Posts Tagged ‘cyclists’

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned

Friday, June 10th, 2022

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned – A rally on Wood Street on Friday 10th June 2016 marked the third day of what became the longest strike ever in the City of London, and later at City Hall a vigil remembered 11 road users killed on London streets since the mayoral election last month, including three cyclists.


Day 3 UVW Wood St Cleaners Strike – 100 Wood St, City of London

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned

Cleaners belonging to the United Voices of the World union employed by anti-union cleaning contractor Thames Cleaning to clean the 100 Wood St offices managed by CBRE held a rally at the end of their picket on the third day of their strike.

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned
The picket

The offices there are mainly used by Schroders and J P Morgan, both large and highly profitable companies, but the cleaners are on poverty wages and several union members had been sacked and others served with notice by Thames Cleaning for organising the workers to demand a living wage.

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned
Measuring the 10m required by the injunction

Rather than talk with the UVW, Thames’s response to the strike threat had been to spend over £20,000 in the High Court trying to get an injunction to prohibit the strikes and protests. Although the court would not stop them, they issued an injunction which set down strict conditions for the picket and protest and this left the UVW with crippling legal costs.

The UVW is a small grass roots union supported only by dues from its members and unlike the large established trade unions has little or no money to run its activities which include educational workshops as well as supporting its members in the workplace and at employment tribunals. Those who perform duties for it are paid the London Living Wage for the time spent and there are no highly paid union officials. The union had to issue an emergency appeal for cash – and received support from people and union branches across the trade union movement.

Candy Udwin, PCS Rep at the National Gallery holds a banner

One aspect of the injunction was that any protest connected with the strike had to keep at least 10 metres from the doorway of the offices. Of course picketing is covered by strict trade union laws and a lengthy code of practice that requires it to be as reasonably close as possible to the entrance and exit, and limits it to six or less clearly identified pickets with a supervisor (and possibly also a union organiser) behaving in a peaceful manner.

The protest took place over a carefully measured 10 metres away on the opposite side of the street after a picket which had begun in the early morning when the cleaners would normally have arrived for work. The strike continued for 58 days before the UVW was able to announce that a satisfactory agreement had been reached with the employer and all further action was ended.

There are four posts about the Wood Street Strike on My London Diary for June (and more in later months) :
UVW Cleaners on Strike in City
Day 3 UVW Wood St Cleaners Strike
UVW Wood St Strike Day 10
UVW Wood St Strike continues


London Traffic Deaths Vigil – City Hall

Although London had an impressive purpose-built County Hall on the south bank just downstream of Westminster Bridge, this was sold off when Margaret Thatcher vindictively disbanded the Greater London Council, leaving London rudderless for 14 critical years. After the Greater London Authority was created in 2000, it was without a proper home for two years before leasing and moving into a purpose-built oddly spherical building by Norman Foster in the misleadingly named ‘More London’ currently owned by the Kuwait sovereign wealth fund who disguise themselves as St Martins Property Investments Limited.

Many saw the move to the new building as a failure of purpose by the Labour government in noy re-acquiring County Hall for the new London-wide authority – but then Labour under Blair continued most of Thatcher’s policies rather than move away from her individualist greed-based approach towards one getting back to the social welfare which had been at the heart of post-war Labour.

London’s City Hall moved in 2022 to Kamal Chunchie Way, Newham, E16 into the former ‘The Crystal’ exhibition centre beside the northern end of London’s ‘Dangleway’ cable car, though this is expected to close fairly soon as no replacement sponsor has come up to keep it running.

Sadiq Khan had retaken London as a Labour Mayor on May 5th 2016, with a decisive win over Conservative Zac Goldsmith and the Green candidate Siân Berry trailing badly in third place. Since then, 11 people had died on the streets of London, roughly around the average for that period in Greater London (in 2019, the total for the year was 125.)

Siân Berry

Protests are – at least theoretically – not usually allowed in ‘More London’, but this one was hosted by Green Party London wide Assembly Member Caroline Russell, a member of the GLA Transport Committee and organised by London Women on Bikes (LWOB), #LondonBusWatch, Westminster Living Streets and BMX Life. Of the 11 who died, 3 were cyclists and the others were on foot.

