URGENT: Support Safer Cycling in Portsmouth

Portsmouth City Council motion to support City to Share: Tuesday 17 October.

Portsmouth City Council will be considering a motion to support City to Share on Tuesday at their full council meeting.  City to Share is the Portsmouth Cycle Forum document inspired by Leader of the Council Donna Jones’ challenge for us to produce a cycle strategy for the city.

We hope you also support this campaign so we can make Portsmouth a safer place for cycling for all of us now, and for future generations. We need to show how important this is an issue within the city. A properly designed and funded network of cycle routes throughout the city will help to cut congestion and pollution, improve journey times and personal health as it encourages those who believe the city is too unsafe for cycling to switch their preferred method of transport.

We’re calling for Portsmouth City Council to commit to a small percentage of the transport budget devoted to cycling infrastructure, increasing over the years to £20 per head.

The simplest way to do this is to show your councillors how much support there is. Cycling UK has produced a simple online webpage to allow you to send an email to your local councillors. This just needs some basic details about you to find your councillors.

Please follow this link.

We helped Cycling UK with the wording of the email so it has our support.  You can of course add your own words.

Pedal Portsmouth Glow Ride 2017

You can register here.

Bring your hi-vis, glow-in-the-dark accessorise and lights, and take part in our bigger and brighter Pedal Portsmouth Glow Ride on Southsea seafront on Saturday 14 October from 6.30pm – 7.30pm – registration from 5.30pm.

It’s a fun, free family event, celebrating safe night-time cycling, on a 3km traffic free route along the seafront. If you are one of the best-lit cyclists, you could win a prize.

The ride starts on Eastney Esplanade near Canoe Lake and will be open for an hour from 6.30pm – 7.30pm, allowing cyclists of all ages and abilities to enjoy cycling round the course at their own pace while lighting up the night. Make sure you sign up to be part of the spectacle!

The registration desk will be open from 5.30pm. Sign-in will be quicker if you’ve already given us your details online so register now. There will be free glow drawstring bags and goodies for participants. Bike Doctor will be there from 5.30pm so if you need your brakes tightened, saddle adjusted or a quick check over get there early.

Please remember that it is illegal to cycle on a public road after dark without lights and reflectors. Anyone without lights could be issued with a £30 fine. You can get good-quality lights and cycle gear from the council at almost cost price. Just ask at reception at the Civic Offices, Guildhall Square.

[courtesy of Portsmouth City Council]

Open Meeting – 21 September

We have our next open meeting on Thursday 21 September at the Richmond Building, University of Portsmouth.

At our last meeting in June we mourned and paid tribute to Tim Atkins. He was killed after being knocked off his bike on the Eastern Road cycle path. We have been pressing Portsmouth City Council to do something about the blind spots and pinch points for years and now our – and your – voices are being heard.

At the meeting we will hear from Cllr Simon Bosher, the city transport portfolio holder.  He will be presenting the plans for the changes to the Eastern Road.  These will be going out to consultation around the same time with a number of ‘roadshows’ taking place at the end of the month.

At our last meeting before the general election we were expecting the then MP for Portsmouth South, Flick Drummond to speak about her work in Parliament.  Now she has some free time and will be with us to talk about the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling, of which she was a member. There will be time for questions after her talk.

We start at 7pm, so please arrive 10-15 minutes earlier.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 21 September at 7.00pm in Lecture Theatre 2 of the Richmond Building of the University of Portsmouth.  We start at 7.00pm, so please arrive 10-15 minutes earlier.

PCC Cycle Surgery

As discussed at our June meeting, we have arranged a ‘surgery’ with one of the active travel and road safety team at the city council.  There is the opportunity to discuss particular issues you have with cycling in the city.  There is time for 4 slots before this meeting, and we hope to have some more in November. To make sure of your slot please find more information and booking form here.

