I was walking tonight from Great Queen Street in Holborn to a hotel in Southampton Row. I took a familiar route by the back doubles to avoid the huge crush around Holborn tube station but was somewhat alarmed to hear a cacophony of noise from the junction at Holborn tube. It sounded like a mob of drunken football supporters and I was pleased to be taking a back route. That is until I reached Southampton Row, on the opposite side of the road from the hotel where I was dining. I saw a mass of cyclists, grouped very closely together and many of them were carrying devices blasting out noise – some may have thought it was music. It looked quite impossible for me to cross Southampton Row, such was the mass of cyclists and they clearly had no intention of obeying the traffic lights which I had assumed would make it easy for me to cross the road. They also clearly wanted to block the road space and prevent pedestrians from crossing as well as making life impossible for cars, lorries and, for that matter, ambulances and fire engines, not to mention the police who were nowhere to be seen.
Welcome to Critical Mass, a cycling protest group or, to be more precise, an anti-car group who apparently deliberately gum up Central London streets with their mass cycle ride on the last Friday evening of every month. I will know to avoid Central London on the last Friday in future and I hope shopkeepers, pubs, hotels and other businesses will make their views known.
Having stood on the side of Southampton Row for some minutes while these cyclists came to a grinding halt but so as to block the road completely, I decided to push my way across. A small number were helpful and asked their colleagues to make way for this pensioner pedestrian but a lot more just sat on their saddles and were clearly determined to occupy the road at the expense and to the detriment of all other potential road users.
I think this was a complete disgrace. It brings the whole cycling community into disrepute and I want to know why the Metropolitan Police are not out in force to cart then away, confiscate their bicycles and lock them up? They are guilty of obstructing the highway by their behaviour.