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Bike Party to Shut Down BP Station in San Francisco
Friday a group of bikers blocked entrances at a BP owned ARCO gas station at Fell and Divisadero in San Francisco. The demonstrators were protesting the environmental outrage in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as a dangerous bike lane that is perennially blocked by cars lining up to enter the station.
San Francisco, June 11-The message is clear at the ARCO gas station at the corner of Fell and Divisadero streets in San Francisco: $2.99. That once extravagant price for a gallon of gas is now considered cheap, and continually draws heavily oil addicted drivers in need of a quick fix.
In doing so, the drivers’ vehicles habitually sit in the bicycle lane that runs down Fell Street while awaiting entrance to the mainline pumps. This in turn forces bikers into the race car traffic roaring up Fell, and injuries to two wheelers are consequently also habitual.
But that message changed today when dozens of protesters blocked the two entrances off Fell into the station. They filled the entrances with potted plants, blocked them with their bodies, with banners, with a bike powered sound system whose beats inspired dancing and whooping and carried their message to the neighborhood and beyond.
John Marc was holding one end of a banner reading “More Green, Less Wash” across one of the station entrances. “We’ve been trying to get the city to close these entrances for years,” he told me. “There have been countless bike accidents here.”
Marc pointed out one of the action’s organizers, Joshua Hart. I walked across the station grounds towards him, passing people holding signs that said “Health and Safety Before Profit”, and “Today the Gulf, Tomorrow the Bay.”
“We’re sickened with the loss of life in the Gulf,” Joshua told me. “And that BP is still in charge. They’re ordering the media to keep away from suffering animals so people won’t see them. It’s the same as what they do in Afghanistan so we don’t see the suffering people there.
Of the ARCO site he said, “This station is a particular thorn in our side. It’s along the only level route between here and downtown for bikers. We’ve been pleading with the city to close the Fell entrances for 10 years. But they just pass the buck. The don’t want to be seen as anti-car.”
“It’s not car versus bike. It’s about choices in getting where you want to go.
“Don’t boycott BP/ARCO. Boycott oil. Otherwise we’re just perpetuating the problem. We need to get off oil. Cars are the number one source of greenhouse emissions in California. They’re also the number one killer of children in the state.
“People are talking about coming here every Friday. Unless we stand up, nothing is going to change.”
When I asked Joshua if the police had been around, he pointed out four men he said were plainclothes cops standing in the back of the station with one uniformed officer sporting a three foot billy club.
I made my way back to the blocked off entrances. Cars were still going into the station, but they had to come and go from the Divisadero Street entrances.
Back along Fell I asked a woman holding a sign towards passing motorists why she was there. “I want to inform people,” she answered. “To make them aware there are solutions: solar, wind. We don’t need these corporations.” When I asked her name she said I could call her Cody.
I walked up to the bike powered music scene. A guy with a mike was rapping out the action’s messages. Just past that site the largest of the banners stretched across the first entrance off Fell into the station. Big letters spelled out “CLOSED FOR TOTAL RE THINK.”