Open Meeting Report June 2017

Following the remembrance event in Guildhall Square, approximately 70 attendees cycled to the previously arranged regular open meeting at the University of Portsmouth Richmond Building as a show of support for their fellow cyclists in the city, led by PCF ride leaders.

Just as we were about to start, the late arrival of Portsmouth South’s new MP meant a swift re-arranging of the agenda, with Stephen Morgan addressing the room in what was his first visit back to the city since taking up his seat at Westminster at the start of the week.  He had rushed back south after his swearing in earlier that day, and we were happy to be his first appointment back.

He described how as a non-driver, he cycles around the city, is only too aware of the issues that confront those on two wheels on a daily basis.  At the start of the General Election campaign he announced his support for The City to Share strategy: https://stephenjmorgan.org/2017/04/27/citys-cycling-plan-backed/

Although it is only early days of his term, he took several questions that were mostly about local issues that highlight the dangers of cycling in Portsmouth, announced his intention to join the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group and will join our open meetings as often as he is able to.

We are very grateful to him for making the effort to get back for the evening and we look forward to working with him to improve the infrastructure, safety and perception of cycling in Portsmouth.

The first of our speakers for the evening was Darren Ord, the Traffic Inspector for the Eastern region of the Hampshire and Thames Valley Joint roads operation.  He is also leading the ‘Close Pass Initiative’ which made the headlines of the Portsmouth News in April:

http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/crime/watch-undercover-police-cyclists-capture-portsmouth-drivers-overtaking-too-close-1-7906436

Darren, who is a keen cyclist himself, explained they picked up on the Close Pass initiative following the success and publicity around operations carried out in the West Midlands. It targets vehicles that passed too close to cyclists – actually policemen in a number of cyclist attires.  It was felt that car drivers who do not cycle don’t usually look out for cyclists so may not see them.

So far 4 deployments across the Eastern region since April with 36 motorists have been spoken to and educated as to how and why they need to give space for cycling.  They are keen to encourage the education aspect of the initiative, but those not wishing to take advice will be asked to attend a driver awareness course or be issued with a fine, much like those drivers caught speeding.

Asked whether the next step of this approach would be to accept videos from the public that show potential transgressions as a number of forces now do, Darren said that there were future plans to improve ‘third party reporting’ from helmet-cams which is not perfect at the moment. We hope to see this be rolled out in due course though.

Twitter users can follow @HantsPolRoads for more information and to find out what future operations are being carried out.

We then received an update from Portsmouth City Council Active Travel officers on the current and new projects that are taking place.

The new network of Quieter routes has recently been launched and these consist of 10 routes (five north / south & five east /west) across the city that aims to target those less confident cyclists to navigate their way around the city, mainly using the 20mph residential road network.

It’s not a finished product, not every 20mph road is safer than 30mph roads, but the selected routes have been casualty-checked to ensure they run along the statistically safer roads. PCC are aware that there are issues, however some of these could not be addressed with the initial funding package. The scheme has now attracted further funding that can be used to make actual infrastructure improvements.

The current year of the Local Transport Plan has funding for the following projects:

  •      A2047 – Fratton / Kingston / London Rd improvements: 12 junctions get lines and surfacing, or raised tables and surfacing
  •      Bypassing gyratory at the north end of London Rd, to route cyclists across the foot/cycle bridge over the motorway at Peronne Road
  •      Stubbington Ave and London Rd Roundabout: slow traffic down, improve sight lines by increasing carriageway deflection

As part of the question and answer session at the end of the presentations, inevitably there were questions about the recent events that highlighted the dangers of cycling in the city.  It was explained the specific incidents could not be discussed as they were currently under investigation. However as a general rule, after every fatality, there is a meeting to discuss possible improvements to the location, and once the ongoing investigation is finished, there will be a requirement to explain how and what is going to happen to ensure the situation does not happen again.

We would like to thank all our speakers for attending, especially at an emotional time for many cyclists in the city.

