bikesalive

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

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More on defending the Critical Mass 9

For more information about the support campaign for the CM9 – those of the 182 cyclists arrested last July who are now facing trial  – there is now a dedicated website: see here.

The trial is likely to run for at least a week, and takes place at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, 181 Marylebone Road, London NW1 (near the western end of Marylebone Road, just before the Old Marylebone Road junction and the flyover). If for any reason you aren’t arriving by bike, the nearest underground stations are Marylebone on the Bakerloo Line, and Edgware Road on the District, [no longer really a] Circle, and Hammersmith Lines.

You can also contact the defence campaign via CM9Support@riseup.net. But in any case, do turn up at the court in the coming days and show your support!

Defend the Critical Mass 9

The 9 cyclists facing criminal charges after daring to be on the streets on their bikes on the last Friday of the month last July appear in court on Monday 25 February.

Remember how the police purported to tell some of the London Critical Mass participants, that month, that they were banned from cycling north of the river? And remember how people choosing to move around London by other means didn’t face such attempted restrictions? And remember how 182 cyclists ended up being arrested, held overnight, and their bikes impounded? Well, 9 of those 182 cyclists are – finally – facing trial.

If you agree that cycling is not a crime, and that cyclists who are simply cycling, and not part of a demonstration, should not be picked on, then support the defendants! The court case is likely to run for several days, at least.

The trial takes place at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, 181 Marylebone Road, London NW1. It’s near the western end of Marylebone Road, just before the Old Marylebone Road junction and the flyover. If for any reason you aren’t arriving by bike, the nearest underground stations are Marylebone on the Bakerloo Line, and Edgware Road on the District, [no longer really a] Circle, and Hammersmith Lines.

There’s expected to be a lot of cyclists around the court from 9am on the first day of the trial…

If you want to make contact with the defence campaign, you can do so via CM9Support@riseup.net. But in any case, turn up at the court any time in the next few days and show your support!

Critical Mass alert

You will probably remember the disruption of last month’s Critical Mass bike ride by the police (see the brief account below). Hence the importance of a good turn-out this month (ie Friday 31 August), to show that cyclists won’t accept restrictions that aren’t placed on other road users, and aren’t going to accept intimidation by the police, and will insist on our right to move peacefully around our city by bike as usual, wherever the mood takes us.

NOW READ ON…

In the last day or so, information has emerged of what seems to be a new “under cover” attempt to disrupt the August CM ride. An individual has asked for, and received, permission from the police to organise a bike ride on Friday evening, with a pre-approved route, starting at the same time and place as the regular CM ride (ie meeting 6pm onwards under the south end of Waterloo Bridge, by the river).

By definition, this ride is not a CM event, for which there are never advance plans for routes, destinations, etc; there never can be a “planned” CM event, since there is no-one and no CM structure to take any such decision.

It’s hard to think of any reason for this individual’s personal application to the police, other than as a deliberate attempt to cause confusion and to give the Met an opening to disrupt – or try to take charge of – the ride again this month.

It was always going to be important to have a good turn-out this month. With this latest news, that good turn-out, and our insistence on travelling where we want to without needing police permission, is even more essential.

It would be helpful if people would urgently circulate this information as widely as possible, and encourage cyclists to turn out on Friday evening in the normal spirit of a free CM ride that requires no sanction from, and accepts no control by, the police, and which ignores attempts by anyone to take control of the ride.

 

The Critical Mass 182 defence meeting

As reported previously, there was a meeting being held last week in defence of the 182 cyclists arrested in London on Friday 27 July, when the Met Police worked themselves up into an Olympics-induced hysteria on the night of the opening ceremony of the Games.

To save time in getting a report from that meeting published here, it’s easiest to just refer you to the report on the website of the Counter Olympics Network (it was CON which initiated the meeting, in liaison with Green and Black Cross who are working on the defence of the 182).

A key thing to note is the importance of those arrested linking up with Green and Black Cross (GBC) – so please spread this message far and wide:
If you were one of the 182 cyclists arrested on 27 July, and aren’t already in touch with GBC, then e-mail gbclegal@riseup.net as a matter of urgency.

 

Defend the Critical Mass 182!

Most people reading this are likely to know about the arrest of 182 cyclists in London on Friday 27 July.

