As you were; and reports from Wednesday

by bikesalive

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

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