The PCF open meetings in the autumn take place on Thursday 21st September and Thursday 16th November at 7.00pm.  Full details will be circulated once we have them confirmed.  To ensure you receive these please sign up to our email bulletins here: http://www.pompeybug.co.uk/newsletters/

Ian Saunders

Chair, Portsmouth Cycle Forum

The Darkest Hour is Just Before the Dawn

On Thursday 15th June 2017, over 200 cyclists gathered in the Guildhall Square in Portsmouth to remember one of our own, Tim Atkins who was killed on his way home from work on a sunny, bright and dry Friday evening when he collided with another cyclist on the Eastern Road cycle path and fell into the road in front of a moving vehicle.  It was a tragic accident for which none of the parties involved were to blame.

Tim’s sister Joanna wrote some moving words, read out on her behalf describing Tim’s “larger than life personality, his huge heart and infectious laugh” asking for immediate action to be taken to make the junction safe for all.

The incident took place on one of the busiest cycle routes in the city, the main cycle path onto and out of the city on the eastern side of the island.  It has proved to be inadequate and unfit for purpose, and so as well as remembering Tim, and also Andy Reeve who was seriously injured in an accident on the Fratton Bridge Roundabout 24 hours before Tim’s accident, also on his way home in similar weather conditions, the Portsmouth Cycle Forum also called for action to be taken by Portsmouth City Council to do better to protect cyclists across the city.  To act to reduce the persistently high cycle casualties that embarrass a city in which cycling is not only highly suitable, but a necessity given congestion and pollution levels.

We know cycling can be made safe, attractive and accessible to all even in crowded cities like Portsmouth. We know that if this is done then more people will choose to get around by bike, reducing the strain on our roads and benefiting us all. This incident has to be seen as the trigger point to do much better.  It’s a line in the sand, a point of no return.

It needs political, cross-party will to commit to long-term thinking, planning and funding to embed a culture where cycling is seen as just another method to travel around a densely populated city.  To create space for cycling, a city to share and to reduce the needless casualties that occur too frequently and scare those that might be encouraged to take it up to put their bikes back into storage.

However we need the everyday cyclists of this city not to let this go as well. To hold your elected representatives and the council officers to account to make sure they deliver. To report problems. To expect and demand better. To help us to improve the city.

You can see the whole of the 17 minute event via the Portsmouth News Facebook live video on their Facebook page here.

You can sign up to receive our email bulletins here.

Ian Saunders
Chair
Portsmouth Cycle Forum

2017 Election Hustings

In case you’ve missed there’s a General Election on 8 June!  This is your chance to interview the candidates.

parliament-palace

We have arranged an election hustings meeting on Thursday 25 May.  We’ve invited all parties standing in Portsmouth North and South constituencies to attend to give a brief presentation on their parties’ policies on cycling and active travel and their personal aims to promote these should they be elected.

There will a chance to ask questions of the candidates so have some thoughtful and original questions ready!

The meeting will take place on Thursday 25 May at 7.00pm in Lecture Theatre 2 of the Richmond Building of the University of Portsmouth.

We need to make full use of the time available so please arrive for 6.45 to find a seat. Start time is 7.00pm for 2 hours.

If you are not already a member, please join us: follow this link to pay your £10 subscription.

 

Portsmouth Cycle Forum Open Meeting 27 April – POSTPONEMENT

Portsmouth Cycle Forum Open Meeting POSTPONEMENT

Apologies for the short notice. Due to the general election announcement our speaker for the meeting on Thursday 27 April has had to withdraw. We have tried to find a replacement but this was not possible in time.

However, because of the election we plan to hold a meeting in late May for party candidates to give their positions on cycling. We’ll send out a confirmation of this in the next couple of weeks.

Portsmouth Cycle Forum AGM

On the 16th March we will be holding our AGM. This meeting is only open to members, however you may join or renew on the door. The cost is a bargain £10 for the whole year. You can also join on the website here.

