The Bristol Bike Theft Awareness Group organised a ride last year to raise awareness of the crime problem in and around Bristol. That run, with over 700 bikes, was a huge success.
Interestingly one local lad who may or may not be connected with bike thefts ‘attempted to disrupt’ that run and was arrested on the day.
From the Bristol Bike Theft Awareness group’s Facebook page;
Last year was the first ride and a real game changer.
•The Police saw the numbers that turned out in support.
•The local non biking community saw a cause and got behind it.
•Within hours of the ride 4 people had been arrested followed by several others over the following weeks.
•Police, Crime Commissioner and councillors committed to addressing the issue of bike theft making it a policing priority.
This year’s ride (Sunday 16/9/18) took place partly at the request of Avon and Somerset Police (there’s a shocker!) who have been working with the bike community. Unfortunately Bristol City Council seems to have been less keen.
Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees had resolutely ignored the issue and all contact from anti theft groups. This stony silence was so loud that a letter writing campaign was organised encouraging people to contact Bristol Council and the Mayor (wording copied below) to request dialogue.
Dear Mayor Marvin Rees,
It has come to our attention that a close friend and campaigner for bikers rights and community safety has been trying to contact you for quite a while, you have shown him not one shred of respect to even bother to reply to him let alone agree to talk about this issue that is happening in your city.
We the biking community and public of Bristol have a massive problem, one that you as Mayor of this great city should be taking a lot more seriously, you are allowing a city to turn into a lawless place and I as well as the whole of the community do not want to see it end up like London and fail to protect the very citizens that keep this city running.
We are not asking for much we merely want to be able to express our concerns to you and discuss how you can help us volunteers to tackle this massive theft problem, hopefully together we can prevent the violent attacks that are happening on what seems to be a daily basis in other cities across the U.K.
If you are willing to take note of what is happening around you and willing to talk to us even if it’s a telephone call it would mean a great deal to us and most likely the community that put you where you are today, please get in contact with one of us and lets work together and make this city a safe place again for all of us.
The original plan for this year’s run had been to meet at the Park and Ride carpark outside Bristol. But Bristol City Council insisted that a fee of £20,000 be paid for the use of it. You might think the city would be interested in showing off their lovely park and ride scheme to a group of people who have such an interest in transport but no. They wanted twenty thousand fucking quid.
It’s almost as though they don’t want us around.
A couple of private enterprises stepped in to make up for Bristol City Council’s obstructive attitude and this year’s run attracted another large group of riders to Asda’s Patchway carpark.
Bikes gathered, the media was there to interview the organisers, police representatives and people who have had their bikes nicked.
After a quick intro and safety talk from the organiser the group set off on a secret route through Bristol.
It was great to see so much variety. Mopeds, Vespas, Supersports, adventure bikes, Harleys, enduros and hard core commuters all riding together.
I’ve never seen a ride so well organised! The pace was slow, no one was in danger of getting left behind. Marshalls moved ahead of the group and sat on every junction to make sure no one got lost and followed up at the rear to look after any potential breakdowns.
Riding en masse through Bristol was a great vibe. The locals looked enthusiastically puzzled and took photos, children waved and cars beeped, surprisingly, in support.
The group clogged the city centre for some minutes but no great inconvenience was caused to anyone. As a public awareness event it was very successful.
Heading out of Bristol the ride pulled over to regroup and for what turned out to be a vape-and-selfie break. How very modern.
The group headed off through some of Bristol’s outer fringes and then back in to the final destination, Ashton Gate football ground’s car park for an excellent but expensive hot dog.
It’s the little things that stick in your mind. The organiser (who’s name I still don’t know) shook hands with every single rider on the way into the car park before grabbing the mic to thank everyone for coming.
He mentioned that again this year another gentleman had been detained for trying to interfere with the run.
There was one last development on the day. In the evening it was announced that an email had been received from Mayor Marvin inviting some discussion of the city’s bike theft problems. Either the letter writing campaign had worked or maybe Marv had got stuck in traffic surrounded by motorbikes.
It was a great event with a good atmosphere. Big thanks from me to the organisers and marshalls for doing such a great job and to Asda and Aston Gate for stepping in where Bristol City Council feared to tread.