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.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.