Introducing Cycling Rebellion, Extinction Rebellion's two-wheeled cousin

The nascent group aims to push for more cycling infrastructure across the UK - starting in Bournemouth

Cycling Rebellion
(Image credit: Cycling Rebellion)

A cycling offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, the British-based environmental protest movement, has been launched, in an attempting to pressure national and local government into building new and better infrastructure for active travel.

Cycling Rebellion is the brainchild of Adam Osman from Bournemouth, who is hoping to grow his south coast group into a national campaign for safer cycling in order to decarbonise transport. To date, Cycling Rebellion has organised two Critical Mass rides in Bournemouth, including one on the weekend just gone, but this is just the beginning. 

A website is underway, and Osman is looking to build on the tactics of Extinction Rebellion, Cycling Rebellion's bigger brother.

"Cycling Rebellion aims to be a national-level campaign in every town or city, doing things like mass bike rides and actions that draw attention to the big need for cycling infrastructure," Osman told Cycling Weekly on Monday.

"Cycling Rebellion will be one of XR's affinity groups. There's Money Rebellion, Plastic Rebellion, there was Animal Rebellion. There are groups targeting important issues, but no one was broaching the fact that our cities are designed for cars and not for cyclists and pedestrians.

"We're starting here, but we will be trying to engage with people across the country. Anyone who wants to start a CR group can do it pretty much instantly. We will provide the flyers, the event ideas, help people communicate with the council. Research you can use. Hopefully this can really quickly bring attention to the need for better infrastructure."

The group argues that its relevance is clear: that cycling infrastructure is nowhere near where it should be if the country is really focused on a net-zero future.

Just last month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used an interview with the Sunday Telegraph to lay out his opposition to low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), which he portrayed as "anti-motorist". LTNs, schemes that seek to promote walking and cycling by stopping motor vehicles from using certain local streets as cut-throughs, rose in popularity during the pandemic.

“The vast majority of people in the country use their cars to get around and are dependent on their cars," he wrote. "When I’m lucky enough to get home to North Yorkshire, it’s more representative of how most of the country is living, where cars are important.

“I just want to make sure people know that I’m on their side in supporting them to use their cars to do all the things that matter to them.”

Osman and Cycling Rebellion is looking to campaign for the exact opposite of this, and pressuring those in power to help society move towards a carbon-free, lower-car future.

"I've always cycled..." Osman said. "I look around Bournemouth where I live, and the infrastructure isn't there at all. It's getting there in some places, like in London and its commuter infrastructure. It's one of the quickest ways to combat climate change, by decarbonising travel, but we don't have a lot of time to switch over to more sustainable forms of transport. It needs to happen now. There isn't time.

"We want cycling infrastructure funded and councils to be able to do what they want. We want 20mph speed limits on all residential streets, and shopping streets where it makes sense. We want LTNs as much as possible. We also want suspension of infrastructure that will promote more car journeys."

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.