Once the business of officers reports and electing the new committee is over, we are intending to use the local knowledge of the members present  to create a new ‘tube map’ of Portsea’s cycle infrastructure. For background reading on ‘tube maps’ please see this article on the Cycling UK website.

Once complete, we intend to present this to Portsmouth City Council to give them some ideas on prioritising updates to the network.

One of the key purposes of the AGM is to elect a committee to govern the cycle forum’s activities. We’d love to see some new faces on our committee this year to energise our campaigning.

The following committee posts will be up for election – you can put yourself forward for one of them either by letting us know in advance by email (you can reply to this one) or by coming along and volunteering on the night.

  • Chair – the chair provides leadership to ensure the committee functions effectively.
  • Vice Chair – the vice chair supports the chair, and is an ideal role for an aspiring chair!
  • Hon Secretary – the honorary secretary is responsible for the smooth running of the forum – making sure that meetings are planned and delivered effectively. This is not an admin job – it’s about making sure the forum’s operations keep running smoothly.
  • Treasurer – keeps us solvent.
  • Membership Secretary – recruiting and keeping track of members.
  • Communications Manager – managing our communications our members and supporters via email, web, social media and media.
  • Rides and Events Manager – manage our programme of rides and our attendance at events / fayre’s and so on.
  • Committee member (up to 6) – an ‘ordinary’ (although no-one’s ordinary) member of our committee, helping to decide how the forum runs and taking a share of the actions to deliver its business.

As well as the standard business of the AGM we discuss how the cycle forum is run and the focus of our campaigns. This is YOUR chance to have a say in how the forum is run.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 16th March at 7.00pm in Lecture Theatre 2 of the Richmond Building of the University of Portsmouth.

Open Meeting – The Cycling Revolution in Leicester

We have a guest speaker from Leicester at our next open meeting on Thursday 26th January.

Jan from British Cycling will be telling us about the work they have been doing to transform the city for cycling. As the UK’s first Environment City, Leicester’s city council has plans to quadruple cycling levels by 2024.  This is being done by a number of programmes, including spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on new infrastructure.

GV of the new bike path / cycle route on Newarke Street in Leicester city centre PICTURE WILL JOHNSTON
GV of the new bike path / cycle route on Newarke Street in Leicester city centre
PICTURE WILL JOHNSTON

So could this be the reason behind Leicester City’s recent successes?!

The meeting will take place on Thursday 26 January at 7.00pm in Lecture Theatre 2 of the Richmond Building of the University of Portsmouth.

A welcome to 2017

A happy new year to our members and subscribers. So what will 2017 bring the cyclists of Portsmouth?

As a result of winning some Government funding, the new Quiet Routes that PCC have been working on since last summer should soon be released.  PCC hope that by identifying 20mph roads, a network of routes can be created that are quieter and safer for those less confident cyclists to travel around the city.  This is a welcome initiative assuming that the routes are advertised and easy to follow once on your bike.

In conjunction with this work, an audit of all the cycling infrastructure routes and facilities has been undertaken by PCC, identifying the existing lanes, paths and parking that exist in the city.  This information – together with the quiet routes initiative – will form the basis for a new Cycling map for Portsmouth.  We will be studying this in great detail to identify the gaps in provision and work to improve areas that we believe do not serve cyclists to the extent that they should.

To that end, three of our committee members are attending the Cycling UK workshop day in London in late January to learn more about the computerized cycling tools that were demonstrated to us by Roger Geffen at our open meeting in November.  Our intention is to ask our paid-up members at our AGM in March to then identify areas in Portsmouth that can be targeted for future development.

However, most of the traffic congestion is down to the sheer numbers of vehicles on the road. To make a real improvement in congestion, pollution and journey times for everyone, the city needs to get people out of their cars, and reduce the barriers that stop people using a bike to travel around.

