Have you seen groups of youths riding around the city on bicycles, on their back wheels looking totally crazy and sometimes slightly intimidating? I have. Once on a motorway ripping down the lane swerving between cars and there were a lot of them! After seeing this a few times i thought i should look into this seemingly recent phenomenon.
In the USA in a city called Springfield (the capital of Illinois) there is a bike group called 413 BikeLife. Its one of many groups that come under the term BikeLife which is a loose collective of like-minded cyclists riding in groups of 10 or more — sometimes in traffic and often defying the laws of gravity, if not the rules of the road, with wheelies, swerves and other stunts. You can see some of the stunts and the vibe of the riders here on this youtube video.
As all bike trends seem to spread like wildfire, this soon spread to the UK. Enter "BikeStormz", officially launched in 2015.
The first BikeStormz ride was an event that happened in 2014. Fast forward to today it continues to bring youths together from different boroughs and cities across the UK and Europe to ride through the City of London in unity, using bicycles and a unique style of riding as a common ground to protest against violent crime. They have a mantra ‘Knives Down, Bikes Up’, Bikestormz is supported by the authorities and several sponsors such as Subway, and the rides also have the backing of the police, the local council and the London Mayors Office.
You can find out more about the initiative including the founder and sponsors HERE on the BikeStormz website.
The twice annual event brings together up to 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. Since its beginning, the movement has spread to cities across the UK and to European cities Paris and Amsterdam.
What i love about this event, is that it takes cycling to the other end of the spectrum from functional and practical to pure fun and games. The adrenalin of taking over streets on bicycles must give the kids and riders a real rush. Cycling isn't always just about saving money, saving the environment or cutting down commuting time, it should also be about pure joy.
So next time you see a bunch of youths riding around like crazy on the streets, it might not be such a bad thing. Don't get intimidated. Kids getting into activities such as cycling can be actually diverting them away from more serious crimes, even if they are breaking a few road traffic rules.