Extinction Rebellion Brighton to swarm city on bikes

ENVIRONMENTAL activists will take to the streets on bicycles tomorrow as part of a campaign to show their support for new cycle lanes.

Extinction Rebellion are holding a socially-distanced “bike swarm” in Brighton alongside local campaign group Bricycles to coincide with World Car Free Day.

Cyclists will meet at The Level at 5.30pm to set off at 6pm to cycle through the city in a colourful procession with sound systems and flags. 

The group is asking participants to wear face coverings, to use hand sanitiser and to keep a safe distance from others at all times.

Campaigners will then take to the seafront for a People’s Assembly, with Extinction Rebellion Brighton inviting councillors to get involved with a discussion on how to make Brighton safer for cyclists.

The Argus:

Mimi Pellew, a member of Extinction Rebellion who lives in  Brighton, said: “Government data shows that pedestrians and people cycling are twice as likely to be killed or seriously injured in a road traffic accident in Brighton than car drivers.

“Something has gone badly wrong in our city if the healthy, environmentally-friendly travel option is also the more dangerous one.

“There’s also no route to reducing pollution, which kills dozens prematurely every year in Brighton, and tackling climate change that doesn’t involve encouraging people out of their cars.

“It’s worth noting that, as well as causing premature deaths under normal circumstances, pollution leads to worse outcomes for Covid-19 patients.

“The case for improved, safe cycling and walking infrastructure is overwhelming. We’re happy the council have begun to make progress with the new temporary cycle lanes.

“We now need to build on this and work towards a city-wide network.

“This cycle ride demonstrates the strength and breadth of support for active travel measures in Brighton.”

The Argus:

The new cycle lane schemes in the city, which include lanes on the A259 seafront road and in Old Shoreham Road, has been controversial.

The current measures were introduced earlier this year by Brighton and Hove City Council, then under Labour control, after central government provided funding to adapt infrastructure and promote active travel amid the coronavirus crisis.

While levels of motor traffic fell significantly during lockdown, the number of people choosing to cycle or walk increased.

The new Green administration has asked the government for £2,680,000 to establish four more cycle lanes in the city in the second tranche of bidding.

Proposals include an extension of the current cycle lane in Old Shoreham Road and an extension of the westbound segregated cycle lane on the A259 seafront road.

A new cycle lane on the A259 Marine Parade between the Palace Pier and Duke’s Mound is also proposed, as well as widening an existing cycle lane from the A23 London Road.

Earlier this month, Labour councillors called on the Greens to pause plans to extend the lanes and hold further consultation.

The Argus:

Critics of the cycle lanes have said they are causing delays to bus services and increasing congestion since lockdown rules were eased, particularly on the A259 seafront road.

Last month, the council removed part of the A259 lane from the Aquarium roundabout to West Street due to congestion, just a week after the scheme was introduced.

The Argus: Cllr Pete West. Photo: Nick Ford PhotographyCllr Pete West. Photo: Nick Ford Photography

Green councillor Pete West, former lead member for transport, resigned from his role last week in spearheading the rollout of new lanes across the city after a backlash against the scheme.

Cllr West has stood aside from the role as joint chairman of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee and Councillor Amy Heley will now take on the role in full.

Cllr West remains in his role as councillor for the St Peter’s and North Laine ward.