Portsmouth Extinction Rebellion holds cycle ride amid hope lockdown environment becomes 'new normal'

CAMPAIGNERS took to cycleways and roads with the message the city's environment has ‘never been better’.

Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 3:26 pm

Members of Portsmouth Extinction Rebellion group took part in a bike ride along Southsea seafront on Sunday, sharing the message of how the environment has improved since lockdown measures were introduced by the government in March.

The lockdown has not only led to much fewer cars on the roads, but also appears to have encouraged more people to take up running and cycling, particularly along the seafront.

It comes after a campaign was launched in the city to improve pavements and cycle lanes as well as making some roads for residents only.

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Extinction Rebellion members in Southsea ahead of their bike ride, campaigning for more cycle lanes and for residents to 'keep the momentum' up on environmental friendliness. Picture: David George

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Campaigners are delighted with how the environment has improved since lockdown began, with the water in Portsmouth Harbour being clearer than it has been in a long time.

Extinction Rebellion coordinator Selma Heimedinger said: ‘We really like things how they are now.

‘There’s much less pollution going into the atmosphere and the city generally has never looked healthier.

‘We’ve proven as a country that we can be environmentally friendly and live without our cars – so really there was no reason why we couldn’t do this before.’

The cyclists travelled from The Coffee Cup in Eastney Esplanade up to South Parade Pier.

Nationally, Extinction Rebellion warns that as lockdown restrictions are eased, emissions could rise sharply as roads begin a slide back to business-as-usual after the last two months of cleaner air.

Fellow campaigner Sarcha Wheeler said: ‘There is no better time to push this agenda.

‘It’s really nice seeing everyone getting outside and ditching their cars, and we think this should carry on once lockdown is over.

‘The air quality in Portsmouth would be so much better if this became the new normal, instead of us falling back into our old ways.’

As part of the No Going Back campaign, Extinction Rebellion members will be pushing for more cycle routes in Portsmouth – describing the current layout as ‘inconsistent’.

The group added that social distancing will remain in place during any activities in the city.

Government guidelines say people may ‘exercise outdoors as often as you wish - following social distancing guidelines’.

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