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Cambridge groups protest King’s Parade anti-terror barrier




King’s Parade anti-terror barrier will be in use from Monday. Picture: Camcycle
King’s Parade anti-terror barrier will be in use from Monday. Picture: Camcycle

Cambridge cycle organisation Camcycle has been joined by the Cambridge Schools Eco Council in objecting to the anti-terrorist barrier on King’s Parade – which will block the world-famous landmark from traffic between 9.30am and 7pm starting tomorrow (January 13).

The design leaves just a 1.2 metre gap for cyclists travelling in both directions – meaning cargo bikes won’t be able to get through. The design also means that pedestrians will share cramped space with cyclists.

The cycling campaign group says: “We objected to this design and to the lack of consultation with the public and councillors, however, the installation has gone ahead.”

Ironically, the group has concerns about safety when the scheme – which is set to be trialled for several months – goes ahead, stating that “people could be injured as a result of being squeezed into such inadequate spaces”.

“There will be a lot of conflict from next Monday when the gate is closed in the day time,” said a Camcycle spokesperson. “What’s more, the cycle gap is right against the kerb, with cobbles and a gutter on half its width.”

The group’s complaint relates “not to the principle of removing the danger from motorised traffic, but to the proposed design”, which includes security ‘barges’installed on the pavement, further obstructing pedestrian space. The organisation is demanding that “at least two wider cycle gaps are provided” and adds that “to add insult to injury, it seems that half the funding has come from the Greater Cambridge Partnership, whose mission is to encourage sustainable transport modes like cycling, not to obstruct them”.

The statement concludes: “It seems all too obvious that all the barriers will do is to create exactly the kind of crowds that a terrorist would want to drive into, especially as the Corpus clock– the Chronophage – which already leads to large groups standing in the middle of the road, is outside the closed zone. And if one was dead-set on attacking right in that iconic location in front of King’s Chapel one would just have to wait until 7pm.”

Rally on King’s Parade - will anti-terror barrier mean the end of lawful protest along the iconic street? Picture: Keith Heppell
Rally on King’s Parade - will anti-terror barrier mean the end of lawful protest along the iconic street? Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridge Schools Eco Council voted to support Camcycle’s objection at a lively meeting in the Michaelhouse Centre yesterday (January 11). The climate change group’s monthly meeting concluded: “At a time when the threats of the climate crisis are greater than ever before, we believe it is vital we encourage people to cycle more, not make it harder for them to do so.”

The school strikers also raised concerns about the right to protest given that King’s Parade will be transformed into what will effectively become a no-go area for protesters.

The organisation said: “There is the worrying concern about democracy. Youth Strikes For Climate and other worthy causes use the main thoroughfare of the city at King’s Parade to have a highly visible event. This is our democratic right and essential for all Cambridge campaigns. The proposed barrier will seriously risk the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and protestors as we vie for safe passage through.”

Other topics discussed in the meeting included issuing a statement on the bush fires in Australia, further protests about the dangerously low water levels in the chalk streams around Cambridge, and how to mark the group’s first anniversary.

One of those listening to the protesters talk at Michaelhouse Centre was Charlie Baker.

“These guys are actually getting stuff done,” he said afterwards. “In 30 minutes they’ve done more in terms of mobilisation than I’ve done in my entire life. They’re really bright people – on that trajectory they're going to be the people that make a difference.”

The next march will focus on the water crisis facing the Cam Valley.

Anyone wishing to comment on the anti-terrorist barriers can email john.richards@cambridge.gov.uk of the Public Realm Engineering & Project Delivery team.

Cambridge Schools Eco Council meeting at Michaelhouse Centre on January 11, 2020. Picture: Mike Scialom
Cambridge Schools Eco Council meeting at Michaelhouse Centre on January 11, 2020. Picture: Mike Scialom


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