Protesters ask for patience

EXTINCTION Rebellion protesters are asking drivers to be patient on Monday morning as a pack of up to 70 cyclists are due to take to one of Jersey’s busiest routes.

The group, whose members are calling for action on climate change, are expected to set off from St Brelade’s Parish Hall at 7.45am before making their way east to Bel Royal, along both lanes of the eastbound carriageway of Victoria Avenue and into town. They are now warning that action could eventually become a regular event.

Milly Tipping, a spokeswoman for Extinction Rebellion Jersey, said that the planned demonstration seemed the most effective way to get the group’s message across.

‘It is the best way that we can think of to raise awareness at the moment but we are open to suggestions,’ she said.

‘We are trying to get the message across that cycling is much more efficient, it can save you time and – at the same time – you can help save the world.

‘I would say to drivers, please be patient. We are sorry for any disruption and I am sure that there will be some people who will not be pleased by this but it is part of a much bigger picture that is going on and we are trying to save humanity from extinction.’

On Thursday, Extinction Rebellion protesters in the UK climbed on top of London Underground trains during the morning rush hour at a station in Canning Town in the east of the capital – provoking an angry response from commuters.

Ms Tipping said that bus users were unlikely to encounter any additional delay to their journeys.

‘The bus routes only run to Bel Royal before cutting onto the Inner Road and there will be traffic all the way up to there anyway so the delays will only be a matter of minutes to buses – if there are any at all,’ she said. ‘Once we get onto Victoria Avenue, we will be riding in both lanes [of the eastbound carriageway] but we are only allowed to ride two abreast so there will be two single lines of us.

‘If this event is successful, we could make it a more regular thing – perhaps once a month – but we are only planning to do one more during the winter.’

She added: ‘We will need to stop at all the traffic lights when we are going – whether they are green or red – to ensure that the group all stays together so there could be extra delays there. But I only expect it to take an extra ten minutes for car drivers to get into town and I hope lots of people see us.

‘There is no final figure but we expect there to be a minimum of 30 and a maximum of 70 but we are prepared to take even more people and everyone is welcome.’

Meanwhile, Environment Minister John Young said that causing disruption could be necessary to force some people to take notice of the climate-change issue.

‘What I suppose the protesters are thinking is that they are trying to communicate with people who do not have climate change on their agenda. I do not think causing disruption is necessarily a good thing but I am not going to criticise them because they are raising awareness of the issue,’ he said.

‘There could be other ways – I do not know. But one thing that is clear is that we need education, we have got to get the message into people.

‘The young people seem to have got it whereas, not me, but my generation need some persuasion.’

Deputy Young also said he thought a large proportion of the Island’s carbon emissions were generated by fossil-fuelled vehicles and encouraged Islanders to take heed of the advance warning regarding the disruption and to try cycling or taking the bus to work on Monday instead of driving.

‘There are significant changes that are required and it is an open secret that the major issue locally is vehicle emissions which contribute around 50% of our carbon emissions, while heating for our homes and businesses contributes around 30%,’ he said.

‘The traffic will already be blocked up from St Aubin to Beaumont by around 7.15am so they will not be able to block anything there.

‘Our bus service needs improving and more buses need to be put on – maybe Libertybus could put on more buses on Monday for people. I would also encourage more people to try walking.’

Meanwhile, LibertyBus has recommended that Islanders leave their cars at home and catch the bus instead to reduce the volume of traffic on the roads.

A spokeswoman said: ‘An ideal situation would be for police and protestors to let buses through and not disrupt our service, therefore encouraging Islanders to use the bus as a quicker, more efficient and environmentally friendly method of transportation.

‘If they agreed to let the buses through we would look into putting on more services on Monday morning to cope with demand.’

The States police declined to say whether they would call in extra officers for the protest.

Following the announcement of the disruption, a number of readers took to the JEP Facebook page to share their thoughts and nearly 400 comments were posted.

Ronnie Le Monnier: ‘So as they ride slowly, rush hour traffic slows right down so the cars release more fumes into the atmosphere – great thinking. I pray that Monday morning it pours down with rain.’

Claire Kelly: ‘Excellent! More people need to start cycling here – the roads are at gridlock anyway. Once you start you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it years ago. Exercise, no hold-ups, no parking nightmare, free and a dose of sea spray every morning. We just need some decent cycle paths through town now.’

Andrew John Le Marquand: ‘I will be going to work in my van with 2.5 tonnes of tools to carry out my tasks for the day. I am not sure I could get it all on a bike.’

Jayne LM: ‘Police recommend that commuters use alternative routes which means those routes will become log-jams, which means more cars idling for longer, belching out more pollutants. Nice one.’

Danny Smith: ‘Here is an idea – instead of moaning about the inconvenience, how about get your bike out and join the ride, see what the whole thing is about? Burn fat not fuel.’

Matthew Muttock: ‘Good. It is about time people woke up to the ever-growing vehicle addiction over here and why not start sharing lifts, cycling or getting a bus instead of adding to the carbon footprint.’

Jim Pattison: ‘Laws against causing an obstruction and riding more than two abreast only when road conditions allow. Do something about it, that’s what police are paid for, to uphold the law.’

Sean Oz: ‘How to lose any public sympathy... AND it will cause more pollution due to vehicles being stuck in traffic... explain how that is good for the planet?’

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