Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Manchester's Biggest Bike Protest!

I have only lived in Manchester for the past few years and I haven't (yet) done any research into the history of cycle campaigning in the area. However, I am fairly certain that Monday night's Space4Cycling ride is the biggest cycle demonstration in a very long time, possibly the biggest ever.

Around 500 people gathered on pedal cycles in St Peter's Square. The start was fairly low key, and the start was announced by a police officer.

The ride was marshaled by people carrying, and occasionally wearing blue GMCC tabards.

The police were holding the traffic well on the main roads,

and had kept the roads around the conference centre clear of traffic.

The ride outside Manchester Town Hall.

The ride then carried on into the Northern Quarter where the smaller roads made policing more difficult, and many critical mass regulars found themselves having to plug side roads.

There were only two sound systems on the ride despite the numbers.

There were a few unusual machines like this rickshaw with it's entourage of youngsters.

The police were also much more effective than Critical Mass at holding the trams for the passing riders.

It was only a short ride and it soon returned to St Peter's Square.

The ride ended quietly, though there was a shout for a bike lift for a group photograph.

As a show of numbers the ride was very successful. However, there has not been much sign of press coverage and there was no clear leadership of the ride, nobody got up to talk about the purpose of the demonstration.

The lessons I learnt from the demo are that we can get large numbers of people out in Manchester to protest about conditions for cycling. However, we need to make sure someone is primed to welcome the riders and we need to make more of an effort to get the press involved to report on this growing groundswell of protest.


  1. Lots has been learned and will be incorporated into any future events. We must all start somewhere and the security concerns for the conference caused extra difficulties wrt route choice and police support including our original instruction NOT to cork side roads by the police.

    If anything the comparisons with critical mass have been unhelpful in the planning stages as it introduced a laissez faire attitude that I was not wise enough to keep in check.

    Thanks for supporting the ride and bringing the music, I personally feel it was a success considering time from conception to be able to coincide, legally, with the conference.

  2. I think it was a wonderful evening. Not only the ride itself, but I found myself on a feeder ride into Manchester, exploring routes I never knew existed.

    I feel the point about lack of media attention stretched to every protest at the conference, apart from one, where people were there in such huge numbers it was difficult to ignore, but even then, the press did a good job of smothering it.

    There needs to be a focus for the next one. Another date with significance and then we can build on what has been learnt and continue the momentum.