We need to identify and push to develop the routes that commuters might like to use.  Ideally, these should be fast, consistent, road-quality cycle lanes that are segregated from both road traffic and pedestrians with priority boxes at junctions and specific phasing on the traffic light system to aid safe resumption of one’s journey. The new lane is Goldsmiths Avenue appears to already have made a difference to traffic flows in the area for both vehicles and bikes.  There’s no reason why having set a precedent there that other roads that have double yellow lining should not also be similarly marked with cycle lanes.

Copnor Road has space at the northern end to install segregated cycle lanes similar to those created recently in Brighton.  With some extra shared path they could link up to the pedestrian bridge across the A27 into the Highbury estate and onto Cosham, encouraging those to the north of the city to cycle to work in the way that the Southampton Road and Langstone Harbour paths do from the west and east.

The perception of cycling in Portsmouth is that it is dangerous, and the official figures only back this up this impression.  For the fourth year in the last five, Portsmouth ranks as the most dangerous city in the UK for cycling casualties. Ours is twice the rate of the London Borough of Waltham Forest, which has a similar population density to Portsmouth. Islington has a population density three times that of Portsmouth, and yet the cycle casualty rate is slightly lower.

The improvements in London with the installation of cycle lanes and mini-Holland schemes, the latest of which recently opened just the other end of the A3 in Portsmouth Road, Kingston-Upon Thames, proves that if the infrastructure is invested in, it is used and improves participation.  A year on from its opening, and Waltham Forest’s much opposed mini-Holland scheme has seen traffic levels in 12 key roads in the “village” area of Walthamstow fall by 56 per cent, or 10,000 fewer vehicles a day.  The most vocal business owner opponent of the scheme, has now opened up a coffee shop in his building.

These improvements are within the scope of Portsmouth City Council.  However, as the cycling community, we need to build the pressure to improve things in our favour.  Imagine Mini-Holland schemes during business hours around Cosham High Street, Albert Road or Palmerston Road – the latterly is effectively already installed – making the areas more pleasant to negotiate whether on foot, public transport or bike.

The re-development of the island’s flood defences over the next decade gives us the opportunity to create a true coastline leisure cycle trail to allow exploration of areas visitors may never discover.

Work on the western side next to Hilsea Lake from the Mounbatten Centre to Portsbridge Roundabout will start this spring, necessitating the closure of the much-used shared coastal path.  Work is due to take three years, and there are plans to install a temporary cycle lane along Northern Parade.  We are asking the council whether they are aware just how well used that path is.  Not everyone will be confident enough to rode on a busy road, and so this appears to be an ideal opportunity to trial a segregated route on what is one of the wider roads on the island. And if it proves to be popular, why should it not remain installed after the work adding to the cycle infrastructure in the city?

With no local elections in the city due in 2017, the pull of the ballot box to appeal to voters has disappeared and some experimental schemes could be trialed, monitored and evaluated to see whether they work. Who knows, perhaps they may even lead to a reduction in the casualty figures?

But we can only do so much as a committee of volunteers.  As much as we lobby, badger, cajole and complain at councilors and officers, we need help to keep the issues at the forefront of their minds in every transport and planning decision they take.

And it is with the creation of that bigger voice where you, the regular cyclist comes in.  We need your support.  We’d like you engaged in the process.

Bring to the attention of the council officers poor road surfaces or junctions that endanger cyclists.  Enlist the support and lobby your ward councilors directly to improve our facilities and infrastructure.

In the event of an accident, ensure it is reported to the police, as official casualty figures are an important way to maintain the pressure on the local politicians to develop space for cycling.

Encourage the next generation getting on their bikes wanting to emulate Mark Cavendish or Lizzie Armitstead to use the roads safely and confidently, to be seen, and to respect other road users and pedestrians.

And please consider supporting or becoming a member of Portsmouth Cycle Forum.

I look forward to seeing you at one, or more, of our 2017 events or out on the road enjoying the freedom cycling can give you.

Tailwinds to all….

