Ghost bikes, Bikes Alive, Critical Mass and the fight for safe cycling in London

Ghosts bikes, Bikes Alive and the fight for the safety of cyclists in London

With the tragic sight of white ‘Ghost Bikes’ (unofficial memorials where riders have been killed) becoming more common on London’s streets, cyclists are fighting back.

Ghosts bikes, Bikes Alive and the fight for safe cycling in London
[Ghost bike, Streatham High Road, August 2009]

Cyclists fight back

In response to the growing number of cyclists killed in London, a new campaign group called Bikes Alive was set up in December 2011, who explain:

Bikes Alive was established to facilitate nonviolent direct action in defence of the life and safety of cyclists (and pedestrians) in London, in the face of official policies which pander to the most anti-social, dangerous, and selfish behaviour of many motorists. Lobbying and symbolic action is insufficient. We need to assert our right to move peacefully and safely round the streets of our city: we need to resist!
[Bikes Alive website]

Ghosts bikes, Bikes Alive and the fight for safe cycling in London

Above is the ghost bike memorial for Deep Lee, a 24-year-old Central St Martins fashion student who was killed at the notorious junction by Kings Cross station – read the urban75 discussion about this tragedy.

Transport for London (TfL) decided to move the bike to the south side of Euston Road last week to facilitate new road works which campaigners think will make things even worse.

In response, around 80 cyclists from ‘Bikes Alive’ took part in a one hour ‘go-slow’ ride protest ride around King’s Cross last Monday night – the fourth such protest since Ms Lee was killed in October.

Campaigner Albert Beale told the Islington Tribune:

Work to re-align some kerb lines and remove a traffic island will increase the flow of motor vehicles through a key part of the junction, introducing new dangers for cyclists.

Bikes Alive, which works with other vulnerable, non-motorised road users, is pledged to continue to take action until the balance of power on London’s roads is changed.

Ghosts bikes, Bikes Alive and the fight for safe cycling in London

Next action – Archway

The next Bikes Alive action is on Thursday 1 March, at Archway, in support of local group who are campaigning to get rid of the Archway gyratory. Here’s how they explain the problem:

Traffic spreads across the centre of Archway like water across a river delta, leaving pedestrians to pick their way across first one flow, then another, then another.

This means that although Archway is regenerating, it can’t function properly as a centre. Cut off on two sides, it is left on the edge of  traffic which, like a powerful river, has caused serious erosion all round it.

The layout is bad for drivers too. The multiple traffic lights interrupt the flow but in spite of these controls, there are frequent collisions where St John’s Way and Junction Road meet, as well as rush hour gridlock on St John’s Way southbound.

Life is even worse for cyclists – so bad that the team visiting to assess the cycle superhighway route all dismounted rather than cycle here.

Ghosts bikes, Bikes Alive and the fight for safe cycling in London

More info:
Bikes Alive (Campaign site)
Critical Mass, London (Photos of monthly London rides)
Cycling Intelligence (Campaigning blog with useful stats)
Two wheels and beyond (Info on UK cyclists killed, 1989-today)
Discuss the issues on urban75 (200+ posts)
Ghost bikes (urban75 discussion)

Cyclists killed in London
Detailed data on cycling fatalities
Map of fatal cycling accidents

2 Comments on “Ghost bikes, Bikes Alive, Critical Mass and the fight for safe cycling in London”

  1. I wanted to reach out to the bicycle community and let them know about a kickstarter that I am launching to fund a month long road trip to finish the shooting for my ghost bike project. Hopefully, you forward and repost this link and maybe even become a backer (every dollar helps). I greatly appreciate you taking the time to look at this link and pass it along.
    Check out the project here:

    Thank you!!


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