Activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR) Kingston staged a "critical mass" bike ride protest through the town yesterday (August 14).

More than 20 protestors from the Kingston branch of the renowned environmental campaign group took to their bikes for the demo.

They were seeking to raise awareness about the escalating climate crisis in the UK and across the world.

Surrey Comet: Image: Charlotte HaighImage: Charlotte Haigh

Critical mass bike rides have been staged by XR activists before.

They generally involve participants cycling in a broad line to slow traffic down on a chosen route, while raising awareness about climate breakdown with banners, slogans and discussions.

One of the organisers of Wednesday's protest, Charlotte Haigh, spoke with the Comet about the event.

"The weather was horrible all day but during the two hours when we did the bike ride the sun actually came out — we were really lucky!

"We didn't block the road. we slowed traffic down, probably less than a bad traffic jam during rush hour.

"We had loud music, whistles and bells to get people's attention and that after all the main thing we wanted to do is to raise awareness about the climate crisis," Ms Haigh said.

"It was a very good natured ride, it was fun too, there's a real emphasis on that," she added.

The XR Kingston activist, who also chairs the Guild of Health Writers, joined XR just before the London occupation events in April that made global headlines earlier this year and prompted the government to declare a climate emergency — one of the group's key demands.

Ms Haigh said that while some members of the public in Kingston had expressed frustration at being disrupted, most were enthusiastic.

"We had some people who got impatient at being stuck behind us but they were in the minority.

"We had lots of support from pedestrians giving thumbs up and waving, and some cheerful honks from drivers too.

"Some people who noticed the XR flag on my bike even stopped me and said 'oh, are you from Extinction Rebellion? That's brilliant, go for it'...there was a lot of encouragement," she said.

The actions of Ms Haigh and her fellow protestors on Thursday were motivated by the acute concern increasing numbers of people around the world are feeling regarding the climate crisis.

The latest scientific studies, such as one published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently, suggest that human beings have only 11 years to take action on climate breakdown and prevent uncontrollable heating of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans.

They also anticipate widespread societal disruption and potential collapse if carbon emissions are not drastically reduced around the world.

Surrey Comet: Image: Charlotte HaighImage: Charlotte Haigh

"I was desperately worried about the climate, the crisis we're in and the impacts it's going to have in ours and our children's lifetimes," Ms Haigh said, describing why she took part.

"It isn't just about the polar bears floating around on a melting block of ice, very sad though that is. It's about mass migration, food shortages, social breakdown.

"It's not scaremongering. That's very likely to happen if we don't see some very quick changes," she added.

"We don't want to upset people, we want them to support us and we had plans in place to move out of the way of any emergency vehicles.

"But at the same time this is really urgent, it's an emergency now and we have to make our point," she said.