Swerving in and out of traffic in a pack of 3,000 cyclists may not sound like everyone’s idea of a good time, but it is for Jake.
The Bikestormz cycling movement has brought thousands of cyclists onto the streets of London. Jake, known as Jake100 on social media, is a cofounding member along with Mac and Don Trappy.
It’s part of a wider Bike Life movement which includes motorbike riders and BMXers.
“I’m part of a team called Street Elite,” Jake told Socialist Worker. “It’s hard to say how many people are involved. On one of the ride outs we had 2,000 to 3,000 riders.”
The popularity of the sport has skyrocketed and now Jake has over 50,000 followers on Instagram and 20,000 subscribers on his YouTube account.
Sports companies have started offering sponsorships to promote their products. Despite this interest Jake insists the sport remains open to everyone.
“All you need is a bike,” he said. “You can do tricks on any bike.
“It’s not focused on competition so much. Everyone just pushes each other and tries to create their own style.
“There’s no rivalry or anything like that.”
Social media plays a key role in the movement by linking up people who otherwise wouldn’t be in contact.
Jake said, “There are people from across the whole country involved. We stay in touch over Instagram and other forms of social media. Pretty much everyone I ride with isn’t from my area.
“I’m from near Stratford and the riders I ride with the most are from north and east London.”
Dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people taking over whole streets in central London on bikes is a dramatic way to reclaim public space from private transport.
“There’s a whole deeper meaning to what we do,” said Jake, pointing out that it’s not just about doing tricks. One of the slogans of the movement is “KnivesDownBikesUp”.
“There’s not a lot for the youth in London really,” he said. “If you play football or one of the mainstream sports there are things you can go and do. But if you have other interests there aren’t really the facilities, and the same if you don’t have the money for your interests.
“People want to go out and have an adventure. They want to go out and see new things about the city—I see new things every time I go out. It’s a whole new experience.
“It attracts a lot of people because they want the feeling of belonging to something. When you come down to a meet up you can chat to anyone there, you belong to a whole family and a movement.
“We just want the freedom to explore the city.”