Bikes Alive blockade of King's Cross tonight aims to put pressure on TfL

New campaign group has backing of Jenny Jones, who puts preventing cyclists' deaths as her top wish for 2012

by Simon_MacMichael   January 9, 2012  

King's Cross (credit Green Lane, Wikimedia Commons)

Bikes Alive, a new campaign group in London that plans to use non-violent direct action to bring about improvements to the safety of cyclists and pedestrians on the capital's streets will this evening stage a blockade of the junction at King's Cross where student Deep Lee died last October while riding her bike.

The group plans to stage a blockade of the Kings Cross gyratory system not just this evening, but for an hour each week, insisting on its website that “polite meetings and symbolic action,” such as last year’s Blackfriars Bridge Flashrides, “are having no effect. We need to act.”

The group’s debut action this evening forms part of the protest we reported on last week at the same location that also sees road safety campaigners and Green Party mayoral candidate Jenny Jones come together to demonstrate against TfL plans to remove a number of pedestrian crossings throughout London. 

Bikes Alive believes that the time has come for more direct action, saying of tonight’s planned blockade: “Unless TfL agrees to change its priorities as a result, Bikes Alive will endeavour to organise regular road closures, with the aim being to completely close down Kings Cross for at least one hour every week until TfL comes to its senses.”

Speaking on behalf of the group, Albert Beale said that tonight’s “is the first step in a campaign to stop – by whatever nonviolent means needed – the completely unnecessary level of deaths, injuries and fear inflicted by motorists on the more vulnerable. I urge cyclists to join us on Monday. And if you don’t have a bike, bring your dancing shoes…”

Jenny Jones added: “London’s roads must be fixed urgently if we are to make them safe for cyclists and all other road users. This is the Mayor’s responsibility, and I hope that if we make a statement through peaceful, direct action he will start to listen.”

There are inevitable comparisons to be drawn between Bikes Alive and Critical Mass, held in London on the final Friday of each month, although that has no fixed route.

In line with the movement’s global ethos, the latter also has no organiser and is meant as a celebration of all things cycling, although protests on specific issues are incorporated into Critical Mass rides from time to time.

Meanwhile, in a piece in the latest edition of London listings magazine Time Out, asked to reveal “What single thing would improve London in 2012,” Ms Jones said “my number one wish is that no cyclists are killed on our roads.”

Fellow mayoral candidates Ken Livingstone and Brian Paddick put success in this May’s mayoral elections as the best thing that could happen to the city, while for incumbent Mayor Boris Johnson, it was “a London adorned in Olympic medals.”

Asked to look into a crystal ball to see what 2012 holds for the capital, Ms Jones added: “As with most things, we’re reliant on a new Mayor being elected in order to stop further deaths of cyclists.”

12 user comments

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Love the idea, but the heavy handed london plod will storm in with full riot gear and just make a mess, like they do with everything except MAC demo's Angry

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posted by Gkam84 [8149 posts]
9th January 2012 - 11:49

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Feeling really bad about getting the DLR this morning. I might stroll over to King's Cross after work and look a bit awkward without my bike.

Jones gets my vote. It's such a disappointment that a cycling mayor has done so little for a cyclists.

"What single thing would improve London in 2012?" Red Ken and Paddick's wishes look so selfish compared to Jones'.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
9th January 2012 - 11:52

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Great idea, though there is a Transport Police station on the corner though, so it'll end in police action pretty rapidly I imagine.

Just make sure someone films it and try to get it trending on twitter I guess.

rrrrrrrrr.

posted by kaptnkrunch [57 posts]
9th January 2012 - 11:55

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Gkam84 wrote:
Love the idea, but the heavy handed london plod will storm in with full riot gear and just make a mess, like they do with everything except MAC demo's Angry

Plod's approach at the Balckfriar's flashrides was very softly softly. I know this evening's planned demo is static but I wonder how willing the police will be to intervene if there is a considerable number of people there. Hopefully having a politician in the middle of it will get the press over there.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
9th January 2012 - 12:00

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I'm not so sure it's going to generate much more than resentment from other road users. I see where they're coming from but I think they could just end up marginalising the wider cause.

posted by Chuck [294 posts]
9th January 2012 - 12:02

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Coleman wrote:

Plod's approach at the Balckfriar's flashrides was very softly softly. I know this evening's planned demo is static but I wonder how willing the police will be to intervene if there is a considerable number of people there. Hopefully having a politician in the middle of it will get the press over there.

Yeah but that was a moving ride, as you say, tonight will be static, so actually breaking the law this time, but one good thing could come of it, The police might not want the hassle and just close the road off themselves Devil Devil

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posted by Gkam84 [8149 posts]
9th January 2012 - 12:35

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Got to agree with Chuck as someone that lives works cycles and drives in central London all this is going to do is wind up motorists many of whom may feel sympathy towards cyclists at the moment. Better to block the roads outside parliament or No10 and inconvenience politicians, the public and media would love that.

posted by belgravedave [157 posts]
9th January 2012 - 12:52

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Bearing in mind the huge publicity around recent deaths, I feel there'll be rather more sympathy from other road users than usual.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
9th January 2012 - 13:11

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JohnS wrote:
Bearing in mind the huge publicity around recent deaths, I feel there'll be rather more sympathy from other road users than usual.

I'd like to think so, but my cynical side thinks this could quickly be eroded once people start to be inconvenienced.

posted by Chuck [294 posts]
9th January 2012 - 13:48

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Tonight's planned gathering at KX has sparked my interest in doing more than simply shout with frustration at the crass behavior of some drivers (not all by a long margin - and by the way I do have a word with red-line busting cyclists too when I catch them).

But tonight will hopefully be different.....and I hope it will begn to make a difference....I intend to come along......let's be sensible but let's make a noise at Kings Cross.

Mel.

posted by Mel Glass [3 posts]
9th January 2012 - 15:45

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I went on this action last night and it was peaceful and good humoured in the main. There were many pedestrians including me. There were also a few disabled people.

We started quite late at 6:20pm or so and the crowd of 250 or so pedestrians and cyclists marched and cycled at walking pace around Euston Road and York Way circling the front of the station. One of the banners said - 'we are the traffic'. We shouted slogans such as 'Whose streets? - Our streets.'Passers by were supportive and we got very little aggression even from taxi drivers. Bus passengers, only delayed for 5 minutes at the most as we moved from road to road, were giving us thumbs up signs. Police presence was significant, but there was little or no confrontation.

The only aggro came at the end on the dot of 7pm, when Les(?) said that the action was now over, would we please go our own way, and he would finish with a poem. Well the poem (on road issues of course) went on for a while and longer. The police guy attending got a bit impatient and grabbed hold of the poet to get him off the road and there was a tussle at the end with the crowd shouting that they wanted to hear the end of the poem and the guy belting out the poem while in police custody (he was later let go).

This is the only report I have read on it:
http://bit.ly/zSsTks

BP

posted by BrendaP [3 posts]
10th January 2012 - 15:23

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Totally agree. Keep it sensible and in good humour is key. If kept like that it disarms backlash and makes them look silly. If asked to move, move. No need to stand and fight, there is always another road and another junction not far away that can be used. Wink

jaunty angle: bikes and communications
http://ragtag.wordpress.com

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posted by ragtag [137 posts]
11th January 2012 - 11:12

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