The activists and parents rolled out yoga mats and placed their bikes in the path of oncoming machinery removing the cycle-lane road markings on Old Shoreham Road in Hove, near the Goldstone Retail Park, on Thursday, September 16. It was the third night the activists had tried to prevent the removal work, which took place overnight for six nights.
The Old Shoreham Road (OSR) cycle lane was brought in as one of a number of 'active travel' schemes locally during the first national coronavirus lockdown but, in August, it was decided it should be scrapped: Read more: The cycle lane Old Shoreham Road cycle lane will be scrapped | Brighton & Hove Independent (brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk)An Extinction Rebellion spokesman said: "The activists took this action on behalf of local cyclists, young people and school children who want to address climate change through cycling safely and sustainably to school. They are calling for a permanent cycle lane along Old Shoreham Road to connect poorer areas of the city directly to central Brighton.
"They staged the protest to bring attention to the health benefits of cycling and to demand a right to safety on the road for those who make ethical and sustainable choices in their transport. Parents in the area have now responded to the cycle lane removal by setting up a 'Bike Train' along Old Shoreham Road at school travel times, where children and adults can ride together to create safety in numbers on the road.
Brennan Holt, a spokesperson for the local group of parents, said: “It is heart-breaking to watch the removal this week. The OSR cycle lane was a beautiful thing to come out of lockdown.
“It signified a progressive and positive step for the city, opening up opportunities for groups to cycle that would never have had the confidence before, creating links to schools, local parks and into town. Many people did not know about the consultation and are shocked and surprised that the lane they use daily, is now being taken out.
“My kids feel very upset and let down. They want to cycle along there like they have been. To use my seven-year-old son’s words - ‘it’s just stupid’. Setting up the ‘Bike Train’ is a necessary step we are forced to take, in order to feel safe along this hazardous stretch of road.”
Isobel Pinto, a 24-year-old student and spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Brighton, said: “Removing this cycle lane is an absolute crime. By taking it away, the Council are putting pupils cycling to school in danger – something pointed out by the council’s own officers.
"Research has shown it did not increase congestion, contrary to what opponents claimed. In fact, given enough time, it will encourage people out of their cars – reducing local pollution and helping the Council to reach its climate targets.
“It is well-known that to avoid the worst of the climate crisis, we need to cut emissions now. That means we can’t wait for everyone to get electric cars. We need to shift people out of fossil-fuel powered vehicles in the immediate-term. Active travel infrastructure that make people feel safe when cycling, is an essential part of that.”