Sunday, June 17, 2018

We few, we happy few, we band of #ottbikeaction

It has been a bad time lately on the streets of Toronto. There are four ghost rides planned this week in Toronto, for cyclists killed by drivers recently - last Friday, for Jonas Mitchell; today, for Aaron Rankine-Wright; then June 20 for Dalia Chako and another for the man, whose name has not been released, who was killed in Markham the same day. 

So some people on #ottbike figured we should do something at the same time, here in Ottawa, to show solidarity with #biketo. The two communities on Twitter are pretty close: we talk, we share experiences, we stand up for each other, we follow each other, we put our heads together on best practices and advocacy.

So, a couple of people dug up an old hashtag - #ottbikeaction - and started using it as a space on Twitter to organize direct protest action. 

Marna Nightingale kind of took over organizing the first one, which was tonight, realizing that really all these things need is someone to say, "yes, we're doing a thing. Be at X place at Y time and bring the following items." Everything after that is comms.

So that's what we did tonight, in conjunction with the ghost ride in Toronto for Aaron Rankine-Wright. It was a little short notice, so we were a small bunch - just five of us. But great oaks from little acorns grow, right?

So we rode from the end of Laurier and stopped off at the corner of Laurier and Lyon to draw a ghost bike and write messages. Then we continued on to City Hall, where we turned the concrete barricades set up for whatever they're set up for into our own chalk mural spaces.

For the next rides, we figure something similar - pick a high-profile site in Ottawa, ride there, break out the chalk, wear black, and if there are enough of us, stage a die-in. (We decided against attempting a die-in of only five, because, well, that would look a little silly. Next ride. Are you in?)

One nice thing was the couple from England who had just moved to Ottawa and stopped to talk to us as we were scrawling things all over the sidewalk at City Hall. They seemed genuinely interested in the bike advocacy going on in Ottawa, and also apparently had a mutual friend with some members of our group, via a pub knitting night in Bristol. Who knew?

"We can take better care of each other."
"#ottbike / #visionzero / #biketo" 

"Ride like you were living in the early days of a better nation."

Taking the opportunity to talk bike advocacy with some newcomers to the city.

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