College Green was a sea of bikes this morning, sparkling in the bright summer sun.
Two hundred cyclists of all ages and abilities gathered today (July 29) for the Big Ride for Palestine, an annual event since 2015 that uses mass cycling to raise money for the Middle East Children’s Alliance. Last year’s event raised £61,000.
Owen, an event organiser, explained that the Big Ride is ‘for the Palestinians to see that there are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who are outraged by the acts of the Israeli government and are prepared to call Israel what it is which is a racist, apartheid state.’
There were short speeches on College Green before the Ride departed.
Alissar, a Palestinian living in Bristol since 2009, said: ‘This event is raising money to restore some stolen dreams of the Palestinian childhood, which became a hard to get luxury.’
She continued: ‘This event is about raising awareness of all the ongoing crimes committed against Palestinians.
‘Before all, it’s about solidarity, and hope, hope for Palestinians that justice shall overcome one day.’
At 11:00, the Big Ride left College Green towards St Augustine’s Parade. Progress was initially slow due to the traffic lights at the bottom of Park Street. However, before long the entire column was on its way, Palestinian flags fluttering brightly.
This year’s Big Ride charts a route from Bristol to Swindon, Oxford, Luton and finally arriving in London on Sunday. Extra riders are expected to join the Ride as it progresses, swelling numbers to 250.
Speaking to TBA, Owen spoke of the motivation riders have to make the arduous journey.
‘It’s that thing about humanity. The great thing is whether you’re a Muslim, a Jew, Christian, people of other faiths or no fauth, it’s a humanity issue, it’s not a religious issue. And people who see oppression want to do something about it.’
Thursday’s Ride launch was supported by Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who hung banners and provided a sound system.