Mar 2024

A large crowd gathered on the Southbank this evening. Flyers had been circulated online that some riders on the Mass wanted to visit the junction at Clerkenwell Road and Farringdon Road, where another cyclist, Cheistha Kochhar, a 33 year old PHD student at LSE, had been killed the previous week while cycling with her partner. Leaflets were also handed out warning about thieves in balaclavas using the Mass as cover to steal phones from pedestrians as the ride goes past them.

The ride left at 7:30pm and unusually travelled along Upper Ground to get to Blackfriars Bridge Road. The ride then arrived at the location, where some regular riders from Mass had installed a ghost bike earlier in the day, kindly donated by community bike shop Babyldn Bikes, which is in the garages of Aberfeldy House in the Brandon Estate. The junction was occupied in all directions, stopping traffic.

The ghost bike for Cheistha Kochhar was sprayed white, and also a large stencil was painted on the road in front of the bike, saying “another needless cyclist death”. When the painting was finished, red distress smoke signals and a distress flare were lit in front of the bike, and the group did a large “bike lift” in the air at the junction, to the sounds of cheers, applause and bike bells.

Police arrived at the rear of the ride after about ten minutes, and the ride headed north on Farringdon Road, towards Kings Cross. Corking was being done and the ride was reasonably well kept together, but as Euston Road was emptied out by the Mass blocking it, the pace picked up and the ride began to fragment a bit as it went west. It came back together at the Warren Street underpass, but then fragmented again after it restarted, causing some friction with motorists trying to turn into Marylebone Road.

The ride had been circulated on some wheelie rider and electric scooter whatsapp groups as a “Good Friday rideout” (see attached flyer). Outreach and discussions with these groups asking them not to bill CM as such is still happening, as a “rideout” generally has different values and ride etiquette to a Mass, the main ones being riding inbetween moving traffic, and not stopping to wait for others behind.

The ride had split in two by the time it turned south on Edgware Road. The fast moving group went to Oxford Circus, and then headed south to Trafalgar Square, then on to Buckingham Palace. The second group followed more or less the same route, about five to ten minutes behind, eventually joining back up at Buckingham Palace. A rider in a black mask snatched a phone from a pedestrian between Bond Street and Oxford Circus, and was chased briefly but disappeared into the streets around Mayfair.

The ride stopped at Buckingham Palace for about twenty minutes, which was mostly deserted. It then picked up again and headed east, along the Strand and past St Pauls, through the city, over London Bridge, and finishing up at Potters Fields opposite the Tower of London.

Feb 2024

(reposted from social media, with permission)

On Feb 23rd Critical Mass London visited the scene where cyclist Gao Gao was killed last year by a driver, who was driving 50mph in a 20mph zone, overtaking in wet conditions, and flipped his car, crashing into her at full speed, killing her instantly. Despite having many previous convictions, and killing Gao Gao, the driver will be free to get behind the wheel again on his release.

Distress flares and smoke signals were lit at the memorial for Gao Gao, as the road was peacefully occupied by participants on the Mass; and the white bike memorial for her at the location where she was killed was resprayed.

From the text of the CM leaflet: “Driving is not a human right, it is a privilege. Successive governments have kicked this reform down the road, despite petitions and lobbying for drivers to lose their license if they kill someone. The “war on motorists” is actually a war on cyclists, with the deaths only happening on one side.”

Respect to groups like the LCC for their continued work in highlighting unsafe conditions and infrastructure for cyclists in London, and for their efforts to change sentencing laws in awful cases like this one.