For anyone who doesn’t know the story of the last Critical Mass ride, this is a succinct (but nevertheless pretty accurate) summary:

Before the ride (which attracted a typical summer crowd of many hundreds of the usual cross-section of cyclists) set off, lots of police turned up in a spirit of Olympic hysteria. Some of the police busied themselves giving pieces of paper to some (but far from all) of the cyclists present. The paper purported to ban cyclists from going anywhere north of the river. Most of the cyclists eventually did cross the river, however, and hundreds of them went via Stratford on their travels. A lot of cyclists from one of the batches that went to Stratford were rounded up by police there (as were some cyclists who happened to be in the area and had nothing whatsoever to do with Critical Mass). Including a handful of arrests of cyclists elsewhere, a grand total of 182 cyclists ended up in custody that night. There are some reports linked on the (unofficial – of course! – since Critical Mass has nothing “official”, by definition) London Critical Mass website.

DEFENCE CAMPAIGN MEETING – THURSDAY 9 AUGUST

The meeting is at 7pm, at Firebox, 106-108 Cromer Street, London WC1 (this is a couple of blocks behind Camden Town Hall on Euston Road, just a few minutes from Kings Cross and St Pancras stations. The aim of the meeting is to facilitate the setting up of a defence campaign – to help with practical or political or legal or other support for the 182, and to ensure that Critical Mass can continue without further legal molestation.

If you are sometimes a CM cyclist;
and/or if you were arrested on 27 July;
and/or if you’re involved in a police monitoring group or a right to protest campaign;
and/or if you’re giving legal support to any of those arrested;
then you’re warmly invited to this meeting.

The meeting is for anyone involved with or concerned about the arrests.

For more information about the origins of the meeting, see http://counterolympicsnetwork.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/defence-campaign-cm-182.

Please share information about this meeting with anyone who might like to know about it. If you’re interested, but can’t make Thursday’s meeting, please send a message (with the subject line “Defence Meeting”) to bikesalive@london.com – the message will be printed out and taken to the meeting.

Oil that chain!

In the run-up to the next Bikes Alive Kings Cross go-slow on Monday 30 April, there are a couple of other London cycling events which you probably don’t need reminding of … but, below, we’ll remind you anyway. Meanwhile, how about printing off copies of this flier promoting next Monday’s action, and maybe distributing some at those events – and elsewhere – between now and then?

Just a brief recap of why we’ll be back at Kings Cross on Monday:
Many cyclists have been unnecessarily killed and injured at Kings Cross in recent years;
Transport for London (TfL) was repeatedly warned, over a long period, that the road design didn’t match its own safety guidelines – but it refused to act;
TfL told its traffic engineers to ignore cyclists when planning changes to the road layout;
Changes being made now at Kings Cross are introducing new dangers for cyclists.

If you agree that peaceful direct action is a necessary part of our repertoire if we’re to succeed in changing TfL’s policies (which put the throughput of motor vehicles ahead of the safety of Londoners as a whole), then please join us on Monday. With the elections for the London Mayor and the London Assembly just days away, we need to show that the current situation will not be tolerated. Enough is enough!

Please spread the word. (Those of you who’re members of Facebook can do so via this page.)

OTHER IMMINENT EVENTS

Friday 27 April, being the last Friday in the month, will see the London Critical Mass bike ride. Hundreds of cyclists will gather by the riverside, under the south end of Waterloo Bridge, from 6pm onwards. By 7pm the mass will be swooping through central London redressing the normal balance on the roads, putting non-motorised road users in charge.

On Saturday 28 April, the London Cycling Campaign has organised its Big Ride: a merry event – with a serious message, about the demand for a better deal for cyclists on the capital’s roads – before the London elections the following Thursday. Assemble at the Marble Arch end of Park Lane at 11am, to set off at 12noon via Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalagar Square, and Parliament Square, to end with a rally on Victoria Embankment at 2pm. For more details, including of feeder rides, see http://lcc.org.uk/pages/the-big-ride.

LINKS – FOR YOUR DELIGHT OR YOUR DESPAIR

Some reports (from many such) of the Addison Lee die-in on Monday:
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/london/300-cyclists-stage-diein-at-minicab-firm-7674969.html
http://youtu.be/aODo8UsHi08

Two useful rants/commentaries about Addison Lee (again, from many):
http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/boris-johnson-will-he-support-addison.html
http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/2012/04/time-to-boycott-addison-lee/

And an assortment of other items…
… more wisdom from Christian Wolmar, this time in the Evening Standard
http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/2012/04/for-boris-and-ken-the-road-is-still-king
… a cycling campaign round-up from The Times (though with no mention of Bikes Alive on this occasion)…
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3319795.ece
… another tragic addition to the statistics…
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/london/cyclist-hit-by-car-on-spurs-match-day-dies-7630354.html
… and for those who can read Swedish…
http://www.effektmagasin.se/londoncyklisterna-tar-tillbaks-vagarna-trafikmaktordningen-london-cykelsakerhet

STAYING IN TOUCH

If you want to be on the list to get e-mails with news from Bikes Alive, or if you have any other questions, e-mail BikesAlive@london.com. And, of course, keep an eye on this website.

