Seafront Defences Planning Application

The planning application for the whole of the seafront sea defences was submitted in late July with responses due by 6 September, and in the next few weeks it will be considered by the city council planning committee. We’ve been involved with some of the consultation and we’d like to see what’s best for cyclists, without adversely affecting other users of the seafront.

Although we recognise the need to improve our sea defences we are disappointed that the designers have not committed to a genuinely safe cycle route along the seafront. Portsmouth City Council’s Seafront Masterplan envisages a continuous cycle route from Gosport ferry to Hayling ferry. The coastal defences do not cover this length in full, but where they do, we expect them to provide a route fit for purpose.

The plans show some very modest improvements on what we have today, but some of their plans make cycling more hazardous, or less enjoyable, with little separation of bikes and cars. They have also failed to do anything about the existing problem faced by cyclists of having to switch sides at several points along the seafront. You can read our response in full below:

PCF response 1901097FUL.

John Holland Memorial Day

John Holland Memorial Day: Saturday 29th June 2019

Anyone who knew John knows that he was involved with numerous projects in and around Portsmouth. To celebrate his life, his contributions to the people of our city, and to express how fond of John his many friends were, a group of them have come together to organise a day of remembrance in his honour on the afternoon and evening of 29th June 2019.

If you want to join us in celebrating and remembering John and the wonderful legacy he has left us, you are most welcome to dip in and out through the day, or follow events from start to finish. Please read on for advance details of the events, booking requirements, fundraising activities, and loads of cake! (More info will follow nearer the day.)

Stacey Centre Community Orchard (with Mens’ Shed and The Community Cycle Centre)

o Tree planting and dedication
o Arrive from 2pm for 2.30pm dedication
o Stacey Centre, Walsall Road, Copnor, PO3 6DN
o No need to book

Bike ride and cake stop – led by Portsmouth Cycle Forum

o Leisurely ride from Stacey Centre to No.6 Cinema with cake stop
o Arrive 3pm for 3.30pm departure
o Courtyard Café (at Southsea Castle, for around 4.15pm)
o Arrive at No.6 cinema for around 6pm. Secure bicycle parking.
o Booking essential: Go to Eventbrite.com and search “John Holland Memorial Bike Ride”

No6 Cinema, 6 PM:

o Tea and Cake,
o Unveiling of a memorial plaque and,
o Screening of Moonrise Kingdom (12A), one of John’s favourite films.
o Tickets: £10 each (incl. tea and cake) only available online at www.no6cinema.co.uk/.
o All profits will be divided between the Rowans Hospice and the Lymphoma Research Trust.

If you know anyone who would like to come – here’s a handy poster to download and share with them:

John’s memorial day poster-PCF_CCC

Who will you be voting for?

It’s election time (again). 3 out of every 4 years Portsmouth holds local elections and so, 3 out of 4 years we hold a hustings event to find out what each of the parties plans to do to tackle safety for people on bikes in our City.

This year we teamed up with Portsmouth Friends of the Earth to broaden our challenge to candidates; asking not only “what will they do for cycling” but, knowing that our City is breaching air pollution levels, what will they do to improve air quality? For us, these two go hand in hand – but what did the candidates think?

Just to set the scene, let’s remember that of over 205,000 residents;  one third travel car-free, the level of cycling is much higher than the national average, everywhere in the City is within a 6 mile (or 30-45 minute) cycle and short commuter distances compared with the rest of the South East: 62% are under 5km. There are five train stations, three ferries, a hovercraft, and two bus companies, and 126,500 cars and one of the worst levels of air pollution in the country.

Representatives from the Lib Dems, Labour, UKIP, Conservatives and Greens were in attendance, along with a newcomer from the National Health Action Party. Each had 15 minutes to set out what they would do to answer our call. And, with a few exceptions, the answers were surprisingly similar.

Most of the candidates recognised the “Climate Emergency” motion recently declared at Cabinetpledging to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, but it is clear that if we stick with the status quo, the target will be missed. Portsmouth politics is on a knife edge, with relatively few votes deciding the leading party of the day. These discourages the bold politics that is needed to achieve this goal and clean up our air and our streets. They won’t get there quickly enough if they don’t pull together.

There are two examples of where more collaborative working across parties has led to some promising results. Compared to a few years ago, there now seems to be cross party agreement that there are too many cars in the City. This might sound glaringly obvious, but it’s taken a long time to get to this point. Cllr Lynne Stagg (the current Traffic and Transportation post holder) echoed the ex Mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa (renowned for introducing bus rapid transit and bike lanes in his City) in stating that no one has a right to a parking space. She also flagged a news article from the 1960s crying out that something must be done about the traffic. At that point there were 10,000 cars in the city. Now there are 126,500. All of the parties agreed that residents parking zones, in some form or another, should be used to limit and reduce parking levels, from a roll out of the existing scheme at one end of the scale, to whole car-free zones at the other. However, be afraid of proposals for using private car parks to supplement on street parking overnight – the only thing holding back even higher car use levels is surely the limited supply of parking spaces!

