16-17 May: Extinction Rebellion say ‘No Going Back’ to busy, polluted streets as lockdown eases.
● On Sunday 17th May Balsall Heath Extinction Rebellion took part in a physically distanced action calling for the government to prioritise health and well-being as lockdown begins to ease.
● The protest inspired by “Reclaim the Streets” involved celebrating the generous pavements in Balsall Heath which are currently threatened by the proposed Moseley Road widening scheme and chalking bicycle symbols in the Bus and Bike Lane creating bike aware space for safe cycling.
● The protest came as the government pledged to invest £2bn over the next 5 years in safer cycling, with Extinction Rebellion saying it doesn’t go far enough
● Pollution, mainly coming from transport, is responsible for killing around 40,000 people annually in the UK and has already been linked to making people more susceptible to Covid-19
“This is the time to reimagine our streets. The increase in air quality is tangible to all. We can’t go back to the pollution we had before where cars are king. It’s time to share space equitably; putting people and the planet’s health first. Enabling our children to walk and cycle safely with adequate physical distancing will help make our local community thrive and reduce the spread of Covid-19”.Jo Hindley 54, Balsall Heath resident and local midwife
This weekend Balsall Heath Extinction Rebellion invited people to ‘Reclaim the Streets’ and join them in peaceful, physically distanced protest. The actions are calling for the government to prioritise public health and well-being as the UK lockdown is eased and to invest in safer streets for walking and cycling.
Beginning on Saturday 16th, groups around the UK have been reclaiming streets by painting stencils of bikes in normally congested, polluted areas with non-toxic paint or chalk, to create their own pop up bike lanes followed by a physically distanced bike ride to ride the newly reclaimed streets.
Although the group welcomes the government investing an emergency £250million to widen streets and bring in temporary bike lanes, Extinction Rebellion says the current long term spending plan doesn’t go far enough as every town and city will need to make huge changes to allow people to safely physically distance.
The protest came as the nationwide lockdown began to ease with emissions expected to rise sharply as roads begin a slide back to business-as-usual after the last two months of cleaner air in our towns and cities. Extinction Rebellion are saying No Going Back to polluted, busy, toxic streets – as are the public, with only 9% of people wanting to go back to the way things were before the pandemic hit.
The action did not involve blocking roads or limiting road use.
“Spending £27bn on a road building program during the dual climate and coronavirus crisis, is suicidal. A simple way to reduce transport emissions is to make cycling convenient and safe. 70% of all journeys are less than 5 miles. In the age of e-bikes virtually everyone can cycle such a distance”.John Christophers, 60, Balsall Heath resident and Architect,
The truth about cars
Whilst cars rule the roost on our roads, a quick step down history lane unveils that it hasn’t always been that way: Bikes were there first. The question now stands, do we want to return to the poisonous and polluted roads designed to prioritise traffic or is there a different way that prioritises our health and wellbeing?
Whilst we welcome the government’s investment of £400 million annually for cycling and walking this is far from the £6billion, 20% of the Dft budget the UN says should be being spent annually on safe cycling. Pollution, mainly coming from transport, is responsible for killing around 40,000 people annually in the UK and has already been linked to making people more susceptible to Covid-19. Sadly the impacts of air pollution cut lives short. 
Even if the public transport network was running at full capacity, only one in 10 people would be able to travel while keeping to physical distancing rules. 
Notes to editors
 No Going Back Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2605702599748337/
 Only nine per cent of Britons want to return to life as normal after the end of the lockdown – https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/coronavirus-uk-lockdown-end-poll-environment-food-health-fitness-social-community-a9469736.html
 UN 20% of transport budget for cycling – Spend 20% of transport on cycling and walking, urges UN report.
 Air pollution linked to far higher Covid-19 death rates, study finds –https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/07/air-pollution-linked-to-far-higher-covid-1
 UK air pollution and asthma: the right to clean air – https://friendsoftheearth.uk/clean-air/uk-air-pollution-and-asthma-right-clean-air
 The 20 most bike-friendly cities on the planet – https://www.wired.com/2015/06/copenhagenize-worlds-most-bike-friendly-cities/
 Even if the public transport network was running at full capacity, only one in 10 people would be able to travel while keeping to social distancing rules – https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/uk-52642222
About Extinction Rebellion
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.
Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.
Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:
1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
What Emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers | This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook
● In the UK, come to one of our events , join the Rebellion Network and let us know how you can help out.
● Start a group where you are: in the UK or around the world.
● Find your local group.
● Check out the International XR website , with links to the French, German, Italian and UK websites.
● And while your time and energy are of most importance, if you are financially able to donate money, see our crowdfunder .
About Rising Up!
Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.