Most road deaths are not ‘accidents’ but “happen because road users make mistakes, often made harder to avoid because of poor vehicle or road design. Many of them result from a lack of proper facilities for pedestrians and cyclists in a road system which prioritises getting motorised vehicles from A to B as fast as possible rather than safety. Some are caused by the failure of police to enforce road traffic law – for example on advanced stop lines at traffic lights.”

One of the cyclists killed was BMX rider Dan ‘Cash’ Stephenson, hit by a bus on the Strand during a BMX Life charity ride and many other BMX riders had come to the vigil, wearing tartan ribbons in his memory as he always rode in tartan. There were a number of speeches and then the names of those killed were read, followed by an eleven minutes of silence when those at the vigil were invited to stand in silence or to lie down, with or without bikes, in a silent ‘die-in’.

As the vigil came to an end and people were beginning to leave we were all called back for a highly emotional moment when Dan ‘Cash’ Stephenson’s daughter spoke through tears about her father.

London Traffic Deaths Vigil


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Refugee Children, Dead Cyclists & A Squat

Friday, February 11th, 2022

Refugee Children, Dead Cyclists & A Squat – 11th February 2017

Dubs Now – Shame on May

Five years ago, on Saturday 11th February 2017, a crowd of supporters of Citizens UK and Safe Passage joined Lord Alf Dubs at Downing St to take a petition to Theresa May urging her to reverse the decision to stop offering legal sanctuary to unaccompanied refugee children.

The Tory government had been forced into an unusual humanitarian response when Parliment passed the Dubs amendment, and they were then given a list of over 800 eligible children – although there were known to be more whose details were not recorded. And because of Lord Dubs, around 300 have been allowed into the UK. But although twice that number remain in limbo, many in the Calais camps, Prime Minister Theresa May decided to end the scheme.

Lord Dubs speaks

Among those who spoke at the protest before an emergency petition with over 40,000 signatures was taken to Downing St were speakers from four London Labour councils who all said they had told the government they would take more children but their offers had not been taken up.

Dubs Now – Shame on May


Invest in Cycling – Stop Killing Cyclists

Cyclists and supporters met in Trafalgar Square to march to the Treasury on the edge of Parliament Square to call for a significant increase in spending on infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians on our streets.

That week five people were killed on London streets as a result of careless or dangerous driving – accidents are rare, but such deaths are made much more likely by a road system engineered around the needs of car and other vehicle drivers and cutting their journey times through the city. Facilities for cyclists and pedestrians have long been treated as secondary and chronically underfunded.

But these 5 killed, who were remembered in the protest and die-in are a small fraction of the numbers who die prematurely each week in London as a result of high and often illegal levels of air pollution – estimated at around 180 per week, as well as the much higher number of those whose lives are seriously affected by health problems – both figures including many who drive. Powerful lobbies for motorists and vehicle manufacturers have led to the domination of our cities by cars and lorries.

There are huge health benefits from cleaning the air by cutting down traffic and congestion, and also by encouraging healthy activities including walking and cycling. And the main factor discouraging people from taking to bikes for journeys to school, work and shopping etc is the danger from cars and lorries. Better public transport also helps, particularly in cutting pollution levels, and anything that cuts the use of petrol and diesel vehicles will reduce the major contribution this makes to global warming.

Invest in Cycling – Stop Killing Cyclists


ANAL squat in Belgravia

My final event that day was a visit to 4 Grosvenor Gardens, a rather grand house short distance from Buckingham Palace (and more relevant to me, from Victoria Station.) Squatting collective the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians (ANAL) had taken over this house on February 1st after having been evicted from the Belgrave Square house owned by Russian oligarch Andrey Goncharenko which they occupied for a week.

I’d meant to go there a week earlier, but a domestic emergency had called me away earlier in the day from a protest at the US Embassy before a programme of workshops and seminars in the seven-storey squat had begun. There was nothing special happening on the afternoon I visited (though some things were happening in the evening) but I was welcomed by the occupiers, several of whom recognised me, and they were happy for me to wander around the building and take photographs.

Apart from being careful to respect the privacy of some of the occupiers who were sleeping or resting in a couple of the rooms I was able to go everywhere from the basement to the top floor, but the door leading onto the roof was locked, probably to stop any possible access from there by bailiffs. Like many other houses and hotels in the area it has a view into the grounds of Buckingham Palace, but I had to make do with the view from a rather dusty window, or the less interesting view from lower down where windows could be opened.