The parties also agreed that low emission vehicles (battery or hydrogen) were part of the solution. Some relied on them more than others, with the Green Party in particular recognising that air pollution from cars isn’t only tailpipe fumes but brake dust which might actually be worse with heavier electric vehicles. The Conservatives started on-street electric vehicle charging and the current incumbents have continued the roll-out.

To make the changes that are needed, long term planning (at least 20 years) is necessary. And with our short electoral cycles, cross party agreement on the means of getting there is essential. Without it, anyone bold enough to raise their head above the parapet with the types of policies that are needed could get voted out, and we’ll be back to square one. And let’s be clear, these policies focus on massively reducing our dependency on cars for all but essential use.

So, what other ideas did the parties have?

On buses, several parties discussed cleaner technology, including a solar bus station at Tipner (Lib Dems); subsidised services (against years of cuts), addressing pricing, and public ownership of bus services.

On electric charging, most parties said they would continue with on-street charging to encourage uptake of private electric vehicles.

On infrastructure, there was far too little mentioned. Some of the parties recognised our “A City to Share” document and spoke of the need for segregated cycle facilities and the benefits of bike hire schemes.

The Greens went the furthest, saying that they’d use the planning system fix the “mess”, bring in a tax on workplace parking and secure cycle storage and scrap the City Centre Road which in its current state would make cycling in and out of the city worse than it already is; and encourage even more people to drive into the city.

The Lib Dems said they’d grow Park and Ride and continue to look for a new location to serve the east of the City. But there was no mention of the mass overhaul in walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure that would be needed to help us kick the car habit in the timescale that’s required. Cllr Stagg also spoke about the recent “cough cough, engine off” publicity campaign and pester power as a means of encouraging better driver behaviour – but there is limited evidence that such schemes make an impact.

Labour said they’d reduce traffic coming into the city and make park and ride use compulsory on match days. The Conservatives echoed proposals for segregated cycle facilities and said they’d deliver the infrastructure to give people choice – and this is the rub – if people can choose to use their cars at a lower cost to themselves than taking public transport, or more conveniently compared to walking or cycling – why would they switch? The car “choice” has to be made less attractive. As Veronica Wagner from the National Health Action Party stated – we should be planning for people not cars.

Overall, all of the parties had some good suggestions, many of which overlapped, and many of which would be controversial to car dependant voters who currently have little option for travelling more sustainably due to limited public transport services and scary cycle facilities. What’s needed is a major investment; bigger, longer term plans, and crucially, cross party working, without it, it’s clear that more people will suffer ill health as a result of poor air quality, and we will not meet the Climate Emergency deadline of 2030, never mind the DEFRA air quality compliance deadline of 2021. So – a call to action. We’ve worked with all the parties in power over at least the last ten years, can they commit to cross party working for at least the next ten years? Can they agree to state openly that this City cannot take any more cars, and must provide better infrastructure for other modes? Can they do what is needed to give us our City to Share?

 

SOURCES
2011 Census (via nomisweb, Office for National Statistics)

https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/documents-external/trv-localsustainabletransportfund-pcc-bid.pdf

https://greenpompey.org.uk/let-pompey-breathe/

 

A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.”   Gustavo Petro, former Mayor of Bogotá, Columbia

 

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/879556-a-developed-country-is-not-a-place-where-the-poor

 

Seafront cycling – action needed now, now, now!

Just like the buses, there are no plans for ages, and then two come along at once.

Both the Southsea Coastal Scheme, and a new Seafront Strategy are currently out for consultation. Both require the immediate attention of cyclists.

These two documents offer a once (or twice) in a lifetime opportunity to improve our seafront and make it easier and safer for people walking and cycling to enjoy it for decades to come. Full details of both documents and how to respond are below, but in brief:

  • The first consultation is for the Southsea Coastal Scheme – that means the new flood defences. This consultation is effectively driving a planning application for the new landscaping along the length of Southsea seafront. The sea defences will define the space in which cycle provision has to exist, so it’s important we respond. The document does present road layouts which have been used for planning and design purposes – we understand that these layouts are not set in stone but they could present a ‘default’ so please consider how you think they work and feed back your comments.
  • The second is the seafront masterplan, which will set out how the Council plans to use all that new space. This document is of vital importance for cyclists, pedestrians, children and families and anyone who wishes to enjoy a clean, safe seafront.

This article sets out the difference between the two plans and how you can contribute your views. It’s vital that as many cyclists as possible make themselves heard.

Southsea Coastal Scheme

Who’s behind it? Portsmouth City Council, through the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership (ESCP)

Who is that then? The ESCP is a partnership of Local Authorities along the Eastern Solent area (including Portsmouth) and is made up of a small team of specialist coastal officers and engineers. Their aim is to protect us from coastal flooding. Quite sensible given the future projections for flooding of our island city.

