June 2, 2009 - 4:54PM
A Frenchman with an apparent aversion to lifts has been arrested in Sydney after climbing one of the city's skyscrapers.
Alain Roberts, who calls himself the real spiderman, stopped traffic as he scaled the 41-storey RBS Tower, in a stunt condemned by police.
The 46-year-old was charged after the incident, with police saying he not only endangered his own life but those of onlookers and emergency services personnel.
But more than 200 office workers who stared skywards agog at the feat held a different view.
They cheered Roberts when he reached the top of the building and again when he was arrested on his descent.
A female office worker who stopped to watch after a morning meeting said it was thrilling to see someone climb the building.
"I think it's really important for people to push the limit," she said after taking photos on her mobile phone.
"I think it's an important part of life going out and doing crazy things. It's absolutely ridiculous. It's great. I love it."
Roberts has climbed dozens of skyscrapers around the world to draw attention to climate change, he says.
Police closed off a section of Bent Street between Phillip and Macquarie streets, with officers ready to arrest Roberts on the roof and on the ground.
The Frenchman took less than an hour to climb up and down the 218-metre building, even taking time to chat with office workers on a lower level as he made his way back to earth.
Superintendent Ken Finch was less than impressed with Roberts' efforts.
"The potential for danger not only to that person is enormous but a danger to onlookers, and to the emergency services who were diverted from the normal course of their duties," he said.
"It's not only dangerous, it's time-consuming and costly to the taxpayers of this state."
Roberts was taken to The Rocks police station and questioned before being charged with risking the safety of another by climbing a building or structure.
He was released on bail to appear at the Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday.
It's not the Frenchman's first brush with NSW police: in 2003 he was arrested for scaling the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
He has climbed more than 70 skyscrapers around the world including Chicago's Sears Tower, the Petronas towers in Malaysia and Sydney's Centrepoint Tower in 1997.
According to his agent Max Markson, Roberts has been arrested more than 100 times for his troubles.
The publicist said he had no idea Roberts was going to scale the building before he began his climb.
"I came down here and he just leapt out of my car and started climbing the building - I was shocked," Mr Markson said.
The RBS climb was a protest against global warming, an issue Roberts was passionate about, Mr Markson said.
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