About “Bikes Alive” (and some history)

Bikes Alive was established to facilitate nonviolent direct action in defence of the life and safety of cyclists (and pedestrians) in London, in the face of official policies which pander to the most anti-social, dangerous, and selfish behaviour of many motorists. Lobbying and symbolic action is insufficient. We need to assert our right to move peacefully and safely round the streets of our city: we need to resist!

Some history:

No doubt there are plenty of cyclists who moan about the imbalance of power on the roads, where human beings are made subservient to motor vehicles (often with “official” support). Some campaigns work on this issue – though mostly by lobbying and symbolic action; and some individuals undertake lone acts of resistance. But, some people realised, organised resistance was needed – both to actively defend ourselves, and to shake up awareness and consciousness.

So these people talked about it and grumbled to one another.

A few such people were on the demonstration organised by London Cycling Campaign and others on Blackfriars Bridge in October, to protest – again – about the plans to change the road layout to prioritise vehicle speed and to simultaneously make it more dangerous for both cyclists and pedestrians. There must have been 2000 of us on Blackfriars Bridge that evening, but after we’d gone once each way over the bridge, the LCC stewards were rushing around saying to everyone “well done kiddies, now go off home and don’t cause any fuss…”, or words to that effect. Some of us – both LCC members and non-members – were gobsmacked. If just a fraction of us had gone back and forth over the bridge a few more times, we could have closed the bridge down for an hour or so, and been noticed, and maybe then Transport for London would have taken us seriously. As it is, nothing at all has come of the Blackfriars campaign apart from some self-congratulatory pictures on the LCC website. (Sorry if you think this is too harsh… but this is how some of us felt.)

So we grumbled yet more.

Then, on the Tuesday before Christmas, there was a vigil at Kings Cross over the number of cyclists killed in London during the year. In the run-up to the vigil, the grumbling finally burst into action. An inaugural event was decided upon; an e-mail address was set up (BikesAlive@London.com); a leaflet was produced – the text of which is virtually the same as the text of the first item (“Killing of cyclists: enough is enough”) on the front page of this website – about an hour-and-a-half prior to the vigil; and some of the leaflets were distributed at the vigil. Soon afterwards, this website was set up too.

Some of the reaction was positive, and the initiators got stuck in to the many tasks needed if the event which had been announced was to really happen. Quite a few days’ work later, with the Monday approaching, we wonder what will become of the campaign of which this is the history… If there’s enough interest, it might turn into quite a lively resistance movement. If hardly anyone wants to get very involved, then it won’t. We’ll find out soon enough.

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