bikesalive

Cyclists and other people in London actively resisting oppression by motor vehicles

Month: February, 2012

As you were; and reports from Wednesday

AS YOU WERE!

The main Bikes Alive e-mail address (bikesalive@london.com) was back in use after a 24-hour hiatus, and seems to have been problem-free since then. So please revert to using that, rather than the temporary alternative notified previously. The spare address will be kept in case of further problems, but won’t be as frequently monitored as the original address … so please stop using it! Thanks.

If you sent an e-mail to Bikes Alive, at its regular address, at any time from Tuesday evening until Wednesday evening, please note that it wasn’t received. You might or might not have had an error message telling you that – but either way, can you please re-send the message (if you haven’t already).

WEDNESDAY’S CYCLE LOBBY OF PARLIAMENT

On Wednesday evening, hundreds of cyclists (initially), swelling to well over a thousand during the course of the ride, took part in a cycle lobby of parliament. Planned by two of London’s leading cycle bloggers/campaigners, together with the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), it was an attempt to influence official policies towards cycling – in London and nationally. Here are two different Bikes Alive takes on the event.

Report No 1

The mood on the ride was lively, and there was a fair amount of media interest – which included live coverage on the BBC’s London Region TV news, a report on ITV’s London Region news, and coverage on BBC Radio London; LCC declared the event a success. And the next day’s parliamentary debate on cycling safety was well-attended.

It felt good to be out on the streets with so many other cyclists – even more than on the largest Critical Mass ride – and there seemed to be quite a mix of cycling activists, and more “normal” people, including some from local LCC groups miles away from central London. The more large cycling events the better, to make clear the need for better provision for safe cycling on London’s roads.

Report No 2

We set off in high spirits, heading towards Admiralty Arch, from where we could swoop past Trafalgar Square and on down Whitehall – with enough of us, surely, to make a public impact. But the danger of our having any impact was neatly averted by stewards directing us to turn right down Horse Guards Road, the dark road running down the eastern side St James’s Park, behind Whitehall – just about the best road anywhere in central London to have an evening demonstration that no-one would notice.

Then, round Parliament Square … well, no, not round Parliament Square; just along two sides of it, and on along Millbank. Phew, another chance to make cyclists’ presence felt was neatly avoided. Just imagine what might have happened if a thousand cyclists took over Parliament Square for an hour or so – there might have been some political impact; but no danger of that, thank goodness! [As the Bikes Alive leaflet distributed to some of the riders on Wednesday night said: "What if the sorts of numbers that turn out on LCC symbolic actions were prepared to undertake something just a little more militant, and - rather than just a quick ride for a few minutes before going away - actually decided to reclaim some road space from motor vehicles for a bit longer?" Will we ever find out?]

On we went, over Lambeth Bridge, slowly back downstream to Westminster Bridge, and over the river to Parliament Square again. The ride was again shepherded briskly round the square, and into Whitehall this time, now the rush hour traffic had died down a bit. On we went, with stewards hollering at us not to get in the way of the traffic(!), then left at Trafalgar Square back to our starting point … for another photo opportunity.

What of the passers-by, on foot and in vehicles, who did notice us? Many of them asked us what was going on, and why there were so many cyclists. But the organisers had taken the precaution of not producing any leaflets for us to give to people – so, another risk of getting our message across was averted!

The self-congratulatory tone of the write-up of the event on the LCC website is slightly offset by a statement that they/we shouldn’t be “satisfied with the crumbs the Prime Minister offered [in answer to a parliamentary question on Wednesday], nor the limited ambition of the Mayor of London Boris Johnson”. Indeed we shouldn’t be; but what makes LCC think that working with the powers that be, and never making a fuss, will ever change that?

And why are LCC afraid to say anything about the need to severely limit car use in London – without which, LCC’s laudable aims are logically unattainable?

And what hope is there that LCC could ever take a more challenging approach when it’s busy administering tens of thousands of pounds of cycling grant money [see www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/media/newscentre/22902.aspx] on behalf of the Mayor’s Transport for London … the very body which has a policy of changing road junctions to make them more dangerous for cyclists and which LCC is supposed to be challenging.