If you use Twitter, you can follow @BikesAlive.

See you all on Monday evening!

Busy Mondays

Up until a few days ago, the main information in this posting was intended to be the next Bikes Alive one-hour go-slow at Kings Cross, 6pm-7pm on Monday 30 April. (Those of you on the Bikes Alive e-mail list will have heard about this already; if you aren’t on the list, and want to stay in touch, e-mail BikesAlive@london.com and ask to be added.)

Further information about the 30 April event is below. But first, news of an urgent short-notice event this coming Monday, 23 April…

DIE-IN AT ADDISON LEE HEAD OFFICE – Monday 23 April, around 6pm

Probably most London cyclists will have heard about John Griffin, boss of minicab firm Addison Lee, who this week instructed his drivers to use bus lanes in London, promising that he will indemnify them against prosecution. Minicabs and other private hire vehicles can’t legally use bus lanes (most of which are open to proper taxis). It seems that giving large sums of money to the Tory Party, and having tête-à-têtes with ministers, hasn’t had a quick enough effect in his campaign to make himself even richer by getting the law changed in his favour. So he’s decided to just break the law anyway.

The result of such a change in the law would be to multiply the number of vehicles in bus lanes – hence, of course, slowing down journeys for millions of bus passengers, and greatly increasing the dangers for cyclists. It’s a testament to the poor standard of provision for cyclists in London that bus lanes are often the least worst place for us – where we can, for example, get some respite from the often mind-bogglingly awful driving seen from many Addison Lee drivers.

Even worse, John Griffin went on to publish a factually inaccurate and victim-blaming rant about the killing and injuring of cyclists on the roads – a rant described by Dr Robert Davis, Chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum, as “a display of self-pitying bigotry and victim-blaming … the kind of incendiary message that exacerbates law-breaking behaviour by motorists”.

Some Bikes Alivers have responded to the Addison Lee boss by calling for a mass die-in at – which could effectively turn into a mass blockade of – the company’s headquarters. Within hours of the call going out, the initiative was getting support even from quarters which normally don’t look favourably on Bikes Alive-type activities… This might be because the action as billed is basically symbolic action; but with large numbers, it could turn into some peaceful direct action on the night. (The event has come about because of the outrage of many individuals, groups and campaigns; neither Bikes Alive nor anyone else prepared a detailed blueprint before calling for the action … so come along with your own ideas to add to the occasion.)

The Addison Lee head office is at 35-37 William Road, London NW1 (a couple of blocks north of the Euston underpass, up Hampstead Rd). The plan is to meet at 6pm on Monday 23 April at the junction of Stanhope Street and William Road (and, if there are lots of us, at the junction of Hampstead Road and William Road as well). We’ll then proceed to the Addison Lee offices for a die-in. (Make-up, bandages and fake blood welcome!)

Spread the word! (Those of you who are members of Facebook can do so via this page: http://www.facebook.com/events/392495397451954.)

THE NEXT ENFORCED TRAFFIC CALMING AT KINGS CROSS

Bikes Alive will be back at the lethal junction at Kings Cross on Monday 30 April, where we’ll peacefully enforce a go-slow for an hour from 6pm. Since we were last there a few weeks ago, Transport for London have been undertaking work on the junction. However, not only do these changes fail to address the dangers faced by cyclists – they actually introduce new ones. So we’ll be actively confronting the results of official transport policies from 6pm to 7pm on Monday 30 April – just 3 days before the London elections. The mayor elected that week will be responsible for Transport for London (TfL): Bikes Alive will continue to take peaceful direct action until the mayor – whoever it is – reverses the TfL policies which prioritise vehicle throughput over the health, safety and sanity of Londoners as a whole.

For more background to the situation at Kings Cross, and news of Bikes Alive’s campaign of non-violent self-defence by cyclists, see earlier postings below.

 

Events and non-events of interest

So well done! The numbers turning out for a peacefully enforced go-slow at Kings Cross are bouncing back again, with a few dozen non-motorised road users calming the death-trap outside the station during the rush-hour on Monday. It was enough to do the job, even if (as can be seen here) the event was a bit straggly at times… Note that this was at a time when the whole of this road would normally have been choked [as would the passers-by] with dangerous motorised traffic.


There’s a more multi-faceted photo reports of the event, from Demotix, at: www.demotix.com/news/1126815/bikes-alive-protest-held-kings-cross-london.

