July Critical Mass Bike RideTagged as: barclays bicycles critical_mass
Neighbourhoods: waterloo west_end
Around 600 cyclists came out on the monthly Critical Mass bicycle ride last Friday night. the ride takes place on the last friday of every month throughout the year, and riders meet from 6pm on the south bank under waterloo bridge by the national film theatre. the route is decided by riders on the night, and since last year's high court case, police no longer ride with the bikes.
On a pleasant july evening, numbers were strong, and around 600 cyclists left the south bank at around 7pm. early on there were some drivers irate at being 'corked' (stopped by cyclists from entering from side roads and junctions and causing danger by mingling with the procession). across westminster bridge, some crazy drivers cut up cyclists and drove at speed.
After regrouping in parliament square, the cyclists took over whitehall and proceeded along the mall. approaching buckingham palace, some riders tried to briefly hold back a bmw that had entered the ride, and alerted by a plain clothes officer, a police car raced down the mall to attend the incident. there, after asking a cyclist to move, they attempted an arrest, but other cyclists intervened, and the bmw was still blocked while the rest of the ride passed. it seemed bizarre, that as the bmw pushed into the wheel of the bicycle, police took the side of the motorist. i'm sure if it had been a police bicycle, a completely different scenario would have occurred. some of the police seem to have taken an anti-cyclist stance. boris should have a word with them! meanwhile, as a result of the incident, further police vehicles turned up, causing even more unnecessary traffic chaos. soon, all the riders had passed and the mass moved on, leaving the police obstructing the road.
With the reasonable number of cyclists, it was possible to take over all the lanes of park lane, and cyclists enjoyed taking the space in what can be otherwise a very bike-unfriendly highway.
After marble arch, the front riders chose to go along oxford street. this isn't always the best idea, as the single lane causes the ride to lengthen and spread out, it holds up too many buses (surely public transport isn't a target of protest compared to private cars?), and the string of buses also pump out odious and dangerous fumes which makes the ride less enjoyable.
Regent street gave a chance for the ride to bunch up again and at piccadilly circus the crowds loved the sight of so many bicycles.
Onwards along the strand and east towards the city, and as numbers started to lessen, the ride headed off up towards angel.
Cycling is supposedly getting a boost with the opening of the new 'cycle highways' and the launch of the barclays sponsored hire scheme. but cycling activists are unhappy at many aspects of the ill-thought out highways, and they also see the barclays scheme as aimed at tourists and the middle-classes. already, anti-barclays stickers are appearing on the new bikes, highlighting the company's links to the arms business, and undermining the massive advertising effect of the bikes.
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