By Tim Devereux, Chair of the Movement for the Abolition of War
I joined blind peace campaigner Tore Naerland, along with Åse Simonsen, Tordis Landvik for a five-day, 222 mile Bike for Peace ride which finished in Bradford on 1st September. Tore Naerland, President of Bike for Peace, is almost totally blind but is a keen cyclist and has organised similar tours all over the world. I rode on a tandem with Tore, while Norwegian cyclists Åse and Tordis rode solo bikes. Other British cyclists joined us on the various stages of our journey, including Leeds Labour MP and Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament Fabian Hamilton on the first leg.
Bike for Peace is a non-governmental organization in Norway that works for a world without nuclear weapons, for peace and disarmament, to improve the lives of disabled people and for measures to combat climate change (http://www.bikeforpeace.no/).
We rode through Yorkshire and Lancashire, starting with a send-off from the Friends’ Quaker Meeting House in Leeds and meeting Mayors en-route in Skipton, Carnforth, Preston, Rochdale and Bradford. We mainly kept to small roads and paths, but in places, the trip certainly showed the need for better bike infrastructure! When we reached Bradford, after five days riding, the Lord Mayor, Councillor Martin Love, welcomed us with a Civic Reception at City Hall.
Over the years I have ridden a number of times for peace – with Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament to the US Spy Base at Menwith Hill, with Westminster Justice and Peace to mark the climate conference, and last year, a solo Peace Pilgrimage for Pax Christi, visiting RAF Fylingdales, part of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. The climate friendly bicycle makes a great vehicle for peace protesting – it’s part of the solution to one of the two over-riding issues of our times, which I believe are the climate crisis and nuclear weapons.
The toughest bit? Climbing the monster hill just outside Settle – 203 metres at 4 mph. The best bit? Meeting people along the way – we discovered that a tandem with a big CND peace flag on the back is a great way to start conversations! Amazingly, nobody we spoke to thought nukes were a good idea. We here in the UK have so many better things to spend money on than nuclear weapons, now illegal in many countries thanks to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Why not write to your MP to ask why the UK has not signed up to it yet?