As the climate change and environment activist group Just Stop Oil started their tenth week of protests in the country’s capital, things came to a head when a cyclist decided to take matters into his own hands and started pushing and pulling the protestors, telling them to “f****** move” and “go and protest properly”.
Dressed in blue shirt and blue shorts with a bike in hand, the cyclist appeared to aggressively shove the activists blocking the Holloway Road in Islington, London this morning to draw attention to the group’s demand for the government to stop licencing all new oil, coal, and gas projects.
“All of you, get out of the f****** way! Move!” screamed the cyclist, as he was joined by another man wearing a blue shirt. The two of them managed to clear off a section of the road to let drivers by.
As the cyclist was leaving the site, he said: “Go and protest properly, you s*** a*** c****!”
*Warning: clip contains strong language*
🌡 What are we supposed to do in a crisis caused by our government? Sit tight and wait until they decide to call an election? pic.twitter.com/VQPCtB4OmM
— Just Stop Oil (@JustStop_Oil) June 26, 2023
However, Just Stop Oil asked: “What are we supposed to do in a crisis caused by our government? Sit tight and wait until they decide to call an election?”
Meanwhile, some people suggested if the cyclist was guilty of assault, and questioned if the police would take action against the cyclist.
After today's incident, Just Stop Oil has replied to road.cc regarding the cyclists’ involvement and him asking the activists to “protest properly”.
A spokesperson said: “We understand that it is frustrating when individuals like this cyclist get caught up in disruption, but history shows that only disruptive protest works. We’re not prepared to stand on the pavement and be ignored, the stakes are too high.
“We face increasingly frequent extreme weather events such as heatwaves, wildfires and floods which threaten transport, homes, health and livelihoods. Our crops will not survive and we will face mass starvation and the collapse of ordered civil society unless we stop new oil and gas.
“We need everyone, including cyclists, to join us on the streets.”
The Metropolitan Police confirmed enforcement actions had been taken after today's slow march, which saw four groups march in different locations on the capital. Officers, issuing the Section 12 used against unlawful assemblies, including blocking roads, cleared the Islington road later and informed that traffic was back to moving now.
Those assaults are intentional and deliberate; if he wanted to ride his bike through he could very obviously have done so.
— Drew Law (@Drew129Law) June 26, 2023
The incident has once again heightened the violent rhetoric against activists, with another incident showing a motorcyclist driving through two protestors holding a banner. Figures like Howard Cox have declared on live television that he is “tempted to run the protestors over”.
After today’s video went viral, reactions were mixed. Some people pointed out that the drivers for whom the cyclist was clearing the way would “happily run him off the road”, while others claimed that the man had done more than anyone “to amend cyclist-driver relations”.
Irony being most drivers would happily run him off the road.
— Samanta's Wildlife (@SamantaWildlife) June 26, 2023
Man done more for for the promotion of good cyclist/motorist relations than anyone bar none. https://t.co/aiPRtGNx2Q
— Richard (@DickyTrickle) June 26, 2023
It’s not the first time that a cyclist has found himself in opposition to the environment activist group.
Previously in May, a cyclist on the pavement of the same road as the incident today approached the Just Stop Oil protestors and accused them of “harming the cause” and “f***ing it up for all of us”.
The rider – who pointed out to the protesters that he was “a liberal and a cyclist” – told them: “Everyone is just trying to go about their business, go about their day, and you are f***ing it all up for all of them.
“You might feel better about yourselves, but all you are doing is harming the cause because everyone hates you.”
He added: “I’m a liberal, and a cyclist, and I live in north London – and I hate you.”
The incident, as expected, divided cyclists’ opinions on social media, with people questioning how can you be a cyclist and oppose Just Stop Oil, while others claimed that despite being a cyclist they didn’t agree with the methods used by the group.
Three weeks ago, Just Stop Oil, which usually takes to the roads on foot and organises slow marches to cause disruption and draw attention to their cause, staged its first ‘slow cycle’ demonstration, as activists rode their bikes slowly in London’s West End.
A spokesperson from Just Stop Oil told road.cc that the change was part of the group’s plans to “evolve” its tactics in the face of what it claims is the government’s attempt to “restrict our legitimate rights to protest”.
“This criminal government is quietly signing off on over 100 new oil and gas projects that will hasten climate collapse and destroy the conditions that make human life possible. It is an act of war against the young and millions of people in the global south,” the spokesperson said.
“At the same time, they are enacting laws to ensure that no-one can stop them. They are restricting our legitimate rights to protest and to march in the road as people have done throughout history to express dissent. So, our tactics will continue to evolve.
“We are happy to show solidarity with cyclists everywhere and ask them to join us in civil resistance. Whether marching or cycling we will continue to do whatever is non-violently possible to end new oil and gas.”
What do you think? Should cyclists be in support of Just Stop Oil’s environment activism or is their disruption too much of an inconvenience in the face of climate change?
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.