Few squats have blue plaques – this one for soldier and archaeologist Lieutenant General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, but more recently it has been in use for offices, business meetings and conferences. The squatters have tried hard to cause no serious damage and had last week turned out some people who had come to make a mess of the place.

There are around 1.5 million empty buildings in the UK, many like this deliberately kept empty as investments, their value increasing year on year. The number is enough to enough to house the homeless many times over. ANAL say that properties like this should be used for short-term accommodation while they remain empty and they have opened it as a temporary homeless shelter for rough-sleepers.

It remained in use for almost month, with the squat finally evicted at 8am on 27th February. As I ended my post, “There clearly does need to be some way to bring empty properties back into use, and councils should have much greater powers than at present to do so. Until that happens, squatting seems to be the only possible solution.”

ANAL squat in Belgravia


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Waving to Copenhagen – 5th Dec 2009

Sunday, December 5th, 2021

Remember Copenhagen? This was COP15, and generally thought to have been a great failure, with developed countries’ refusing to adopt targets on limiting emissions by 2020 and developing countries insisting on their right to develop their economies and catch up with the big polluters.

But 2009 did see an upsurge in general interest in climate change, and one of the largest events in London against it, with many large charities combining in the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and conducting what seemed more a PR exercise than a protest, culminating in a ‘Big Wave’ outside the empty Houses of Parliament at 3pm. Everybody around Parliament waved, made a lot of noise and then wondered what to do next.

As I wrote at the time:
Although it was good to see a wider participation – although despite that huge potential and massive publicity the march was perhaps only a little more than five times the size of previous years – this year’s event, entitled ‘The Wave’ did seem more a stunt for the media than an informed political event. Surely with the backing of 11 million the coalition should be making demands, not just waving, and it’s perhaps hard to see the significance of blue hands and faces in a demonstration about global warming.

It did appear to have been an opportunity lost to adopt a more robust attitude and push our government at least into some action. The day of protest also involved all the other groups who had been protesting over climate change for some years – and seemed to me to rather be hi-jacking the annual climate march by the Campaign Against Climate Change rather than getting behind them and working with them. That feeling underlies much of my reporting of the day, which I split into the seven sections on My London Diary – as below.

Climate Emergency Bike Ride

After two speeches at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the ride, organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change went on to hold demonstrations outside the London offices of two multinationals guilty of activities that are contributing to climate change, BP in St James’ Square and E.On in Pall Mall. Speakers there outlined some of the damage the companies were doing to the environment and how their activities were accelerating climate change.

Climate Emergency Bike Ride.

Climate Emergency Rally

The Campaign Against Climate Change had also organised a rally in Hyde Park before the march organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition who were gathering in nearby Grosvenor Square, presumably to avoid anything political. While the Coalition were simply calling for “a fair and effective international agreement” , CACC made clear that “there is no chance of an effective agreement until the North wins the trust of the South and it will only do that if Northern countries like the UK match words with action and take radical emission-reducing measures at home.” The failure of Copenhagen showed they were right.

Climate Emergency Rally

World Association of Carbon Traders

The ‘World Association of Carbon Traders’, group of around 50 smartly dressed ‘city gents’ – who included a few ‘gentesses’ and rather more bad false moustaches – along with power-dressed business women, joined the joined the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition march under the banner ‘Carbon Trading: The Final Solution’. Their ‘ CO2$’ logo and placards including ‘Trust Me, I’m a Banker, Capitalise On The Climate’, ‘In Markets We Trust’, ‘One Solution. Trade Pollution’, ‘Greed is Green’, ‘Carbon Trader = Eco Crusader.’ and ‘Cash In On Climate Change’, which as well as the ‘Permits to Pollute’ they were handing out made their ironic intention clear.

I recognised some of the faces of these agents from previous demonstrations by the Space Hijackers, a group who call themselves ‘Anarchitects’ whose various projects over the last ten years given a new creative face to protest.

World Association of Carbon Traders


The Wave – Before the March

I took a few pictures of the crowds gathering in Grosvenor Square for the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition march on my way to and from the CACC rally.

The Wave – Before the March

Anticapitalist Block – Not Much Waving

For a minute or two this banner led the march as it came through Berkeley Square while march stewards came and argued with them. After a short while and the intevention of a rather stout cop these protesters were persuaded to roll up their banner and suggested they join the march rather further back.

