Great 2015 Die-in Protest & London Cycling Festival
Is this is a good idea?
The November 2013 Die-in was a great success and, considering the short planning period, an amazing success. It was calm, peaceful (except for the police helicopter) and the cello music was a masterstroke (I think my amateur video on Youtube has been watched by as many people as attended the event - the BBC estimated 2,000+ protestors outside TfL on 29 Nov 2013). So let's take more time over the planning and get ready for a much bigger event on a well-thought-out date. The summer of 2014 might be too soon so I suggest 2015. Key dates to consider are:
- 7 May 2015 for the next general election
- 2016 for the next London mayoral election
To get as many protesters as possible and as much media coverage as possible we should:
(1) ask a web designer who is also a cyclist to set up a dedicated website
(2) issue invitations to all candidates for London elections to declare their positions on cycling, for publication on the website (this approach worked well for pro-life campaigners in the US)
(3) plan for full engagement with social media (Donnachadh McCarthy had a great success with Facebook but, with more time, more could be done)
(4) send out a sheaf of Press Releases and hold a press conference
(5) get help from theatre directors, who are also cyclists, on making the protest theatrical - a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth ten thousand words
(6) ask Danny Boyle for advice on a London Cycling Festival (eg with local events in the morning followed by massed cyclists converging on the Mall for a spectacular afternoon Die-in with cellists or pipe bands playing mournful laments) - a theatrical urban landscape event to follow his work for the 2012 Olympics
(7) side events with costumes, floats etc, could draw on the London Marathon and the Notting Hill Carnival for ideas
The 2013 Prudential RideLondon Festival had 70,000 participants and won the Sports Event of the Year award. A similar event is planned for 9-10 August 2014. Could we get them to pause for a die-in?
My first thought was that we should carpet The Mall with 'fallen cyclists' on a Sunday afternoon but there are other possible locations eg the Victoria Embankment or Regent's Street or Oxford Street or Bow Roundabout.
The advantages of the Mall are (1) it is a theatrical space (2) it is associated with great events (3) the TV crews know all the good camera positions (4) our demand for Cyclists' Rights would resonate with Martin Luther King's 1963 demand for civil rights (on the National Mall in Washington DC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_on_Washington_for_Jobs_and_Freedom). Permission from the police and the Royal Parks would have to be obtained http://content.met.police.uk/Article/Organising-a-protest-march-or-static-demonstration/1400002380711/1400002380711. As we all know, the Royal Parks "provide fantastic 'green' routes in London" for cyclists, so they might agree.
Could London Cycling Campaign staff take on the planning of a large-scale demo? It could become the event which turned the tide. I would like Dutch and Danish cyclists to be writing about how to get a cycle infrastructure more like London's! Jan Gehl, the famous Danish urban planner, says New York City is now far ahead of London and "It's interesting that of the three main lists of most liveable cities in the world, they have between 20 and 35 cities listed, and in none of them is any city from the UK. As far as I'm concerned that's because you have a very, very strong tradition of letting the traffic planners rule. They are still in a very strong position. They think that what you see out here is given by God. But in other cities like New York they've been very brave." London also has a strong tradition in opposing oppressors. Let's keep it alive.