bikesalive

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

More on the Kings Cross scandal

Today we bring you the latest on the scandal relating to Transport for London’s culpability at the lethal junction at Kings Cross; and we also bring you a story of everyday faux-East London folk (ie, Bumbling Boris and his merry men). And please remember: we’ll be back at Kings Cross on Monday (12 March) from 6.30 to 7.30pm. Will you be there?

TfL’s INJURY TOLL

Following the revelations a few days ago that, for years, Transport for London (TfL) told its road engineers to ignore cyclists when planning junction changes at Kings Cross (see kingscrossenvironment.com/2012/03/05/buchananreport), we now know that this was despite dozens of cyclists being injured there during this period.

The work undertaken by traffic engineers Buchanan and Partners, when TfL told them to ignore cyclists, covered the period 2005-2009. Research by Levenes Solicitors, who specialise in cycling safety, has looked at the part of the Kings Cross road system where Bikes Alive holds its go-slows (a total road length of less than half a mile), and has found 25 occasions from 2005 to 2010 when cyclists were injured seriously enough to show up in official statistics. (See blog.cycleinjury.co.uk/2012/03/kings-cross-go-slow-25-cyclist-injuries.html.)

And yet more research disclosed on the local Kings Cross community website has found that even when the traffic engineers did try to behave ethically and include recommendations relating to cycle safety, they were watered down between the draft report and the final report (see kingscrossenvironment.com/2012/03/07/did-tfl-weaken-pro-cycling-recommendations-for-killer-kings-cross-junction-as-long-ago-as-2007). Minutes of a Camden Cycling Campaign meeting from this period show that a TfL representative explained the unwillingness to improve cycle safety quite simply – they were “very insistent on through traffic”. (By which, of course, they mean motorised through traffic.)

We have no reason to believe that TfL’s dirty dealing over Kings Cross for many years is any different from the way it behaves everywhere else in London. But at Kings Cross we have the incontrovertible evidence … hence Bikes Alive’s concentration on Kings Cross, where we think the history, the strength of the local campaign, and the focus given to the Kings Cross situation by Bikes Alive and others, gives us a chance of getting TfL on the run – as a starting point for getting them on the run all over London, of course. Indeed, for hints of TfL at least claiming that they could be re-thinking their current Kings Cross plans, see the next item.

Our immediate lesson, of course, is that we need to return to Kings Cross in ever-greater numbers to keep up the pressure. So – see you on Monday evening!

AN ENCOUNTER WITH BUMBLING BORIS

Last Wednesday evening, Bikes Alive discovered that Mayor Boris was due in the East End on Thursday morning for the public (ie press) launch of the major expansion, that day, of the area covered by the Bike Hire scheme – of which he’s very proud. Discussions were had, and it seemed that the mayor’s hypocrisy – claiming to be pro-cycling, yet being in charge of a body (TfL) which has policies that are responsible for so many avoidable deaths and injuries of cyclists – deserved pointing our publicly. So, Bikes Aliver Albert Beale cleared his diary, and arranged to head out to the farthest reaches of the borough of Tower Hamlets on Thursday morning. He came back with a tale to tell.

This is that tale…

As I cycled east along Roman Road, shortly before the appointed time for Boris’s photo op, I spotted a crowd of people at a crossroads in the distance, some wearing fluorescent yellow jackets, and wondered whether I’d found the venue sooner than I expected. As the bright sunlight glinted on my grey hair, I suddenly saw a number of cameras raised in my direction; but my instinctive reaction to that was to tidy my hair, rather than to deliberately make it more boyishly tousled, and the cameras were quickly lowered again.

Once I arrived, I found a greeting party of clumps of press, Pearly Kings and Queens, and dozens of TfL officials of various ranks. Five minutes later, a group of cyclists arrived from the same direction as I had, this time with the real Boris at the fore. As he wheeled round the corner in front of the crowd, I called out his name, and shouted, “Why are you such a hypocrite – pretending to support cycling when you run TfL which has policies responsible for cyclists’ deaths?” His reaction made it clear that he heard me; but my intervention was apparently only partly audible in any of the media coverage. Though one local news report did say: “The Mayor of London was greeted with a mixture of cheers and heckles…”, which is encouraging.

I then went ahead of the official party, while Boris glad-handed stallholders in the local street market, so as to attempt further interaction with him and the media at the new docking station site which had been chosen for his formal “unveiling”. It was noticeable that, apart from some of the officials on the new hire bikes, there was no sign of anyone else at all having arrived by bike “normally”.

