XR Cambridge make new cycle lanes in Cambridge despite lack of permission from authorities

The group have used spray paint to change the layout of two busy city centre roads


On Saturday 16th May, Extinction Rebellion Cambridge made their own cycle lanes in Cambridge, condemning the layout of the streets in Cambridge city centre. They targeted two of Cambridge’s busiest streets, Elizabeth Way and Victoria Avenue.

Using spray paint to change the layout of both streets, activists created two new “cycle lanes”, which were marked with solid white lines and bicycle symbols. The lanes are bordered by fluorescent cones, and activists wrote “new road layout ahead” signs on paper.

XR Youth Cambridge (XRYC) explained that “the locations were chosen because they are key linkage points in Cambridge, with Victoria Avenue having no cycle lane and Elizabeth Way having a narrow shared pedestrian and cycle path while cars get four lanes over the bridge.”

The demonstration was part of a “mass mobilisation action” centred around “reclaiming spaces”, and is part of the National Extinction Rebellion action “No Going Back”. Using the hashtag #reclaimthestreets, the action is focused upon making space for cyclists, reclaiming the roads and making them safer. In a Twitter post, XR described it as “the future we want and need – streets designed for people, open space for everyone to access.”

XR Cambridge said that “the new cycle lanes are said to assist with social distancing in the city, help accommodate the boom in cycling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, keep cyclists safe, and as a first step in reimagining our streets as we emerge from the crisis.”

Nathan, a spokesperson for XR Cambridge, has said that “The lack of action on road closures and cycle lanes by the County Council, City Council, and Mayor James Palmer really should be a source of shame in the city that labels itself the innovation capital of the UK. If, during a pandemic, in the city with more cyclists per person than anywhere else in the UK, when cycling is booming, with car traffic absent, and when Westminster has asked councils to take action, the authorities in Cambridge can’t agree to put out a few bollards, it begs the question: are these governing authorities fit for purpose?”

XRYC are also going carry out a protest this afternoon in Cambridge (May 17th). Activists will take to the street using bicycles, banners and clothes with people cycling “individually” or in their “family groups”. Participants have been asked to attend Parker’s Piece between 4.30pm and 5pm today, where they will be handed “flags and other stash”, before cycling through Cambridge in a bid to raise awareness for the organisation.

Last week, Extinction Rebellion Youth Cambridge (XRYC) spray painted on buildings on the Cambridge West campus, as part of a wider XR initiative, “#NoGoingBack”, which calls for an end to business as usual once lockdown is over.

Extinction Rebellion has been contacted for comment.

Cover photo credit: XR Cambridge