report from tonight's 'bikes alive' protest

9.1.12: 'bikes alive' is a new direct action campaigning group to counter the lethargy of transport for london, and its prioritising of london traffic flow over the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. tonight saw the first of a series of direct action traffic calming gatherings at king's cross designed to pressure TfL into more urgent action over the deadly junction.

at the 6pm start numbers looked a little thin, with no more than a few dozen cyclists gathered on the corner of euston road and york way in front of king's cross station. they were observed by several police cyclists and a few others on foot.

numbers did gradually build up, and by about twenty past, the action began with probably a little over a hundred cyclists making their way up york way at a snail's pace, forming an effective blockade against the rush hour traffic.

they looped round and back via the scala before completely blocking the busy junction between euston and pentonville roads with york way.

here - next to the white ghost bicycle left as a memorial to 'deep' lee, the young cyclist who was the 16th cycle fatality of 2011 - they chanted slogans against boris, and reclaimed the streets. police began re-directing traffic up york way and round, and traffic tailed back along euston road a long way.

for the next half an hour, the cycle blockade, accompanied by quite a few people on foot, made slow progress back and forth along both sides of euston road outside the station. near the front of the procession were des kay, the bicycle activist who won landmark court battles against police attempts to restrict the monthly critical mass rides, and jenny jones, the green campaigner on the london assembly and the metropolitan police authority.

police response remained (i suspect partly because of jenny jones' presence) reasonably low key, although inspector mcdonald kept asking people to 'keep moving' and he was accompanied by an over-eager community support officer who liked shouting at and grabbing people in an offensive manner.

finally at just after 7pm, after holding the start of pentonville road for several minutes while traffic was once again directed up york way, cyclists agreed to leave en masse rather than dwindle in numbers, des kay recited one of his infamous cycle activist poems, and the cyclists went off into the night.

the plan is to hold regular, possibly weekly, blockades until TfL promise to act. check the www.bikesalive.wordpress.com site for details of next week's ride at king's cross.