London Greenpeace: 'Free the world bike ride
By the man in the flowery skirt.: 22nd September (EU Car Free Day)
Despite the forecast of rain all day, about thirty people (many colourfully dressed with decorated bicycles) took part in the ride that had been billed as an evolution of critical mass and protest pickets. The police seem to have expected more and outnumbered the cyclists congregating at Speakers Corner. A motorcycle cop who came over to speak to the leader (will they never learn) asked whether we were cancelling the ride - perhaps they were expecting another J18.
When the ride finally began and claimed it's first street, traffic soon became snarled up as the police kindly assisted the critical mass by blocking traffic. The first stop was a Land Rover dealer in Park Lane targeted for its role in supplying military vehicles to oppressive regimes. Leaflets provided by CAAT were handed out to passer-by and those in the showroom. A short while later police ejected those inside and the ride moved on.
Second stop was Piccadilly Circus, a brand named landmark in the consumer capital. A film crew from the BBC took the opportunity to film a few interviews, while shoppers and tourists where given leaflets explaining the bullshit behind advertising and consumerism.
The ride continued with cyclists leafleting shoppers before joining a daily London Animal Action picket outside one of London's few remaining fur shops. The police got bored around this time and went to find something useful to do elsewhere, leaving the cyclists to cope with London's road raging drivers by themselves.
The BBC was next to be picketed. Visitors to the 'BBC experience' received a copy of The Vested Interests - headlined 'Media Mogul Ate My Hamster' or why the mainstream media sucks. Shoppers in the BBC shop will be surprised to find copies of the leaflet in their purchases for some time to come (as will customers of newsagents along the route of the ride).
Niketown - a massive shrine to the fashion victim - was the final target. Security guards became a little overzealous and assaulted some of the activist's who were leafleting inside the shop. One guard tried to perform a citizens arrest for trespass. A plainclothes cop informed the guard that he would be best to let him go just as everyone was getting excited at the prospect of being able to sue for false imprisonment and assault.
After a brief debate about whether to visit a McDonald's before or after getting some real food to eat, the remaining cyclists headed off to enjoy their picnic at a place the public would normally be excluded from.. Up to this time the weather held off providing the forecast rain. Unfortunately the sky then decided to open and the picnic ended up taking place in the London Greenpeace office.
Lessons learned. Many people didn't want to go because it was expected to rain all day but it was actually very pleasant most of the time - there is no point stressing about things you can't control. Other people didn't come because they had no bike yet it turned out that people on foot were essential. It was very difficult to hand on the leaflets explaining what was going on to members of the public on the pavement while cycling. Most important lesson, short skirts are inappropriate attire for men on bikes.
Note: The leaflets used on the day are available from London Greenpeace
contact: 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX. Tel/Fax. 0171 713 1269