There they joined a few others dressed mainly in black, some carrying red or black flags behind another black banner with the message “NO BOMBS NO BAILOUT NO CAPITALISM“. The block left the march and went to Jubilee Gardens rather than stay for the wave at Parliament.

Anticapitalist Block

Marching to the Wave

Marching to the Wave

The Wave

They waved. And then the stewards tried to get them to disperse. Some stayed on in Parliament Square., and I photographed some of them with banners, including Climate Rush. Their banner with a large heading ‘EQUITY’ carried the message “Emission Quotas Must Be Per Capita. The RIch Have No More Right to Pollute Than the Poor”.

In my caption I commented “It’s a principle seemed certain to prevent real progress at Copenhagen – as the rich and in particular the USA – won’t accept it.” And so Copenhagen was doomed to fail.

The Wave


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Clean Air – 1990 cyclists and 2019 XR East London

Monday, July 12th, 2021

Cyclists protest, Whitehall, Westminster, 1990, 90-11c-14
‘Let London Breathe’ – Cyclists ride down Whitehall to a Trafalgar Square rally – November 1990

Back in 1990, I rode with hundreds of cyclists from the London Cycling Campaign and others protesting about the terrible air quality in London from Battersea Park to a well-attended rally in Trafalgar Square. Following the rally, some MPs raised the issue in Parliament.

XR East London marches for clean air – 12 July 2019

Almost 30 years on there has not been a great deal of progress – and the statistics now show almost 10,000 excess deaths per year in the city due to air pollution, and untold misery from various respiratory conditions, some crippling. In 2019 XR East London met at Bethnal Green on Friday 12 July to march to Hackney behind a banner ‘The Air That We Grieve’, calling for a rapid end to the use of fossil fuels.

Much of the pollution comes from road traffic, and the already announced end to the sale of new trucks, vans and any other combustion-powered vehicle from 2030 onwards will do a little to improve air quality, but existing petrol and diesel vehicles will continue to be used for many years, though we may see more stringent ultra-low emission zones to restrict their use in cities.

But although the switch to electric will cut down pollutants such as nitrogen oxides as well as reducing climate changing carbon dioxide, it will still leave other harmful substances such as particulates from tyres and brakes in the air. And the carbon footprint is only lowered so long as the electricity used to charge those car batteries comes from truly renewable generation.

Cleaner air in cities also needs us to move away from the car to more eco-friendly means of transport – such as public transport and bicycles. Even electric scooters and electric bikes also have a part to play.

Better public transport means more trains, light rail, trams and buses. The simplest and most cost-effective solutions are probably more dedicated bus lanes and bus-only routes, and giving buses greater priority in traffic. Many years ago I cycled in French cities where buses had priority and motorists (and cyclists) had to give way whenever they wanted to pull out from a stop, and changes like this to our Highway Code and traffic rules would make a difference.

In 1990 cyclists were calling for 1000 miles of dedicated cycle routes through London. We do now have some ‘cycle superhighways’ and ‘quietways’, although many of these – we are now supposed to call them ‘cycleways’ – still involve sharing with often dangerous traffic. Progress is still slow, and there is bitter opposition from some interest groups, particularly black cab drivers.

We need too an overhaul of London’s taxi system, with rules still made in the days of horse-drawn Hackney cabs. I’ve often stood at bus stops in the City waiting for my bus, held up by traffic while 20 or 30 or more black cabs drive by, the great majority of them empty. A move away from ‘ply for hire’ to smartphone based systems summoning a cab from a nearby taxi rank would hugely cut both congestion and pollution in the centre of London.

More at XR East London marches for clean air. You can click on the black and white image above to go to the album with more pictures from the 1990 cyclists protest.


As always I was travelling around London on public transport (I sometimes bring up a folding bike on the train) and as the march neared its end I boarded a bus in the opposite direction back to Bethnal Green where I took the tube back to Holborn, then took the short walk to the University of London’s Senate House, where exploited outsourced workers were holding a noisy protest after the newly appointed Vice-Chancellor Wendy Thomson had failed to reply to a request to meet them and discuss their grievances. You can see more about this at IWGB welcome new Vice Chancellor.


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.


