Biannual ride-out brings central London to a halt with message of ‘bikes up, knives down’
Naomi LarssonSun 23 Dec 2018 09.23 GMT
The roads close to Tower Bridge in London are surprisingly quiet for the Saturday before Christmas, but turn the corner on to Tooley Street and it’s flooded with young people on bikes. Riders throw their front wheels into the air and wheelie their way across the road. Others stand to the side making last-minute fixes to their bikes and paste stickers on their frames that read “Stand up against knife crime”.
This is not your typical mass cycle ride. It is BikeStormz, a biannual ride-out during which thousands of people from across the country bring central London to a halt as they ride together in protest against violent crime. “It’s about getting the kids together without fighting,” says the event’s co-founder Mac Ferrari, 35. “Together they can put down the knives, just for the day.”
As many as 1,000 people joined the ride on Saturday to promote the message of “Bikes Up, Knives Down”.
The BikeStormz community is a lifeline for many riders. Photograph: Teri Pengilley for the Guardian Since the first BikeStormz ride in 2014, more than 4,000 people – mainly teenagers, but also children as young as nine – have joined to protest against youth violence. The idea is to give young people an alternative to crime through bike riding. In the last four years, the movement has spread to cities across the UK from Birmingham to Liverpool, and to Paris and Amsterdam. The most skilled riders have become celebrities in the community. One of the founders, Jake100, has 100,000 followers on Instagram and a deal with Nike.