On Saturday afternoon, 23 July 2016, I was casually cycling on a cycle path on a main road near Tower Bridge on the way to visit a friend in London and suddenly a large ‘swarm’ of about 40 of young, mostly male youths sped behind me on bicycles bellowed (well a teenage bellow), ‘GET OUT OF MY WAY‘ (Most normal cyclists would probably say ‘Excuse me’ or ring their bell.) Just that attitude was something unfamiliar and opposite to the friendly, relaxed Dutch style cycling we cyclists have been working towards.
Of course, I was having none of it and carried on! (I am used to dealing with bullies, especially kids and dangerous drivers ) As moments went by, reports of over 2000 anti-social cyclists turned up and ‘terrorised’ the roads and pavements, people on pavements fled out of the way. Road courtesy completely went out the window. it was absolute anarchy.
The cyclists taking part in the activity seem to revel in aggressive and illegal behaviour. In the recent terrorist attacks, everyone in London is nervous about any strange random and aggressive activity.
There was no information as to what it was about, no placards, no marshalls, no police, nothing. Totally disorganised . Drivers, pedestrians, disabled people and other cyclists had no warning either from anyone. At least with Critical Mass you know what it is about and when it will happen and a handful of police help out. The ‘swarm’ came out the blue. Couldn’t tell whether it was a protest or not.
These parentless youths, who were riding mostly without helmets, proceeded to cycle up the wrong way up a major road at great speed, facing heavy traffic, including buses, taxis, motorbikes and doing wheelies, cycling fast on pavements and jumping through red lights through London’s streets as if it was some kind of playground.
Police were called as this was a danger to other people on the road, and even to the cyclists themselves, who probably feel that it must be’ a safe thing to do as their friends are doing it.Young people just think they are invincible. I wonder what their parents thought, they probably didn’t even know what kind of ‘bike ride’ their child was in.
The cycling community, including cycle safety campaigners, grouped together and downplayed the incident as ‘fun’ and ‘that there were some 12 year old kids’ and it was ‘good to get young people on the road’. Many of the cyclist community, particularly those living far away from London, had a ‘good opinion of the incident’ even though they were not there to witness it and only relied on a couple of videos. Many cycle campaigners have never even heard of #Bikestormz. The story would not have been mentioned at all if all the 2000 behaved properly in the first place and it was properly organised. As I am a event steward for high profile cycling and sports events, the organisation of this incident, as I call it, was absolutely Pants. No risk assessment .. it beggars belief really. And no apology from them either. If I had a child, I would not recommend #Bikestormz but go on a properly organised event, such as Skyride or similar, where parents can supervise their kids too.
Anyway, where was I?
Some youths, say about 25 with bicycles parked outside of a local newsagent , entered the shop and started ‘looting’. The newsagent was naturally very annoyed and one of cyclists in the shop, who came along later, decided that he didn’t wanted to be part of the #Bikestormz event as he was aware the police were called, and he didn’t want to be part of anything illegal. He took his bike and then cycled home. He could have been concerned about what his parents would say too. He was a good lad, and I wished him a good, safe trip home.
The online cycling community, who can be pretty tribal, thought that stealing stuff from the shop was apparently ‘trivial’, once again, condoning illegal behaviour and comparing it to motorists’ behaviour when that was irrelevant to the story. Crime is crime, yes, some are worse than others. Other online cyclists who were not there, even denied it even happened.a However, the police were contacted and there is plenty of CCTV and witnesses. It is up to the shop to take action on the #bikestorm thieves. I had to warn other shops in the vicinity when this happened that a bunch of #Bikestorm youths were on their way who may start looting their shops too. They were very pleased to get the warning. LOCK UP YOUR SHOP BIKESTORMZ IS HAPPENING!
I’m all for having fun whilst cycling, after all, I have done lots of fancy dress rides and charity rides. These cyclists racing towards heavy traffic was unbelievably hazardous.
When I was on a bus at the Elephant & Castle, a few months ago, a loads of similar youths sped on pavements with motorcycles, hundreds at a time. Quite of few of them got into trouble I gather with the police. Supposing there were police horses on the road too? What kind of person would want to see a motorcycle coming towards them on the pavement? I expect the motorcycling community would say ‘Oh they’re just kids having fun’.
In a week when Chris Froome wins the Le Tour de France for the third time, it is just shame that some young people and their dangerous and selfish actions spoil it for everyone else. Aggressive cycling takes cycle campaigning backwards.
It is time action was taken to prevent this sort of thing and for young cyclists to act more responsibly on the road, something needs to be done now, before these mass lawless cycling and motorcycle events get even more hazardous. Interestingly enough celebrity cyclists seem to want to distance themselves from #Bikestormz by not even wanting to talk about it, even though they were approached.
Update: There were reports of accidents during the event according to witnesses. Despite the lawlessness of some participants, no arrests were made at present.
If you witnessed any crime with regards to Bikestormz at the weekend, please contact the police on 101. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 https://crimestoppers-uk.org/
The Police have also confirmed to me in an email that they do not condone the bicycle louts’ behaviour at all and I have made a separate post on this.
Update: Autumn 2016 Halloween rampages in Birmingham http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/reckless-ryders-burnt-out-bikes-12116596 (Police took action in this case, and arrested youths and seized bikes)Ambulances were also affected by these feral bikers