Yoga protest in last-ditch attempt to save Old Shoreham Road cycle lane

Posted On 20 Sep 2021 at 4:25 pm


Environmental campaigners, including local parents, tried to block the removal of the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane last night – but it has now gone.

Brighton and Hove City Council has spent £75,000 on removing the lane, after Labour and Conservative councillors voted to remove it following complaints from motorists.

Even the sections which did not affect how many lanes of motorised traffic could fit on the road were taken away.

Cyclists say they are already feeling unsafe on the road, and experiencing more near misses and aggression from drivers.

And this morning, there were reports that traffic jams were still forming on the road.

Last night, activists from Extinction Rebellion and parents rolled out yoga mats and performed yoga exercises in the cycle-lane while bicycles were placed on their stands in the lane.

Parents are now planning to set 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 7-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.

“The fact the council can’t stand-up for this cycle lane and the sustainable transport options it facilitates, shows they’re not serious about achieving Net Zero Emissions by 2030.

“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.”

  1. Len Reply

    Sadly, this cycle lane appeared designed to engineer traffic jams where there were rarely any before, adding unnecessarily to the air pollution that comes with queues. All too often, it also led to feeder roads, like Nevill Road and Sackville Road, being clogged up, even off-peak.
    If the council had consulted first, they might have come up with a better design. There are long stretches of the Old Shoreham Road little used by pedestrians, along by the cemetery, for example, where shared space could work.
    Instead, the council seemed intent on creating a conflict between car drivers and cyclists on a road that few cyclists use.
    My family lives north of the Old Shoreham Road and they tell me they drop down at the first opportunity to the seafront, or sometimes they use Portland Road and New Church Road on the flat.
    I can’t cycle. I’m one of those with a hidden disability after invasive surgery for a tumour. Mostly I rely on taxis, and every journey along the Old Shoreham Road cost more because of the delays caused by the cycle lane. I’m not sorry to see it go.

  2. Billy Short Reply

    Most of us are concerned about climate change but it’s hard to see how the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane has anything to do with that, and groups like Extinction Rebellion and Sustrans and newly-made-up groups are looking increasingly cultist in the stance they are taking.

    For sure, if you shut all our roads then traffic would disappear – or at least be displaced – but we then ask the question how are we to transport our goods and how are we to commute to work?
    The original thinking for the OSR cycle lane was that it would provide a much-needed route for cyclists, but then it turned out that we local cyclists chose not to use it, probably because nearby roads provide a less hilly route into the city.
    There were then endless propaganda photo shoots showing families and kids on bikes in the lane, and yet once the camera was gone the lanes were empty again. Several months passed and the warmer weather came and went, more cheesy photoshoots happened, and the OSR cycle lane remained empty. People had voted with their pedals.
    The environmentalists then changed their argument again, saying that the lane would be used in the future, and, as in this article, parents claimed their 7 year olds were particularly ‘upset’. It’s so sad to see the city’s transport policy reduced to dishonest emotive crap.

    The reality here is that we need to look at the best use of shared road space. If we decide to reduce road space allocated to cars and vans and buses then we need to provide viable transport alternatives. The elephant in the room is that we need better and cheaper state-funded public transport, but there is no money for this.

    What happened here was the government provided extra money for cycle lanes under Covid emergency funding and the cycle lobbyists jumped at the chance to get the routes they had always wanted, and it happened without any consultation. They themselves must be shocked at the lack of take up on the OSR route but, instead of admitting their error, they continue to back themselves into a corner, still shouting.

    This shouting helps nobody, and nor does the ‘car haters versus bike haters’ drama that has been created by this stand off. Most of us have access to cars and we cycle when we can, so there is no ‘them and us’. It’s so easy to lose sight of what we should be talking about, namely how we get across the city efficiently, from a to b.

    Active travel is to be encouraged but it’s naive to see this as the only solution. Nobody is addressing the real problems of bike ownership in the city, namely that those of us who live in terraced houses or flats can’t easily store them. If, like me, you do own a bike you’ll know how easily it will get stolen if you leave it anywhere unattended, whatever locks you use. Once home, I have to carry my bike up two flights of stairs.

    As a cyclist I also know that the OSR is just as easy to use by bike as it was before, and the number of cyclists on that route won’t change just because the cycle lane has gone.
    It would be great if we could have an adult conversation about our transport strategy. Extinction Rebellion and Sustrans have totally fudged their arguments and now seem to be roadblocks preventing us from moving forwards.

    • Tim Johnson Reply

      Very well said, some constructive thinking at last.

  3. Bear Road resident Reply

    A regular commentator on another local paper whose ‘tag’ suggests that he is an employee of a cycling lobby group had the bare faced cheek to complain that the cycle lane had been closed due to pressure from a “small vocal minority.”
    Odd – when I checked just now government statistics reveal that four out of five of the UK population rarely or never cycle, over half the population own at least one car (right or wrong those are the stats) and four times as many local trips are made by walking than by bicycle.
    In fact for far too long the majority of the people of Brighton have been intimidated, inconvenienced and generally put upon by the tiny minority cycle lobby. Whilst something needs to be done about the climate situation Brighton council’s single minded obsession with cycling is not the answer.

  4. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Queues will now increase – at A and E, as this has bitten Labour in the bum. Are there enough anti-tetanus vaccines in stock there?

    • harb Reply

      Thankfully, there have been hardly any queues, now it’s gone, unlike before when there were tailbacks at all times of the day. I appreciate your loyalty to your party, Mr Hawtree, but it’s misguided. I’m desperate to see better ‘green’ measures, but this wasn’t one of them, and has set people against the cause. It’s been a huge own goal.

  5. Paul Temple Reply

    A Yoga protest, I think Brighton really has ‘Jumped the Shark’.

  6. Catherine K Reply

    Great work extinction rebellion. Great work to the people blocking the motorways too. Folk should spend less time in cars and more on bikes! You can walk or cycle to the beach. Enjoy the sea and do mindfulness. No need to breath in poisonous gas that damages the environment. All this rushing in cars is nonsense and bad for your minds and the planet.

  7. will Reply

    If only XR, Sustrans, Bricycles and similar would work with us instead of against us, they might make more progress.

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