Global Street Party, 16 May 1998 - report

Tallinn

May, 15 Estonian Green Movement's Traffic Group organized an action in the centre of Tallinn. Around 50 bikers and pedestrians gathered for a "happening" next to a 6 lane urban road, at the point where a year ago there were traffic lights for pedestrians crossing the street. Now one has to walk 500-700 m extra to cross the busy road by a tunnel (that does not have facilities for geting child carriages or bikes down and up). At the spot of the previous crossing the municipality has raised fences to prevent people from walking over the street.

The idea was to draw attention to that building roads for cars does not improve pedestrian and bikers mobility, instead it is a barrier for them and the alternatives for car driving have become very dangerous. Last year 25 bikers and 73 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents (ca 40% of all traffic deaths). So we had 25 white blankets - 25 persons with their bikes laid down to the sidewalk, they were covered with blankets. As soon as we had covered the first person with blanket the cars slowed down (we were not blocking the road, though), thinking that this was a real accident (.... when you are alive and riding the bike, they never slow down, when you are dead, they are ready to stop to see the blood...). So we were 25 lieing there for some minutes in the memory of those dead in an unequal traffic system. We had a banner "Kellele kiirteed, kellele piirded" - "Some get highways others get fences/barriers" (that one newspaper interpretated TOATALLY wrong: there was a picture of this banner in the newspaper, and a title under it: the demonstraters demanded that except building highways there should be also fences built for bikers, so that they are "safely" isolated from the rest of the traffic.!!!!!!????).

We ended the action with blocking the traffic for some minutes to cross the street at the ex-zebra. The whole thing happened next to a police station, but they did not even show up, except for the small two car crash just next to the demonstration place, cause the drivers were "confused" by the happening and hoping to see some corpses.

Bikers continued to take part in a traditional 3 day biketour in central Estonia, and on the 16.5 we had a similar action on the busiest road in Estonia, where the DoT is planning a highway. So it was not Reclaim the Street, but Reclaim the Road event, with 900 bikers, who participated in the biketour (but it is true, that probably 95% of the bikers were not there for blocking the road). The traffic was closed for 15 minutes, and slowed down for 2 hours (with the help of the police...)


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