London Cycling Campaign (LCC)

by bikesalive

There have been some comments and questions about the relationship of Bikes Alive to the London Cycling Campaign (LCC).

Frustration about some of LCC’s tactics (as referred to in the page about the origins of Bikes Alive) – combined of course with existing frustrations about the traffic situation in London – led to the launching of Bikes Alive. Though of course there was and is appreciation of all the useful work the London Cycling Campaign does.

When Bikes Alive was starting out, and e-mails were being sent to all manner of interested groups to try to involve them in the first action on 9 January, LCC was naturally amongst those approached. A couple of weeks beforehand, they were asked whether they would support the event, or – if not – whether they would at least tell their members about it. And they were urged to respond, with any comments or questions, irrespective of their support or otherwise for the event. That e-mail was definitely received by LCC, but to this day no reply of any sort has been received by Bikes Alive.

(However, many local LCC groups and activists have been very supportive, though – of course – opinions vary greatly and some LCC members have strongly criticised Bikes Alive’s approach. But at least they’ve engaged in unacrimonious discussion in a comradely fashion.)

So, LCC’s decision seemed to be to ignore Bikes Alive and to refuse to engage with it officially. But it then transpired that they were not ignoring it; rather, some of the “officer class” at LCC were going out of their way to slag it off when talking to other parts of the cycling community.

The day of the demo

The most recent news on the LCC front emerged on the day of the first action on 9 January when, just hours before the event, Bikes Alive had an urgent message from Transport for All. (TfA is a well-known and well-respected London campaigning group who work to ensure that everyone, irrespective of their abilities or disabilities, has access to safe and accessible means of travel.) The previous week, TfA had decided to support the 9 January event, given the common interest in calming and restraining traffic, and in putting people’s needs first. Bikes Alive was excited by mutual recognition of the common ground, and there was talk of trying to get cycling groups to support possible future TfA demonstrations over issues like the removal of pedestrian crossings. One of the Bikes Alive press releases about the 9 January action, sent out a few days beforehand, included – with permission – a supportive quote from TfA. But the message from Transport for All to Bikes Alive on the day of the demonstration announced that TfA was withdrawing its official support at the last moment.

So what has all this got to do with LCC? Well, piecing the story together from a number of sources, it seems pretty clear that the LCC office approached TfA on the morning of the demonstration, and “lent on” the TfA’s Director. They apparently argued that TfA should not associate itself with Bikes Alive, on the absurd grounds that our allegedly extremist anti-car stance implied that we would oppose the right of people with disabilities to use cars! In their haste, and perhaps in a last-minute panic, the TfA didn’t wait to try to clarify anything with Bikes Alive but just announced – both to Bikes Alive and to their own contacts – the withdrawal of their support. (It’s important to stress that Bikes Alive is not making any accusation that TfA acted in bad faith.)

A number of people associated with Transport for All nevertheless took an active and supportive part in the demonstration, in their individual capacity. But it did mean that there were far fewer wheelchair users involved in the demonstration than had been anticipated.

Bikes Alive remains, as has always been the case, keen to find as much common ground as possible with other cycling campaigners, so as to ensure that different approaches and different styles of campaigning can be as complementary as possible – just as we hope to work with other direct actionists whose causes overlap with ours.