Saturday, 9 April 2011

a field student of tweed runs and cycles

Cycling home from west London this afternoon I came, by chance, across the Tweed Run - a retro fashion critical mass which consisted of hundreds of cyclists dressed in tweed riding a great variety of bicycles including penny farthings. I was told 450 cyclists had signed up however it seemed like a lot more. Given the gorgeous weather these elegantly attired cyclists made quite a spectacle. It is a shame a certain black cab driver didn't appreciate this outing and chose to drive through the procession at the junction of Clerkenwell Road and Farringdon Road. Visitors are welcome to download this video if it in anyway helps with making a complaint against or about that driver.


  1. I cycle and I drive. I prefer to cycle and would identify as a cyclist. I would love to see city centres closed to cars altogether, but having been on a couple of my local critical masses I tend not to bother because of situations like the one you've recorded here.

    The event looks like great fun, and I think the taxi driver is out of order barging through like that, but in fairness he/she is trying to get across a junction on a green light while hundreds of cyclists cycle straight through a red light.

    I don't know if this was a formally organised event (dress-code aside!) but critical masses generally don't seem to be. We don't know how long the taxi had been waiting, possibly late for a customer, and possibly with a customer in the back, about to miss a flight or similar? The cyclists are moving slowly and if the taxi had actually driven into any cyclists (as in Brazil) I imagine you would have mentioned it.

    So I'm sure the taxi-driver and the cyclists could all give compelling arguments for getting in the way of the other, but your video clearly shows the cyclists are the ones breaking the law.

    I'm just repeating the oft made point that maybe Critical Masses - even very smart ones - aren't the best way to promote cycling, and that complaining loudly when you were technically in the wrong doesn't help much either.

  2. Dear Tim, thank you for visiting the blog and commenting. I appreciate the points you have made. My post is from the viewpoint of a bystander and I don't in any way officially represent the Tweed Run. There is a web site and this shows the formal organisation you mention - I believe the event was in aid of a charity.
    The video clip is of poor quality in several respects showing only a partial view of the incident at the junction of Clerkenwell and Farringdon Roads. As far as I know there were no serious or injurious collisions between the taxi and the cyclists. I also think the taxi driver was out of order, and from what I know of the area, the taxi driver, (with the 'knowledge') might have been able to turn around and find an alternative route.
    I acknowledge my opinion or account is biased, partly as a reaction to the privileging of motor transport and the belligerence with which the privilege is asserted. The Tweed Run appeared to be an extraordinary peaceable spectacle bringing some humanity to the streets - including the traffic queues at junctions where people had got out of their vehicles and started talking to each other etc.
    I don't know what sort of arrangements were made with the relevant authorities regarding the organisation and management of the procession and what the legalities are concerning blocking junctions/traffic to allow processions to proceed as a whole. It made sense to me that it was in the best interests of all to keep the procession together as fragmentation might have lead to more hazards.
    I can sympathise with the taxi drivers frustration; I work as a driver/distributor in London - a job which involves multi drop delivery/distribution around central and greater London - using a small van and/or bicycle. My understanding of the professional conduct of the taxi driver is formed by this experience.
    I think one of the reasons to live and work in the city is the diversity by which culture manifests itself and that this shows our social lives here are not dominated by absolute imperatives and that such controls can be at least temporarily ousted to allow for a different vision and interaction.