Direct Action

To take direct action is to directly effect the people responsible for the issue which you are campaigning about. Many effective direct actions are perfectly legal, but direct action can stray into legally grey areas

It is wise to consider the possible consequences in law, as well as for the public image of cyclists and your organisation before embarking on this course.

  • Try and make it visual - one of direct action's greatest strengths is newsworthiness. Direct action is frequently used to grab press and public attention regardless of its success as an action.
  • Know what you wish to achieve and tailor your action accordingly. There is no point in alienating supporters by taking an action that they would not support.
  • Humour can make your point without confrontation: cyclists have planted flowers and vegetables in pot-holes on cycle paths to highlight how unsuitable for cycling they are.
  • If an action is illegal or likely to cause conflict, decide whether it is worth it. Will it reflect adversley on your organisation's other activities?
  • If it will reflect badly on your organisation, but you believe it is still a worthy action, consider doing it under a different name.
  • Check the site in advance. Take photos and make sure that everyone knows the layout of the area well.
  • Pick the time and date carefully, in accordance with what you hope to achieve in terms of visibility and effect. You are not going to get any coverage if you do an action on Budget Day - unless it is tied into the Budget.
  • If you are taking an action which may venture into illegality, then the group should all be made aware of the potential of arrest. It is very important that no-one is organising or leading such a protest, because the potential legal consequences for being in charge are usually greater.
  • Have a calm, well-dressed non-participant on hand to talk to the police and media when they arrive. This person is a spokesperson, not the leader or organiser.Keep it non-violent. Make sure everyone remains calm, and does not react if you are hassled by passers-by.
  • Don't escalate matters into a war on the roads - cyclists will lose.
  • Organise a friendly photographer to record the event. Making these photos or videos available to the media will increase the likelihood of your getting press coverage.
  • Have a full debrief afterwards. Assess your planning and execution of the action, and see if there are any areas you could improve on.
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