We now bring you news – or in some cases reminders – of forthcoming events of interest; and also some “non-event” (in the nicest possible sense) information.

FOR YOUR DIARIES

1)  Critical Mass

Since this Friday, 30 March, is the last Friday in the month, it’s the London Critical Mass bike ride. Hundreds of cyclists will gather by the riverside, under the south end of Waterloo Bridge, from 6pm onwards. By 7pm (in theory) the mass will be swooping through central London redressing the normal balance on the roads, putting non-motorised road users in charge. Note that, on past precedent, it seems likely there could be a consensus amongst participants that this month’s route should stretch out south-east to Deptford, SE8, where a cyclist was killed last Friday at the junction of Deptford Church Street and Bronze Street in a hit-and-run incident involving a car.

2)  Brighton Bike Fest

There are always good reasons to go to Brighton, and for a week next month – 16-22 April – there’s an extra reason for cyclists: the Brighton Bike Fest. Its aim is to “celebrate cycling as a safe, clean, healthy and cheap alternative to the car, bringing together various Brighton cycle groups in a self-organised celebration of the bicycle”. There are events every day. For more details see www.brightonbikefest.org (unlike the misprinted website address on some of their own literature, tut-tut, this is the right address!).

3)  Spring cleaning London’s air

No apologies for another plug for the next main Bikes Alive mobilisation: on Thursday 19 April we’re joining with our friends at Climate Rush in a Clean Air Zone initiative. We meet at DEFRA’s head office (17 Smith Square, SW1) at 6pm; then we’re cycling and walking to somewhere which – by the magic of peaceful direct action – we’ll transform into London’s cleanest road, free of traffic fumes. Imagine a road with no cars, no toxic fumes – a safe space for children to play, for cyclists to ride, and for pedestrians to walk.

You’re encouraged to take your feather-duster, some children’s games, and food for a picnic…

There’s more background on the Climate Rush website at www.climaterush.co.uk/our-campaigns/cleanair/springclean.

NON-EVENT NEWS

Our comrades at LCC (the London Cycling Campaign) are organising a “Go Dutch” petition in the run-up to the Greater London elections in May, calling on candidates to agree to make London’s streets more liveable for everyone by making them as safe and inviting for cycling as they are in some neighbouring countries – hence the name of the campaign. See petition.lcc.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1745&ea.campaign.id=13331.

On the subject of LCC: after the government recently promised £15million to decrease dangers for cyclists at junctions in London, LCC called it “a welcome gesture”, which is probably about right. However, their website’s coverage of this links to an earlier item in February, where LCC talk of the need for rethinking junctions in the light of the “public outcry over Bow Roundabout and Kings Cross”. … Bikes Alivers might be a little surprised at the mention of Kings Cross, given the LCC HQ’s refusal to tell their membership of a certain series of actions at Kings Cross that have been one of the most significant manifestations of that outcry!

Also in the run-up to the London elections, Londoners on Bikes, a campaign bringing together a range of cycling activists, is encouraging people to “vote with their bike”. Given the probable closeness of the vote as between the two Mayoral candidates most likely to win, the idea is that they should see how crucial the votes of thousands of cyclists could be when they’re making promises. For more details, see www.londonersonbikes.org.uk.

Most people will know about the “Zil Lanes” that will be in place all over London during the Olympics, which – in order to speed up the limousines carrying the event’s fat-cat corporate sponsors, and other dodgy characters – will make many journeys intolerably difficult (and in some cases impossible) for millions of Londoners for weeks on end. Worse still, the changes to roads will increase the dangers faced by both cyclists and pedestrians who’re trying to get around. One dogged individual has spent ages trying – using Freedom of Information regulations – to get copies of whatever safety impact assessments were made concerning these changes. It seems – from the authorities’ stonewalling – that either there are none, or the results were too embarrassing to make public. For those with a stomach for this kind of thing, you can find some of the correspondence here and here.

If you’re interested in making contact with people wanting to do something about the dangers posed by these lanes, see counterolympicsnetwork.wordpress.com/category/transport. Also, note the next gathering of anti-Olympics campaigners will be taking place on 14 April – see counterolympicsnetwork.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/counterolympics-at-bishopsgate-institute).

Those of you who read the excellent Camden New Journal – as all of you in and around that borough no doubt do – should note an unfortunate misprint in this week’s issue (in their almost-every-week coverage of Bikes Alive). The subtle wit of the latest Bikes Alive press release [you can see them all here], with its reference to the campaign’s “Spring Defensive”, was sadly lost on them: they’ve now told their many thousands of readers that we’ve launched a Spring Offensive – and we don’t want Transport for London to retreat to their bunkers any more than they do already.

