Extinction Rebellion set up cycle lanes in Cambridge due to 'inaction' from council

16 May 2020, 15:08

The eco-campaign-group announced it had opened two cycle lanes
The eco-campaign-group announced it had opened two cycle lanes. Picture: Twitter

By Matt Drake

Extinction Rebellion have set up their own series of cycle lanes in the city of Cambridge due to "inaction" from the local council.

The eco-campaign-group announced it had opened two cycle lanes in the city to "assist with social distancing".

Linking photos of the efforts on Twitter, the local branch said: "We've opened two new cycle lanes in Cambridge, on Elizabeth Way and Victoria Avenue.

"As other cities act to make streets safe for people, the abject lack of action by the authorities in Cambridge is a source of shame in the UK's supposed 'innovation capital'."

The locations were chosen because they are key linkage points in Cambridge and Victoria Avenue has no cycle lane.

Elizabeth Way has a narrow shared pedestrian and cycle path while cars get four lanes over the bridge.

They claim they had to take the initiative "due to the lack of action from the County Council, City Council, and the Mayor" in setting up the cycle lanes.

In a press release, the campaign group said: "In recent weeks, cities around the country – including Liverpool, Bristol, York, Leeds, and Birmingham – have made detailed announcements regarding the closing of roads and the opening of new cycle lanes and routes. London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has also just announced a landmark programme of new people-first streets.

"By contrast, Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, and Mayor James Palmer, have failed to set out concrete plans for remodelling our streets or installing cycle lanes, despite Westminster and the transport secretary Grant Schapps asking all councils to do so - and despite Cambridge having the highest per person rate of cycling of any city in the country."

Some people took to social media to support the group's actions, with one saying: "Great, just had to step into Cherry Hinton Road to keep 2m from other pedestrians, deliberately driven at by driver vastly exceeding 20mph limit."

But some people were upset by the actions, with another saying: "XR are acting illegally and should be arrested."

A cycle lane has been installed on one of London's most prestigious roads.

The cycle lanes are on on Elizabeth Way and Victoria Avenue
The cycle lanes are on on Elizabeth Way and Victoria Avenue. Picture: Extinction Rebellion

Bollards have been added to Park Lane to create segregation between cyclists and other road users.

It is part of mayor Sadiq Khan's London Streetspace programme, which includes the rapid construction of a strategic cycling network using temporary infrastructure to reduce crowding on Tube, train and routes.

Londoners are being urged to avoid public transport as part of the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Mr Khan said: "I'm determined to give Londoners more safe and sustainable alternatives to travelling by car, especially when our public transport system is under strain due to Covid-19.

"We're creating essential new cycleways across our city."

A cycle lane was already in place in Hyde Park - which is adjacent to Park Lane - but there have been safety concerns about cyclists and walkers being too close to each other.

The mayor's walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman said the new cycle lane is "fantastic" and will make it "safer for more people to cycle and socially distance in London".

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said people had a "civic duty" to avoid public transport if at all possible during the coronavirus crisis.

At the Downing Street press conference, he said the lockdown had been used to carry out a range of maintenance projects on the road and rail networks, and set out plans for nearly £2 billion of extra spending.

However, he said "bureaucratic bindweed" meant British infrastructure was some of the most expensive and slowest to build in the world.

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said, “We fully recognise the importance of making walking and cycling in and around Cambridge as safe and easy as possible as we come out of the Covid-19 lockdown and the economy starts to pick up.

“With the Combined Authority and partners, including Cambridge City Council and Camcycle, we have developed a list of cycling and pedestrian improvements which can be quickly put in place to facilitate and encourage more cycling and walking around the city whilst ensuring that people can protect themselves by maintaining physical distance (at least 2 metres (6ft) from others). These are currently being evaluated and will start to be implemented shortly.

“Increased cycling uptake has a number of advantages. Compared to driving, cycling has a profound health benefit on the cyclist as well as cutting air pollution and traffic congestion.”