More heckling

I did a bit more heckling when he arrived, and once he was ensconced in front of the cameras I was approached by a couple of smartly-dressed members of the TfL entourage who started talking to me about my criticisms; no doubt a major reason they decided to interact with me was in order to distract me from continued heckling, and since I was sufficiently polite to let them engage me in a lengthy conversation, I must admit that their ruse worked.

I subsequently discovered that one of my new chums was Leon Daniels, since last year TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport; and the other was the Tory Party’s Kulveer Ranger, one of the mayor’s official “advisers”, in this case in the role of “director for transport policy”. In terms of their ability to empathise with people over whose lives they have so much influence, it should be noted that each of them is paid as much in a week as many Londoners have to live on for a couple of months. Leon Daniels, in particular, is an example of the revolving door between public servants and affluent corporations in the same area of business, which is so common in most areas of government these days: he arrived at TfL last year from a private transport company, as his predecessor left for a similar role at another such corporation.

It was, and is, hard to know how seriously to take what they told me. At one stage, Kulveer Ranger, when responding to my complaint that there weren’t separate traffic lights for cyclists, said that such a system was now being installed at the site of last year’s two cycling deaths at Bow Roundabout, and claimed that this would be “the first in Europe”. When I pointed out that I’d cycled in European cities with such systems back in the last century, he changed the claim to it being the first such example in the UK. And when I pointed out the need to slow down traffic light phasing, to allow enough red overlap for slow-moving cyclists and pedestrians to get clear of the junction before vehicles were coming at them, I was told there were national transport ministry regulations stopping this; yet I was then told proudly that TfL often went beyond the ministry-prescribed minimum.

Promises, promises

I had a lengthy discussion with Leon Daniels about the fact that not only were existing junctions dangerous for cyclists, but that most changes to junctions made them worse. He referred proudly to the revamped plans for Bow, implying that they’d learned their lesson. I said I would reserve judgement. His general message seemed to be, “Even if we have messed up until now, we’ve seen the light, and from this day onwards…” As far as Kings Cross was concerned, he repeatedly suggested that it was included in the recently announced review of junctions. I asked whether this meant that the planned changes announced some while back, which those of us who know the area see as introducing new dangers for cyclists, were now being reviewed before the (overdue) work got under way (and was this perhaps the reason it hadn’t already started); he was far from explicit, but he didn’t actually deny this. In the end, after he wouldn’t be pinned down, he said he’d send me details of the current state of play, in terms of what work was now due and who was currently being consulted about Kings Cross. Naturally I’m still waiting.

I also spoke to Nick Aldworth, who manages the hire bikes scheme for Transport for London, who had little useful to say once I’d agreed with him that having lots of extra bikes on the streets was a good thing – even though, I pointed out, Barclays had got the best of the deal financially. He didn’t try to rebut that point very strongly. My only regret was not discovering that another of the besuited men on blue bikes was actually a senior official from Barclays Bank – given other news emerging that day, there was the making of another interesting conversation there…

I did manage a bit more attempted dialogue with BJ, including telling him – when he was leaving – not to run away when people wanted to talk to him. But he seemed reluctant to meet his public one-on-one. I spoke to some journalists, including making one probably useful new contact on local radio. But the only person to record an interview with me was a charming young man from Romanian Radio; I charmed him back with my – very slight indeed – knowledge of the orthography of the Romanian language and he let me have quite a rant.

The only serious attack I had was from a raucous local who saw me with my bike and denounced cyclists as being the main cause of the world’s ills. And apparently we didn’t even know the Highway Code. He only slightly calmed down when I told him I’d once won a prize for my knowledge of the Highway Code – which was perhaps fair enough since, although I didn’t tell him, it was when I was at primary school.

SOME LINKS OF INTEREST

Statistics – which match common sense – on the dangers of collisions with HGVs: www.londonnet.co.uk/news/2012/mar/london-cyclist-death-rate-hgvs-revealed-new-report.html

A friendly local report about Kings Cross (though note it has the wrong start time for Monday’s go-slow): www.islingtontribune.com/news/2012/mar/tfl’s-advice-ignore-cyclist-data-kings-cross-accident-junction-‘scandal’

There’s been a sudden flurry of hits on the Bikes Alive website emanating from Reddit; this seems to be why: www.reddit.com/r/london/comments/qqk1l/peaceful_action_in_defence_of_the_saftey_of


Promoting next Monday; and other events

A reminder that, as announced, we’re returning to Kings Cross on Monday. And we do so against the background of this week’s shocking revelation that for years TfL was telling its transport consultants to ignore cyclists when planning road changes at Kings Cross (see the news in the last posting). So it’s really important to get a good turn-out, and to keep this issue in the public – and political – eye.

