XR’s Garden Bridge

While Boris Johnson wasted many millions of public money as London Mayor on a crazy project for a garden bridge across the Thames where no-one wanted it and it fortunately came to nothing, Extinction Rebellion provided one for free for a few days .

It helped that they didn’t actually have to build a bridge, but just took over an existing one, Waterloo Bridge, closing it to traffic. This did cause a certain amount of disruption, and doubtless inconvenienced some people, but it, together with their other actions around London, did serve to put the issue of climate catastrophe – and the very real threat of human extinction unless people across the world take radical action – into public consciousness.

It was a minor inconvenience for me, as found myself having to walk around London rather than sit on a bus rather often during the week, though fortunately the tube was still working. But were I a transport planner for London, I think that at least one of London’s bridges – though probably not this one – would be permanently pedestrianised. We have far too much traffic in central London, causing far too much pollution – and thousands of early deaths – and the congestion charge hasn’t solved the problem.

It was very pleasant to be able to walk across the bridge past the trees and plants, or to sit for a few minutes in the sun and listen and watch the activities taking place on the bridge. And the air there certainly felt cleaner, once you were on the bridge and away from the traffic jam south of the river.

Many of those on the bridge had travelled up from the country, and had brought a little of it with them. Some had even walked all the way from Cornwall. Extinction Rebellion has certainly gained a great deal of support, if largely from the kind of people who will go to public meetings and listen to their speakers. Most could be labelled middle class, though not mainly the comfortable and affluent high-consuming middle class, but largely those in low-paid occupations; teachers, social workers, health workers were I’m sure all over-represented.

XR has developed from the activities of groups like ‘Stop Killing Londoners’ whose protests against air pollution in the city I’ve photographed from their start, working on the ideas of Roger Hallam on non-violent protests and people being prepared to be arrested (as I photographed him being arrested at the LSE in a protest for the cleaners there.)

There were arrests at the ‘garden bridge’ but on the couple of occasions I visited police just watched and occasionally took notes. XR’s attitude to the police and their policy of encouraging people to be arrested has been much criticised by others, and they appear to have little regard for the problems it may cause and have under-estimated the support needed. But these are desperate times and rather than carping perhaps the critics should be showing an example by launching their own, more effective actions – but there is little sign of that happening. XR certainly isn’t a perfect game, but it has little competition.

More at Extinction Rebellion Garden Bridge

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.