 

Ian Saunders

Acting Chair, PCF

January 2017

Boxing Day Bike Ride

After all the bingeing on turkey and telly, what better excuse for getting away from the family for a few hours! We take the scenic route around Portsea Island, staying as close to the water line as we can. Meet in Guildhall Square, 10.30 on Monday 26 Dec. If there are any cafes/snack bars open, we’ll pop in for a bite/drink. Some rough surfaces, but fine for most bikes.boxing day
Read more at https://www.goskyride.com/Search/Details?eventid=90048#uGSewMWbXCuVEsOQ.99

Open Meeting – Making Space for Cycling (UK)

Our next open meeting will take place at 7pm on Thursday 17th November.  The venue will once again be LT2 in Richmond Building at the University of Portsmouth. We’ll be joined by Roger Geffen MBE, Policy Director of Cycling UK. Many of you may remember Roger, who last joined us in January 2014 to talk to us about CTC’s national campaigns. CTC has since transformed the more campaign focussed Cycling UK.

Cycling UK is preparing for a second phase of its national Space for Cycling campaign, in partnership with local campaign groups.  It aims to create better places for everyone, by enabling people of all ages and abilities to cycle for any local journey.  As well as enabling members of the public to call on councils to commit to planning high-quality cycle networks – and to finding the funding these will require – we are also creating a Space for Cycling toolkit.  This will support local campaign groups and councils to work constructively together on planning local cycle networks and prioritising schemes, using a suite of IT tools and crowd-sourced data. This will strengthen the hand of local campaigners – as local authorities seek their support for their funding proposals – while boosting their credibility, their visibility in the local media, and their supporter base.

This should be a really interesting meeting and a great chance for us to engage with Cycling UK’s national campaigns and to use them locally to help us make cycling work for Portsmouth. Put the date in your diaries.

October 2016 – what a month!

Our interim Chair, Ian Saunders writes: as October comes to a close, it’s been quite a month for the cyclist in Portsmouth.

On the positive side of the equation we had a successful Pedal Portsmouth Glow ride last weekend on the closed roads along the seafront while the Great South Run was using the space. The Petersfield to Queen Elizabeth Country Park cycle track has finally been completed, and Ned Boulting’s one man show ‘Bikeology’ came to the New Theatre Royal to discover his thoughts on cycling culture and cyclists and experiences of the Tour De France over the last 15 years he has worked on it.

There has also been some new infrastructure ‘installed’ along the east bound Havant Road, although depending on who you speak to and their previous experiences, the addition of paint is either a positive or a negative in terms of giving space and creating awareness of cycling. And that’s just the cyclists!

However it is all overshadowed by the release of the cycling casualty figures for the UK, and Portsmouth’s place at the top of table of the worst cities to for cycle safety. Jon Spencer has outlined the salient points on our website here and although the figure of 888 per million of population is down from 2014, it is not coming down fast enough. Therefore we are now writing all PCC councilors and the city’s MPs to get them to commit to halving the accident rate by 2020 as was outlined in our City to Share strategy presented to them two years ago.

Amongst the recent news stories about cycle casualties, traffic congestion, and new infrastructure being planned and installed, we’ve seen comments from the Council Leader and her head of Traffic and transport, but not the cabinet post holder for the department. Six months into his tenure, we are yet to hear publically of Councillor Fleming’s plans on how to combat congestion and pollution in the city, other than increasing the fees for the third parking permit at an address.

A good place to start might be our next Open Meeting on Thursday 17th November, and he would also be able to hear Cycling UK’s Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen MBE talk about the second phase of their national Space for Cycling Campaign which will call on councils to commit to planning high-quality cycle networks, and to finding the funding these will require. Perhaps then we can start to reduce the unnecessary accidents on our roads.

And related to that final point, the clocks go back this weekend (October 29th), so the mornings and evenings will be darker and he days will (probably) be duller and greyer as we arrive in winter. Please ensure that you use your lights while cycling and ensure you are seen.

