Friday, 26 March 2010

Critical Mass London: "Someone please tell me why there are 1000s of people on push bikes riding around london?!" (twitter)

"commemorating the cyclists killed by HGVs" 
"celebrating the bicycle"
"it's our party" 
"cos it's Friday"

The reasons why more than 600 people joined critical mass on 26th March 2010 differed and the atmosphere reflected this fluctuating from a big party celebration (3rd birthday of the London Fixed Gear and Single Speed forum) to thoughtful silence.  I usually join critical mass to have a ride with friendly people, make the bicycle more "visible", and simply to enjoy the city. Last night though, the main reason that took me to critical mass was to  to pay respect to the 3 cyclists, Professor David Vilaseca-Perez, Muhammad “Haris” Ahmed, and Shivon Watson, who were killed (February / March) by HGVs.  

Lorries seem to be a primary source of cyclists' deaths in London as statistics show that 69% of London's cyclist deaths last year were indeed caused by lorries. In 2008 this figure was 88% and with figures so high it makes me wonder why London still has in place the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) which forces lorries to enter the city during the peak commuting hours. If the scheme was truly put in place to protect the people from noise pollution  then it makes no sense why it is not reviewed since it looks like it has contributed to a lorry rush that has caused the lives of commuters on bicycles. See the blogs by * Moving Target Zine * ibikelondon  * the Bike Show podcast *

Last night's critical mass of 600+ people, was with no police escort, and ran smoothly. The majority of pedestrians and drivers looked cheerfully at the sight of the cyclists; some joined in with a dance and a wave to the sounds of the sound system and the ones who were told about the deaths of the cyclists by HGVs expessed their "approval" to the ride and similar views on how ridiculously dangerous cycling in London is.

The critical mass had the occasional aggressive driver, including a lorry driver (the irony!) who decided to overtake 600+ cyclists by speeding in the counter flow lane...His behavior can only be described as murderous. And before you readers say it is understandable that the driver got annoyed, i must point out that the mass was actually flowing in good speed.  And this is when attitudes must change into respect for people; respect for people who choose to ride the humble bicycle.