The Ventilator

Incorporating The Ranger's Blog

County Press articles

A revolutionary way of mobilising children

Cat James
Latest posts by Cat James (see all)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has demanded more police action to mitigate for how “mob rule is replacing democratic rule”. Now, I’m no political terminologist, but surely the mob can only rule if their demands are actually met?

In 2022, laws around protests were extended to include obstructing public highways, climbing on monuments, and going equipped to ‘lock-on’ to a structure by possession of a padlock or superglue – items which, according to the Home Office, could be used to “cause chaos”. Let’s hope there’s no stop and search outside your local branch of Hurst then.

Measures also include placing conditions to prevent noise being generated on a public procession, plus the use of pyrotechnics and flares. Any Islander reading this might start to get worried about the legality of our historic carnivals and annual fireworks displays!

I had these revisions in mind days after Rishi’s related podium pontifications, as I attended a drum-and-bass bike ride around Southampton.

This very-mobile disco was the brainchild of ‘DJ on a Bike’, Dom Whiting. Dom rides a cleverly customised bicycle, replete with mixing desk and speakers, booming out frantic electronic dance music to followers.

Sunday’s outdoor nightclub attracted thousands cycling in Dom’s wake. And it was not only those of us on bikes in convoy behind the techno pied piper. A very mixed crowd joined the mixtape maestro: skater-boys and roller-girls, electric scooterists (both two- and four-wheelers), plus BMX bandits, twosomes on tandems, hipsters riding vintage cycles, pedalling children, others stowed in cargo bikes, and various compliant dogs in baskets which came along for the ride. This joyous rag-bag carnival of sustainable transport enthusiasts had as much diversity among the humans as in the vehicles they propelled.

Our people-powered parade rolled along a six mile route around the city. By-standers became smiling by-dancers, intoxicated by the atmosphere, as Dom’s live-stream pumped rhythmically from community speakers.

The police kept a weather-eye on proceedings; choosing not to invoke any of their new (or existing) powers, despite there being much noise, smoky flares, and arguable obstruction of public highways.

Although Whiting’s drum-and-bass bike ride was not overtly a campaigning one, it drew attention to what we have lost – and what we could regain – by making public spaces more inclusive. This demonstration proved that even tiny or inexperienced riders can have a joyful time cycling in city streets.

This isn’t a niche issue. A global revolution is being spearheaded by Kidical Mass, which campaigns for safe streets and active mobility for youngsters, united by the vision that children should be able to move around safely and independently on foot and by bike. And, if our public realm is fit for the most vulnerable, then we all benefit.

So saddle up your two-wheeled tinies – and yourselves – for your local Kidical Mass bike ride. Hopefully Sunak and his enhanced police force will look benevolently upon these family-friendly events.

The activism of children could help inform our local transport policy – let the mobilised rule!

This article first appeared in print in the Isle of Wight County Press on 25 August 2023 and also online.

Featured image by Sue Bailey

Cat James

Graphic designer, creative director of Pinkeye Graphics, Isle of Wight County Press columnist, Cat out of Matt and Cat

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.