Ride Round Gosport

Only minutes away on the ferry, but you can find some lovely quiet lanes and great views across the harbour.  Flat, mostly quiet roads and cycle tracks.  Meet 10am at Gosport ferry, The Hard.  Ferry with bike £4.60 return.  We will have a couple of stops – including a cafe stop – bring snacks and drinks to keep you going!
Gosport ferry 2

Cycle Casualties 2015

The Department for Transport has recently released road safety statistics for 2015 and once again Portsmouth is shamed by the rate at which cyclists are hurt on our roads. We have the worst rate of cycle casualties of any city in England. A few London boroughs do have a worse casualty rate but taken as a whole London is safer than Portsmouth. Portsmouth also topped this unenviable league in 2014, 2012 and 2011.

Portsmouth’s cycle casualty rate for 2015 was 888 per million of population. This is very slightly better that the 2014 figure, but this is likely to be no more than a statistical blip. The city’s leaders have taken no concerted action to address road safety, despite our exhortations, preferring to wring their hands and claim there is little they can do because Portsmouth is such a crowded city.

This excuse does not stand up to close examination. England’s most densely populated area, Islington, is nearly three times as crowded as Portsmouth. Islington has a population density of 14,517 people per square kilometre compared to 5,141 in Portsmouth and yet the cyclist casualty rate is slightly lower in Islington with a rate of 882 compared to 888 in Portsmouth.

Waltham Forest, which has recently implemented a ‘mini-Holland’ scheme of cycle infrastructure improvements has a population density of 6,849 people per square kilometre. This is a third more than Portsmouth and yet the cyclist casualty rate is only 409, less than half the rate in Portsmouth. This goes to show what can be achieved with good infrastructure, even in densely populated areas.

It’s time our leaders recognised that this is happening on their watch and it is their problem to solve. It is not a dry statistic to be regretted and ignored, these are the residents of our city being hurt (or worse). Each of these casualties represents a day, week, month or even lifetime ruined or lost. Even minor accidents can have a huge effect on the victims, as the case studies at the end of this piece show.

It is past time to start taking cycle safety seriously. The city is gridlocked and desperately needs people to get out of their cars, but people are understandably put off by the danger on our streets.

For too long Portsmouth City Council has been putting in a token effort at cycle safety. That has to change. We are calling on councillors to commit to halving the cycle casualty rate by 2020. Their first step has to be proper funding for road safety and to recruit a world-class traffic engineer with expertise in cycling infrastructure to lead on it.

It is the first responsibility of government in a democratic society to protect and safeguard the lives of its citizens. Cyclists are citizens and the government of our city is currently failing us. Now is the time to act. It’s time to lift the city from it’s humiliating position as the most dangerous city for cyclists in the UK.

Read Simon’s story
Read John’s story

Sources

ONS Population Density Map
DfT Accident Statistics for 2015 (Table RAS 30045)

Gridlocked Again

Just over two years, in response to the city being plunged into gridlock by a lorry fire, we wrote an open letter to all councillors asking them to take action to prevent this from happening again. This is the event that triggered the leader of PCC, Cllr Donna Jones, to challenge us to come up with an alternative transport plan for the city. Our response was A City to Share, a strategy prioritising Active Travel to reduce the level of traffic on our roads.

This weekend, with the partial closure of the Eastern Rd bridge for maintenance, we were gridlocked once again and more of the same is scheduled for next weekend. Portsmouth’s road system operates at the limit of its capacity. It only takes a small event to tip the system into gridlock – that is what happened two years ago, that’s what happened this weekend and that is what is likely to happen next weekend.

So what has been done in those two years, and why are we still facing this same problem? We’ve certainly had no shortage of words of support – politicians of all hues put their names behind A City to Share when it came out. But what action have we had? Well there have been some positive changes, but too few to make a significant difference so far, and we’ve had some backward steps too.

