered (newly, that is, by at least by some of those present) – such as Jenny Jones’s whistling skills, and Tamsin Omond’s ability to loudly lead a chant at a blockaded road junction.
The police behaviour was pretty reasonable; they no doubt had no more idea of what to expect than the event’s kind-of-organisers did.
The following links to stories and (especially) pictures and videos which appeared online in the 24 hours after the demonstration give a fair idea of the nature of the event.
There needs to be a little more time for assessment of what happened, in order to have some sensible strategising for the future.
To those of you impatient for the next Bikes Alive event to be as soon as possible, there are two points to remember…
Firstly, there’s a great deal of time and energy involved in publicising and promoting an event like this; the existing “team” definitely can’t do it again on its own. If there were just a few people who were seriously committed to putting in the concentrated burst of work needed to push out the word about the next public event, then it could happen very very soon. (But it’s crucial that successive events grow rather than shrink. Monday’s did turn out to be just big enough to be worthwhile; there’s no point in another one of this sort that isn’t likely to be at least as large.) Issues of frequency and regularity are important to get right in terms of building on this week’s momentum, and decisions on these matters need to emerge within days. Will you be part of what emerges?
Secondly, not all Bikes Alive events need to be the same sort. There’s lots of scope for guerilla actions, unannounced, with much smaller numbers, in self-organised groups, able to spring a surprise road closure which could be very effective if the time and place were well chosen. But when any of you do this, remember to get word out to the media very quickly afterwards (otherwise much of the point is lost), and remember to tell the rest of us, by e-mailing the news to Bikes Alive and other campaigning groups – that way we’re all inspired to do more of the same!
Lastly, if there are people enthused enough by Monday to be willing to meet face to face to work on future strategies, and take on tasks, they need to be prepared to have that meeting in the coming days. Are you willing and able to meet at short notice? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.