A final vignette from Wednesday evening: At the end of the ride, when the last Bikes Alive leaflets were being given out, one of the recipients leant towards the leafleter with a look of concern on his face – what did the leafleter know about Bikes Alive? Were they aware that it had been set up by an anarchist trouble-maker? Sharp intakes of breath all round…

REMEMBER NEXT THURSDAY AT ARCHWAY…

Don’t forget that the next Bikes Alive outing is on Thursday 1 March, at Archway, in support of local campaigners – see www.2wayarchway.org.uk. And if you have anything resembling cats’ ears…

LASTLY, SOME LINKS

A few examples of recent Bikes Alive coverage:

www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2012/feb/ghost-riders-–-cyclists-king’s-cross-go-slow-protest
kingscrossenvironment.com/2012/02/20/transport-for-london-responds-to-kx-road-safety-concerns-by-making-it-worse
www.demotix.com/news/1064784/bikes-alive-attempts-calm-traffic-kings-cross-during-rush-hour

Some other items of interest:

www.jennyforlondon.org/launching-the-see-me-save-me-campaign-with-roadpeace
www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3322652.ece
www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2012/02/to-christina-patterson-an-elegy-to-an-eyesore

Communication problems; and a change of scene

BIKES ALIVE E-MAIL ADDRESS

There have been some problems with the Bikes Alive e-mail address since last night. If you’ve sent a message to BikesAlive@london.com which has bounced, please re-send it to the following temporary address: bikesalive@hushmail.com. It’s hoped this will be a temporary problem: keep an eye on this website for news.

A CHANGE OF SCENE

The next “official” Bikes Alive outing will be at Archway, rather than at Kings Cross. On Thursday 1 March, at 6.15pm, we’ll be meeting in Archway Close, London N19, in the middle of the massive roundabout at the centre of the Archway gyratory system (right by Highgate tube station), in support of a long-running local campaign to calm and humanise the roads at Archway. Pedestrians and cyclists will be circling the system to reclaim – for a little while – some road space for human beings. See www.2wayarchway.org.uk for lots of background to this campaign. Note in particular, given the famous (Archway-related) historical tale of a mayor of London and his cat, that participants are encouraged to dig out any cat costumes they might have to hand/paw.

OTHER IMMINENT LONDON CYCLING EVENTS

1)  On the eve of a House of Commons debate on cycle safety, there will be a mass bike ride past parliament this evening, “to draw attention to the drastic changes needed to make London’s streets truly safe and inviting for cycling and walking”.

Initiated by two excellent London cycling blog-sites (Cyclists in the City, and I Bike London, the duo who also initiated the Tour de Danger around some of London’s most dangerous junctions one Saturday morning a few months back), the event is also backed by the London Cycling campaign (LCC) – which means it’s likely to involve a lot of cyclists. (And which also means it’s likely to be very brief, and to avoid at all costs inconveniencing motorists … unless there are lots of people who refuse to obey orders…)

Cyclists are invited to meet at the Duke of York steps on The Mall (at 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start) for the ride.

2)  And don’t forget that this Friday, 24 February, being the last Friday in the month, will see the regular Critical Mass bike ride. Celebrating the change in the balance of power on London’s streets when there are hundreds of cyclists around in one place, it will meet as usual outside the NFT bar, under the south end of Waterloo Bridge, between 6pm and 6.30pm. By 7pm it will move off to wherever the fancy takes it/them/us.

Remember Monday 20th; and Hackney news

MONDAY 20th – A LATER START

Because of many people’s preference, Bikes Alive’s next Kings Cross one-hour go-slow starts – as previously announced – at 6.30pm. However, there have also been comments of the sort, “Whenever you start, people will turn up late…” Can we prove the latter pessimists wrong? We’ll see.

HACKNEY PEDESTRIAN CROSSING ACTION

In yet another – sadly not rare – example of Transport for London making road changes which increase the danger for cyclists and/or pedestrians, they plan to remove a pedestrian crossing at the junction of Rivington Street and Curtain Road, in Shoreditch. There was a demonstration there this week (see london.indymedia.org/events/11652), and local campaigners would welcome support – contact hackneydisabilitybackup@yahoo.com.

REPORTS OF LAST WEEK’S BIKES ALIVE EVENT

The Times – which has kept its Safe Cycling Campaign going for a fortnight now – had coverage in last Tuesday’s paper of the previous night’s Bikes Alive event; they also had even better coverage on their website (see www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3311705.ece#tab-3), with a video and interviews, giving an explicit name-check to Bikes Alive for the first time in their campaign. For all the obvious limitations and inadequacies of the paper’s stance (which you’d expect, of course), it has nevertheless been an important component of the pressure – especially in London – which is getting issues relating to cycling safety increasingly visible in the public and political arena.

Some other coverage of interest (mostly, but not exclusively, relating to Bikes Alive) can be found at:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-16874726
www.bigsmoke.org.uk/?p=34650
twowheelsandbeyond.blogspot.com/2012/02/next-bikes-alive-protest-at-kings-cross.html
www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16244
www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2012/02/07/julian-sayarer/going-slow
www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2012/feb/biographer-sonia-purnell-claims-boris-johnson-has-failed-deliver-promises-reducing-cyc
www.hurrayforbikes.co.uk/2012/01/bikes-alive.html#!/2012/01/bikes-alive.html

Note the interesting debate on the website of the London Review of Books!

