Extinction Rebellion campaigners were active across the country this weekend creating their own pop-up bike lanes in places where they are urging local authorities to make safe space for cycling – although some councils quickly began removing them. In some places, socially distanced group rides were held yesterday – although at least one planned ride, in Bristol, was called off.
Here’s a round-up of some of the activities we’ve noticed from the weekend’s action, one of the purposes of which was to highlight the dangers to health and the environment of motor traffic returning to its past levels, or even higher, as the lockdown is gradually eased across the UK.
Saturday saw people creating bike friendly streets through the use of stencils to mark out cycle lanes including on routes to hospitals, parks and on high streets, while on Sunday people were encouraged to celebrate having reclaimed the space, including through socially distanced bike rides.
One such ride took place on Liverpool Road in the London Borough of Islington, as shown in the following tweet.
Clean Air, Safe Streets. Protest cycle ride with @XRIslington today took us down Liverpool Road to highlight that @IslingtonBC needs to take action to keep us safe as lockdown eases. Families joined and socially distanced cycling #spacefordistancing💙 #cleanair pic.twitter.com/260FD7tPZK
— Liverpool Road Clean Air 💙 (@LucyFacer) May 17, 2020
A bike lane was stencilled outside Islington Town Hall on nearby Upper Street – although by 5pm on Saturday, workers were already removing the markings on the road, which is controlled by transport for London rather than the borough.
Islington Rebels came out early this morning to #ReclaimTheStreets by creating pop up cycle lane at Town Hall 🚴🏿♀🚴🏼♂🚴♀
Traffic already following the guides!
— XR-Islington 🌍 (@XRIslington) May 16, 2020
Over in Merton in south west London, campaigners gathered outside the local council’s offices, getting their message across with the help of a classic song from The Hollies.
We don’t want much. Our needs are simple. We want #cleanair to breathe @Merton_Council @cllr_alambritis @TfL @CleanAirLondon @CleanAirMerton @Siobhain_Mc @MartinWhelton @SaveWimbledon @MumsForLungs @XRMerton #NoGoingBack #anotherworldispossible @SaveWimbledon #windofchange pic.twitter.com/KPZE1bgAh2
— Daniela Tilbrook (@TilbrookDaniela) May 17, 2020
Down on the South Coast, Brighton also got a pop-up bike lane, as tweeted by local cycling campaign group, Bricycles.
— Bricycles (@Bricycles) May 17, 2020
In Essex, too, the message was sprayed onto the streets of Colchester.
Rebels reclaimed streets of Colchester today - Keep Cycling & Walking - let's make it permanent! No going back to business as usual @Essex_CC @yourcolchester #ReclaimTheStreets #NoGoingBack #AnotherWorldIsPossible #extinctionrebellion pic.twitter.com/QZeq8XgZT7
— XR Colchester (@xrcolchester) May 17, 2020
In Bristol, however, a planned ride to call for safer streets for cyclists and pedestrians was called off an hour before it was due to start yesterday following concerns expressed by some supporters on the local group’s Facebook page.
The ride had been due to was due to start and finish at Queen Square, taking in a two-hour circuit of the city centre, and in common with similar events around the country, participants had been asked to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines.
But an hour before it had been due to start, the group said on Facebook: “Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Given concerns shared by some we have decided to cancel," the announcement said.
“The action was very carefully considered and designed, with social distancing measures that went above and beyond government and scientific safety measures – with spacing of 10-20m.
“However, we do not wish to cause any distress in these difficult times and so have taken the decision to cancel.
“Wishing you a peaceful Sunday,” they added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.