As part of Situation Leeds 07, we approached Leeds Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) about developing a project together. Over a number of weeks we attended Leeds MAG meetings in order to share ideas on recreation, activism and politics as a collective that operates within multiple and varied networks. Formed in 1973, MAG was initially mobilised through direct protest against the incoming law to ban riding without a helmet, which was seen as an encroachment on riders’ freedom. These days, such methods of protest are no longer affective and instead the group focuses on gaining visibility, providing information to governing bodies and fund-raising in order to lobby in parliament on issues defending motorists rights.
MAG’s main publicity event was the organisation of an annual demo-run of usually around 200 motorcycles to pass through Leeds city centre. Some of the MAG members, although of course enjoying being part of the spectacle, felt that the reasons for this enhanced visibility were not being transmitted to the public as the group rode by. Although the demo-run was filmed almost every year, it was suggested that it would be good to film it again, and edit it with interviews of a number of MAG members talking about their idea of what MAG was for them today and why they wanted to be there. Everyone we interviewed had a different reason for being there which countered the idea of a singular collective identity.
The subsequent film was screened at Hyde Park Picture House and commemorative motorcycle patches were produced and distributed through Situation Leeds and through Leeds motorcycle community.
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