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.