Thursday 30th June saw the first attempt to a General Strike in Britain for more than 80 years, although it was primarily a Public Sector workers' strike.
As part of the support for the strike from people who are not necessarily public sector workers, a Critical Mass happened in South London, visiting the picket lines that had been announced and showing support.
We met at about eight in the morning in Burgess Park. About 50 people on bikes set off at about half past eight, with more and more people joining as we biked.
The first drivers showed their solidarity by tooting, and soon we reached Elephant and Castle, where we greeted the picket outside the London College of Communication. After two rounds to the roundabout, the Mass continued towards Brixton, on the way meeting another picket line. We stayed with the workers for a few minutes while the mobile sound system got fixed, and we had music from then on.
Once in Brixton Oval (the public open space where Reclaim Your Food used to give away food every Sunday) we also joined some workers demonstrating there for a few minutes, and then what look like a hundred-strong crowd appeared at the door of Lambeth Town Hall.
After a brief spell up Brixton Hill we headed East again, towards Camberwell and on to New Cross. Up to that point the cyclists had managed to deal with the traffic by doing things like corking (staying static at junctions while the mass passed safely unrammed by cars and bigger vehicles). From New Cross on we had the kind help of Police (seven vans at one point) which made a difference in terms of respect showed by motorists. Amazing what the mere presence of a well-marked police vehicle can do to motorists' behaviour. On the occasions when we lost sight of them and then they appeared behind us again, all yelling at us, insulting and generally threatening behaviour from drivers on four wheels dissapeared. So in that sense their presence had a positive effect except on one occasion when a driver almost knocked off one of the bikers and a police officer just threatened to arrest both the aggressor and the victim.
When the mass arrived outside Deptford Town Hall, at about ten, it joined the demonstration that was taking place there. Lots of flags and a banner of South London Solidarity Federation were the landmark of a brief street party interrupted by the forces of law and order. The joint demonstration became a march towards Deptford and once there, the march and the mass went their own separate ways.
Police did not seem to realise it though, and a line of police on foot started to follow the critical mass. When it was obvious they would not keep up with the bikers, they were picked up – and apparently seven vans were needed for the picking up operation.
Critical Mass then made its way to Whitehall and Parliament Square, where it melted itself in the crowd.