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.
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.
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.