Please pass on news of the event on Monday evening to all your concerned/campaigning contacts – cycling, pedestrian, community, and environmental. You can print copies of this flyer to distribute to your local cycle shops, community centres, and so on. Or just give them to cyclists you’re alongside at traffic lights!

And while we’re at it, a rare piece of good news from the roads of Kings Cross: Islington Council is developing plans to calm the southern end of Caledonian Road – much of which, at present, acts as a barrier to the community rather than the heart of the community. This plan could extend to getting rid of the gyratory racetrack in part of the Kings Cross one-way system which falls inside Islington. See kingscrossenvironment.com/2012/03/01/love-the-cally-the-youll-love-this.

FORTHCOMING EVENTS

Nonviolence and Transport – Tuesday 13 March

The London group which has monthly discussions about aspects of pacifism and nonviolence has “Nonviolence and Transport” as its theme next Tuesday evening.

Some questions which the meeting might address include: Are there aspects of the way our society deals with issues of mobility and transport which are, in practice, violent? Is much motorised traffic inherently violent? Are large-scale transport systems inevitably a violent assault on the ecosystem? Do ideas of nonviolence suggest ways in which we should have more local self-sufficiency, and so travel a lot less? What role is there for nonviolent direct action in campaigning over transport and mobility?

See londonpacifismnonviolence.wordpress.com for more details; everyone interested is welcome.

Barnet’s Great Divide Ride – Sunday 25 March

The North Circular Road cuts a swathe across Barnet, and crossing points lack friendly features for cyclists. In fact, the recent remodelling of Henley’s Corner is another classic – and all too common – example of a road redesign that makes it even more hazardous for cyclists. So the Barnet group of the London Cycling Campaign has organised a ride which takes in lots of notorious junctions on the North Circular, including Staples Corner and the Brent Cross Flyover; they’re meeting at New Southgate station, N11, at 10am for a 10.30 start.

For more details, see www.barnetlcc.com.

 

Last and next … back to Kings Cross

A RETURN TO OLD HAUNTS

After last week’s outing to Archway, we’ll be back at Kings Cross next week (6.30-7.30pm, Monday 12 March). Below you’ll find:

reports of the Archway event;

the latest Kings Cross news (including that TfL told road engineers conducting traffic flow modelling at the lethal Kings Cross junction to ignore cyclists);

the text of a Bikes Alive letter which was (kind of) published; and

a few useful or interesting links.

ARCHWAY GYRATORY PROTEST

Last Thursday, a hundreds-strong crowd took to the road outside Archway underground station, circling the massive roundabout and causing traffic to back up for a while. The protesters were mostly locals (some of whom have been campaigning over the Archway road system for years); and a large majority were pedestrians. Bikes Alivers made up about half of the cyclists’ contingent, joining local cycle activists and others.

The event made the front page in the next day’s Islington Tribune – see the on-line version at www.islingtontribune.com/news/2012/mar/archway-roundabout-brought-standstill.

There are also photos and a video, respectively, at www.demotix.com/news/1084969/archway-gyratory-protest and youtu.be/xYsQQzXiveU,

It was a very cheery affair, with plenty of not-usually-the-demonstration-type locals; and some of the organisers went out of their way to thank Bikes Alive for being crucial in swelling the cycle contingent. One of them also apologised for the fact that the event had been set up with the police, after lengthy discussions, in a way which pretty much precluded repeated circling of the gyratory; but he expressed the hope that there might be another Archway event at some stage, more cyclist-led, which would make its presence felt at greater length…

Some participants expressed dissatisfaction at the less-direct-action-oriented style of the event; however, Bikes Alive was there very much in support of an existing local initiative, and so we were constrained by the arrangements they’d made. And next Monday we’ll be back at Kings Cross, in our ususal mode…

NEWS FROM KINGS CROSS

As we rev up (or whatever the cycling equivalent is) to return to Kings Cross next week for a one-hour enforced go-slow at the death junction outside the station, there are important new revelations about Transport for London’s (TfL’s) culpability.

The Times, which is still continuing its high-profile (even it analytically limited) cycle safety campaigning, has picked up on the police investigation into allegations of corporate manslaughter by TfL, as long pushed by the local Kings Cross Environment website (kingscrossenvironment.com). This relates to the fact that TfL failed for years to change the Kings Cross road layout, despite knowing that it failed to meet official safety standards. The only downside of this Times story (www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3336152.ece) is its failure to note that the changes that TfL does now plan are ones which introduce new dangers for cyclists!

Another shocking story just dug out by the Kings Cross folks is that TfL advised road engineers conducting traffic flow modelling and measurements in the Kings Cross area from 2005 to 2009 to ignore cyclists at the Kings Cross killer junction, despite cyclists making up 20% of casualties. (See kingscrossenvironment.com/2012/03/05/buchananreport.)