And lastly, Resonance FM’s weekly bike programme included a little outside broadcast from Kings Cross during the last event: see thebikeshow.net/londoners-on-bikes-with-votes.

Monday 20 February announcement (and more!)

STAND BY YOUR BIKES! The next Kings Cross Bikes Alive event is after the usual fortnightly interval, on Monday 20 February. But please note the start time is half an hour later, since some would-by Bikes Alivers are continuing to have trouble getting to Kings Cross by 6pm.

Further news and information will follow shortly – once the website person has completed their flu recovery.

Urgent last-minute notification

Many of you will already have picked up on this: but in case you haven’t, note that there’s a memorial ride for Henry Warwick this evening (Friday 10 February). He was a well-loved member of the bike courier community, and was killed by a coach (just a week ago) at the junction of Bishopsgate and Wormwood Street, in the City. Fellow couriers – and some others – will be meeting at The Foundry [albeit that the famous pub of that name closed a while back], Great Eastern Street, near the junction with Old Street, EC2.

Please note that it’s a memorial ride, not a protest; but it’s expected to include a go-slow to the site of the death. The start time is not too clear, but it’s unlikely to set off much before 7pm!

 

Monday 6 February action: reminder – and news

As announced in the last posting, there’s another Bikes Alive event at Kings Cross, on Monday 6 February, 6pm-7pm. See the last posting for a map/flyer that you can use to help publicise it. And if you find that this cartoon is useful too…

For other publicity leaflets, go to http://t.co/tAQgA0LK, where you can download and print off artwork for sheets of little monochrome equivalents of the map design from the last posting. Please make good use of these materials in your local area – you can take them to local bike shops, cycling groups, and so on. Or produce your own publicity and organise your own networking!

Why still Kings Cross?

The current Bikes Alive strategy is to keep up the pressure at just one of the places where change is needed (until there are so many Bikes Alive activists that road closures are happening all over London every day, that is…), and Kings Cross is a place where Transport for London (TfL) might be especially vulnerable.

There’s quite a surge in concern at the moment about the way road traffic policies – especially in London – affect cyclists. Even The Times gave over its front page on Thursday 2 February to launch a campaign to improve the safety of cycling (see the on-line version here: www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3306502.ece). Other national dailies have covered the Bikes Alive campaign specifically; and there’s been both general cycling safety coverage, and specifically Bikes Alive coverage, in London-wide media. This, and the work of many other cycling campaigns and websites, has all helped to stir up quite a public hubbub about cycle safety in the run up to the Greater London elections (for the Mayor and the Assembly) in May. And after all, since transport is the one thing which is largely devolved to London, it probably is – in practical terms as opposed to political posturing (by both candidates and lobbyists) – the most important issue in the election campaign.

Even more specifically at Kings Cross, we have two local papers (covering the two boroughs that meet at Kings Cross) running stories about the safety of the Kings Cross road system week after week, and – in their on-line editions – generating quite a debate over whether Bikes Alive is using the right tactics (see, for example, www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2012/jan/‘you-ride-too-rough’-london-cycling-campaign-lcc-refuse-back-safety-protests). On top of that, the wonderful community website for Kings Cross (kingscrossenvironment.com) has helped to rally lots of vocal and practical support for the campaign to make the area’s roads safer.

(And, not least, the one thing TfL does plan for Kings Cross will speed up traffic and makes things even more dangerous for cyclists.)

Competition news

Hurry, hurry! There’s a competition to design a logo, or another logo, or lots of logos, for Bikes Alive – see everythingpopulariswrong.com/bikes-alive-logo-contest for more information.

RoadPeace

In case you’re not familiar with the excellent folks at RoadPeace, check them out for news of their work. And in particular, they’re launching their new Save Me See Me campaign to reduce lorry danger at 2pm on Sunday 5 February, at the site of the ghost bike in Notting Hill Gate (just west of the Underground station): see their press release for further information.

Other coverage of Bikes Alive

These are a few more examples of recent coverage of Bikes Alive:

www.demotix.com/news/1015870/bikes-alive-organise-second-go-slow-demonstration-kings-cross
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh2IruawCJM
www.bigsmoke.org.uk/?p=30130
www.artslondonnews.co.uk/20120201-cycling-campaign
www.thefreshoutlook.com/?p=9594
www.bikinglondon.com/2012/01/27/citys-biggest-bike-user-campaign-group-refuses-to-back-rush-hour-roadblock

But please don’t assume that even friendly coverage (or alleged quotes from Bikes Alive) can be relied upon to be 100% accurate!!

And finally…

Remember, if you want to contact Bikes Alive, including to ask to be on the mailing list, please e-mail bikesalive@london.com. And if you’re on Twitter, you can keep up to date by following @BikesAlive, and by watching out for #bikesalive.

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