On the plus side parking is being removed from Goldsmith Avenue and a new cycle lane added on the north side. This is an important step – using busy routes like goldsmith avenue for the storage of stationary vehicles narrows the road and causes conflict. This makes a dangerous and intimidating environment for cyclists. It would be great to see similar changes on other narrow A and B roads in the city, it would enable the creation of safe, direct and attractive cycle lanes that could really tempt people out of their cars.

We’ve also had a series of Sky Rides as well as some major cycle events. Great as these events are, though, they are unlikely to get more people to choose cycling as a way of getting around until we make the streets more pleasant to cycle on.

However, we’ve also had some backward steps, like the removal of the Mile End Rd bus lane and Portsmouth is still congested. Portsmouth still has an obesity problem. Portsmouth still has dangerously polluted air. The way to tackle all these issues is to reduce people’s dependence on private cars yet our politicians are still doing too little to achieve this.

We can only repeat our plea of 2014: “We are calling on you to act now. Plans need to be made now to fix our transport system. Portsmouth needs a plan to put sustainable transport at the heart of these plans and to come up with a joined-up strategy for sustainable transport. Portsmouth Cycle Forum is eager to work with councillors to improve travel in Portsmouth and support sustainable growth.”

We came good on our promise to work hard, delivering a sustainable transport strategy for free. Now it’s time for our politicians to really start delivering on their side of the deal.

Open Meeting – Thursday 22nd September

We have an open meeting on Thursday. We’ll be discussing the new Solent Deal to devolve transport and other powers from central government to a new Solent Authority. It’ll have money to spend and we want to make sure some it goes into cycling! We’ll also be talking about our Pompey Pothole project to record poor roads and updating you on what has happens since our last meeting. The meeting is at the university Richmond building off Queen St, starting 7pm.

Solent Deal – an environmentalist’s perspective

At the invitation of Clare Seek (Portsmouth Green Drinks coordinator), John Holland attended a meeting organised by environmental campaigners in Southampton with the purpose of getting more info on the Solent Deal and to discuss the implications for this on the environment, and talk about how they might like to respond to the consultation from that perspective.

Simon Letts (leader of Southampton City Council) gave a the history on devolution of power in the UK, and then some background into how we have arrived with current proposals to devolve certain powers from central Government to the combined authority encompassing Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

It would seem that, despite the mask of negotiation and public consultation, the Solent authorities will be offered an “off the peg” deal – much the same as is being offered to other applicants.
Hampshire County Council is not a partner to the deal; instead they are promoting an alternative structure. The non-unitary authorities (Havant, Fareham, Eastleigh, East Hants) are not partners either at this time since they are not eligible to join (yet).

On transport there is enthusiasm to introduce London-style bus franchising to reintroduce some kind of coordination between the bus operators plus the building of a Light Rapid Transit network linking the key centres. Cycling, walking and cycling, alas, receive very little (if any) focus.

The authorities have a very strong focus on economic growth and we feel this sells our region short. For example there is no mention of having a happy healthy people, along with clean soil, water and air. The Local Enterprise Partnership has a seat at the decision table, and that is a pretty undemocratic body. And a small point is that the document doesn’t allow for anyway in which the mayor can be removed during their 4 year term, which seems to be a strange omission.

Seafront Cycleway Survey

 

A message from one of our members:

I am an MSc student at the University of Portsmouth.  I would be grateful if you could take the time to complete this survey which is part of my dissertation.  The aim is to find out how effective the seafront cycleway east of South Parade Pier is in encouraging cycling, and how it would affect users if it was not there.

The survey should not take more than 10 minutes.  I would be grateful if you could pass it on to anyone else who might be interested.

Thanks, Roger Inkpen

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSesCOdeWo_W6hOrLzGKyKCG-fS_y-Z_gAX1Cp3IHfCnP5CTbA/viewform

The Website for the Portsmouth Cycle Forum