So, do you need any more reasons to to come and reclaim the roads at Kings Cross next Monday evening? See you there!

THE GUARDIAN GETS IN ON THE ACT

After all the fuss about cycle safety in The Times and the Independent recently, the Guardian ran a pro-cycling editorial a week or so back. However, given that it made positive noises about the cycling image of certain not-so-radical politicians, a letter was sent in putting a Bikes Alive-type spin on things. Come Saturday, several letters in response to the editorial were printed, but not including the Bikes Alive one – which is fair enough, given that their letters page is greatly over-subscribed, and only a small proportion of letters submitted make it into print. However, it transpires that nowadays – if there’s a topic which attracts more letters thought worthy of printing than there’s room for – the Guardian sometimes prints an expanded selection on its website. (This is not to be confused with other discussion threads on their website, which are full of anonymous – and frequently incoherent and hysterical – disputes about topics in the paper … discussions which many Guardian readers are amazed to find printed by an allegedly serious publisher.)

This is the text that was printed as one of the two extra letters in the on-line version of the letters page; it’s only slightly edited from the original submitted.

Your editorial refers positively to both David Cameron’s and Boris Johnson’s use of bikes, and calls for changes in attitude and the law, and for more investment in cycling facilities.

But in congested urban areas like London, it is impossible to increase safe cycle usage (or indeed to have air quality which doesn’t breach international standards, or to have a safe and unthreatening street environment for slow-moving pedestrians) without the elimination of most cars. Yet the politicians you praise are part of a selfish and privileged stratum of society which insists on the right to use private cars whenever desired.

Furthermore, Transport for London – run by Boris – currently has a deliberate policy of remodelling major road junctions in order to increase the throughput of motor vehicles while simultaneously increasing the dangers for cyclists.

It’s small wonder that many cyclists find such politicians, even when on their bikes, to be part of the problem not the solution – hence the need for non-violent direct action by cyclists to defend ourselves.

Albert Beale
Bikes Alive

LINKS TO SOME RELEVANT WEBSITES

Firstly, references to Bikes Alive (not all of them completely uncritical):

www.urban75.org/blog/ghost-bikes-bikes-alive-critical-mass-and-the-fight-for-safe-cycling-in-london
www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest/531926/jenny-jones-the-big-interview.html

And some items from the Independent a while back which were omitted from an earlier round-up:

www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/james-moore-an-open-letter-to-the-minister-for-road-safety-6348785.html
www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-ghost-bike-revolt-families-demand-action-on-cyclist-deaths-6348784.html

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.

Next Kings Cross action: Monday 6 February

As some of you will already have heard, the next pre-announced Bikes Alive event is at Kings Cross again, on Monday 6 February. Please copy this graphic and use it to promote this event as widely as possible!

News of further promotional resources – and indeed other news – will follow very shortly; but this quick posting is to give everyone as much notice as possible, now that the date is confirmed.

And remember, if you want to be on the e-mail list to get direct messages from Bikes Alive from time to time, please e-mail bikesalive@london.com and ask.

If you’re on Twitter, you can keep up to date by following @BikesAlive, and by watching out for #bikesalive.

 

Monday 23 January action: resources & networking

MAP/FLYER FOR MONDAY

Please copy this map and use it to promote Monday’s event!

Keep in touch:

If you want to be on the e-mail list to get direct messages from Bikes Alive from time to time, please e-mail bikesalive@london.com and ask.

If you’re on Twitter, you can keep up to date by following @BikesAlive, and by watching out for #bikesalive.

On the day:

Please try to arrive promptly by 6pm. The numbers are likely to be even higher than on the first Bikes Alive event (which involved around 200 people, including pedestrians), and it’s obviously very important that we try to stay together, for maximum impact. We need to make it clear that the current lethal priorities of Transport for London will not be tolerated, and if the only way an existing road system can be made safe is to take it over and exclude motor vehicles – at least for an hour! – so be it… We assume that the police presence will be as friendly and accommodating as it was last time; though if you were to have any problem then you should ring some helpful local solicitors (Hodge Jones Allen: tel 07659 111192).

And remember that we’re expecting pedestrians (including many Kings Cross locals, who also suffer from the current road system in the area) to be part of the action. So please don’t be too cycle-centric, and be prepared to move – or not move – at a pace which suits them too! Since we’re trying to change the balance on our roads to a more human and more humane one, do come with a smile on your face, and in good voice.

Don’t forget to use the weekend to spread the word to all your cycling friends! If Bikes Alive continues to grow, we can target more places, more often – but that depends on you.

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