Aldermaston 2008 – 50 years

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

Protesters join hands to surround the nuclear weapon factory at Aldermaston

I missed the first major march to Aldermaston organised by the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC) and supported by the newly formed CND at Easter in 1958. I was only thirteen at the time and not that interested in politics at the time, but was very aware it was taking place as my two older brothers (both no longer with us) walked the full distance, coming back tired and rather muddy after four days of marching from Trafalgar Square in the centre of London to the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire to demonstrate their opposition to nuclear weapons.

I didn’t go the whole way on the 50th anniversary in 2008, and although I had planned to join the group that were cycling from London I didn’t manage to do so, though I did photograph the cyclists as they rode down Oxford St.

On the Bank Holiday Monday they were cycling from Reading where they had stayed the night along with the walkers, mainly sleeping on the floor in church halls, and I had hoped to join them there for the final stage to Aldermaston. But I got up too late and missed the early train which would have got me there in time – and the next train half an hour later ran late, so I missed their start. Instead I rode on my own along the route that I’d taken on the march there four years previously, finding that on a bike it was rather hillier than on foot.

The Bikes not Bombs group arrive at the Aldermaston bomb factory

Once at Aldermaston, the bike made it easy for me to go to all the gates around the large site of the AWE to take photographs of the protesters there who later moved to surround the perimeter of the base, holding hands around it. And although I’d left Reading later, my more direct route meant I was able to photograph the arrival of the ‘bikes not bombs’ group with their police escort of two cars and several motorbikes.

After making the human chain around the AWE – I think around 4 miles long – and speeches and performances at the main gate it was time to go home, and I got back on my bike for the 12 miles or so to Reading, a slightly easier ride as the wind was behind me and Reading is around 60 metres lower, though the road still had plenty of uphill sections. But I took my time, even stopping to take a few photographs on the way.

Our nuclear weapons programme has never made any sense and the idea of nuclear deterrence has served only to enrich the arms industry. The expense of our nuclear submarines and their warheads diverts money away from more useful areas such as health and education, and the nuclear programme has skewed our power generation to increase electricity costs for us all. It cannot be justified in military or economic terms, but for most of those protesting the most important aspect is that the use of nuclear weapons can never be justified on moral grounds.

The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which entered into force on 22 January 2021 prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, Instead of signing this, the British government have announced an increase in number of nuclear warheads – in contradiction to our previous international agreements about the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas, Walter Wolfgang, John Mc Donnell and Japanese peace campaigners

More pictures at Aldermaston – 50 years


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.





Naked Bikers

Friday, October 25th, 2019

I hadn’t gone out of my way to photograph the London World Naked Bike Ride, but the point where all the riders who start at a number of points around central London meet up for the final section of their ride was close to the station from which I get my train home, so it seemed to be worth taking a few minutes to cover the event.

The first London WNBR took place in 2004 but with very little advance publicity – I’d attended and photographed ‘Bikefest’ which it is associated with on the day it took place but remained unaware of it. In 2005 I was out of the country when it took place. So I first photographed this event back in 2006, when quite a few people I knew were taking part.

This year I think there was nobody I knew in the event, or at least no one that I recognised without their clothes on. The ride is billed as “a protest against oil dependency and car culture” and back in 2006 it appeared to appeal to many people involved more generally in environmental protests. The message of the ride has never been very clear to those watching it and I think over the years the participants have changed, and it now seems much more dominated by naturists and has a rather smaller proportion of women taking part. The total number of riders this year, stated to be 1300, was roughly twice that in 2006.

There are some problems in photographing the event. It take place on the public highway, where no one has any expectation of privacy – and indeed people ride naked to make a statement, but some have tried to restrict photography in various ways. Not that this has ever had any effect on the crowds of tourists who the ride surprises who almost to a man (and many women too) get out their phones and take snap after snap.

But while the legal position on taking photographs of the event may be clear, there are problems in publishing the images in some media and particularly on platforms such as Facebook. I try hard to take at least some pictures with discretely placed saddles and handlebars.

I’d had enough after around 15 minutes and didn’t bother to try and follow the cyclists after they had moved off, though it would have been fairly easy to catch them several more times as they cycled around central London. But I went to a nearby pub with a friend I’d met photographing the event, and then on to cover another event. Or at least to try to; I arrived outside the Home Office at the right time on the right day to find no one there. I waited for a bit, checking the details on my phone, but after waiting for 20 minutes caught a passing bus to Vauxhall for the train home.

More pictures from the 2019 London World Naked Bike Ride.


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.

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