AND FINALLY…

In an example of cultural differences – and this relates to the LCC campaign mentioned above – try to imagine, if you were reading a news report of a crisis meeting of the British cabinet, what photos of the Prime Minister arriving at the meeting you’d expect to see. And now look at this [and apologies for having to include a link to the Daily Mail]: www.mail.com/int/news/europe/1167724-dutch-lawmakers-struggle-austerity-debate.html.

Get those scissors out!

Help promote next Monday’s one-hour Springtime go-slow at Kings Cross. (For more details of the event, see the last posting – below, or at http://bikesalive.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/some-variety.)

One way you can promote it is by printing copies of the sheet of flyers you’ll find here, cutting them up, and giving them to everyone you know who prefers to move round London peacefully, safely, and unpollutingly. See you there at 6pm sharp on Monday!

(And you can also stay in touch by following @BikesAlive on Twitter, if you’re that sort of person…)

Some variety in the Spring

Last Monday, the day of the latest Bikes Alive action, The Times ran a story about the scandal of TfL telling its experts to ignore cyclists when planning road changes at Kings Cross (see www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3348024.ece) – though unfortunately the paper omitted any mention of the action due there that night. And an interview with a Bikes Aliver was run several times that afternoon on LBC radio (and of course he did plug the action). But despite the mini-flurry of last-minute coverage, turn-out was poor last week.

If you were all saving yourselves for Spring, then there’s good news: we have some cheery plans, as set out below … and note that the first event is our next visit to Kings Cross, on Monday 26 March at 6pm for another one-hour go-slow. For some of the reasons to be there, see below.


FORTHCOMING BIKES ALIVE OUTINGS

1)  Kings Cross action on Monday 26 March

We’ll be back for another peacefully enforced one-hour go-slow on the lethal roads outside Kings Cross station. And note that since the switch from 6pm to a 6.30pm start time hasn’t increased numbers, we’ll be back at 6pm again next week. This has the advantage that the hour’s action takes place while there are still large numbers of people in the area to experience/witness the event, and to be communicated with. Here are some extra reasons to turn out next week…

(a) It’ll be soon after the equinox; BST will have started, making it suddenly brighter at 6pm; it’s Spring! (b) You all need a chance to redeem yourselves after your poor showing last time. (c) Even as you read this, work to remodel the road layout is getting under way at Kings Cross – work which expands the cyclists’ killing zone at the lethal junction by the south-east corner of the station. (d) Leon Daniels, roads supremo at Transport for London (TfL), has yet to make good his promise to send his friend at Bikes Alive news of the alleged (but strangely invisible) in-the-nick-of-time re-think of TfL’s plans for Kings Cross (see the report of the day they let Boris loose in E3, in the last posting here).

Please be sure to help promote this event: you can post information, and/or a link to this site, on any blogs or other websites you’re involved with; you can make sure information about the action is circulated round any bike groups or other networks you’re part of. And if you want to prepare any leaflets, feel free to use the latest Bikes Alive logo, as above.

2)  Small-scale, not-publicised-in-advance, “guerilla” actions

Over the next couple of weeks, a few Bikes Alivers will be undertaking some unannounced (but quite public) actions to help enforce better behaviour by motorists, and to insist on increased safety for cyclists. If you use your imagination, you could no doubt think of things of this ilk which you and other cyclists in your area could do. So what are you waiting for?

If some of these ideas work out well, they’ll be shared with everyone else via this website. Send in any reports of your actions to the usual address – bikesalive@london.com.

3)  Spring cleaning London’s filthy air, Thursday 19 April

Next month, we’re joining with our wonderful friends at Climate Rush in support of their Clean Air Zone initiative. We meet at DEFRA’s head office (17 Smith Square, SW1) at 6pm; then we’re cycling and walking to somewhere which – by the magic of peaceful direct action – we’ll transform into London’s cleanest road, free of traffic fumes. Imagine a road with no cars, no toxic fumes – a safe space for children to play, for cyclists to ride, and for pedestrians to walk.

You’re encouraged to bring your feather-duster, some children’s games, and food for a picnic…

There’s more background on the Climate Rush website at www.climaterush.co.uk/our-campaigns/cleanair/springclean.

LINKS TO DISCUSSION AND REPORTS OF BIKES ALIVE ACTION

The last two of these include pictures of last week’s Bikes Alive event.

groups.google.com/group/uk.rec.cycling/browse_thread/thread/349be9312cda499e
www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2012/mar/cyclists-%E2%80%98ignored%E2%80%99-changes-kings-cross-junction-where-student-deep-lee-died
london.indymedia.org/articles/11869

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