What is the scheme? The scheme covers flood defences for Southsea Seafront. The ESCP has Central Government funding to deliver the defences. The project will change the look and operation of the seafront from Long Curtain Moat to Canoe Lake and the Rose Gardens.

What stage is the scheme at? This is the pre-planning consultation. There have already been two previous consultations at different stages over the last few years to gather views and priorities and preferences on a number of different options. The ESCP has sifted through all this feedback and now has one proposed scheme. They are getting final feedback to make tweaks before submitting a formal Planning Application to Portsmouth City Council.

Why is it relevant to cycling? Well….

Back in the late 2000s a segregated cycle lane was installed at the Eastney end of the seafront. This was contrary to the Council’s own consultation which showed overwhelming support for permitting cycling on the promenade. Everyone agrees that this scheme was a compromise.

The cycle lane was also meant to extend much further west to protect people riding bikes from cars as drivers reverse out of parking spaces to join the carriageway. But it didn’t happen.

PCF have pushed and pushed for improvements in this area and have always been told by the Council to hold tight and wait for the Coastal Defences scheme; that would be the opportunity to make the changes everyone wanted to see.

And now it’s here, and we’re not overly happy with what is proposed. The scheme (which you can see here) is still, by all definitions, a compromise.

  • At Long Curtain Moat, it’s not clear if cycling will be permitted in pedestrian areas
  • There are no improvements on Pier Road
  • There is no cycling provision at all in front of Southsea Common
  • Cycling could be allowed on the promenade by Southsea Castle and the Pyramids, although  it’s outside of the scope of the scheme to change the necessary by-laws to permit this so this won’t happen automatically
  • Cycling is shown as back on the road by South Parade Pier and Canoe Lake on the northern side, away from the sea
    There are no proposals to change the existing seafront cycle lane at the Eastney end
  • We should add that the document does not make any concrete statements on cycling at all, instead terms like “could” and “possibility” are used throughout which doesn’t give us a clear position on the proposals.

Whilst we appreciate the amount of work has gone into these proposals, it still feels very woolly. The ESCP’s consultations have shown clear support for improving walking and cycling, with respondents ranking those priorities much higher than providing for car parking – whilst we are pleased to see that, the plans do not reflect this for example, whilst there is no cycle provision on Pier Road or by the Common, there is plenty of car parking.

Public responses from 2014 show pedestrian and cycle access should be the top priorities.
Public responses from 2014 show pedestrian and cycle access should be the top priorities.

So, what’s next? We (PCF, and you individually) must respond to this consultation and, crucially, contact your local councillor to tell them your view. The deadline is FRIDAY 22ND FEBRUARY. We’ll be using our Facebook Group to ask PCF members for their views over the next week before forming a full PCF response for our 400+ members, but the more councillors hear from cyclists, the more likely we’ll see improvements. So please send your own response too – you can find out who your councillor is here. Here are some points you might like to include:

  • Clarity on what the proposals will actually do for cycling provision
  • Providing a continuous, coherent and safe cycle route that could be used by families with young children
  • Making any on-road provision safe by keeping cycling away from car doors and reversing drivers
  • Keeping traffic speeds low

Full information about the scheme is online at southseacoastalscheme.org.uk. You can email your response to [email protected] and [email protected].

There is also an online survey which you can complete here, although that doesn’t capture much information so we strongly recommend you also email your comments.

Southsea Masterplan Review

Who’s behind it? Portsmouth City Council

What is it? It’s a review of the existing Seafront Masterplan Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) which is a document to help developers understand what kind of development would be supported along the seafront. Whilst the Coastal Defence Scheme will only cover the defences themselves, this document covers everything else. The details of the scheme can be found here.

Seafront Masterplan: Proposed Walking and Cycling Map
Seafront Masterplan: Proposed Walking and Cycling Map

What stage is it at? It’s out for consultation until March 22nd. As before, it will help developers know what we want to see in this area in the future and will help the Council to secure financial contributions from developers towards things like cycling provision.

Why is it relevant to cycling? This document sets out how the seafront will be used and appears  to be very positive. It is very important that the Council receives support to prioritise public space and road layouts first for pedestrians, then cyclists, then public transport and finally for private cars.

Call to action

This document could set out how the seafront will be used for decades so it’s essential Portsmouth gets it right. Again, PCF will generate a response on behalf of our members but it’s really important that as many of you as possible respond individually. You can respond by completing PCC’s online survey here. This may limit what you can say so we recommend you also follow up by contacting your councillor.

Cycling in snow and ice

PCC’s Flagship magazine has proudly declared that “our goal is to ensure all transport routes in and out of the city are clear.” The detail is on the PCC website.

We have asked PCC for reassurance that ‘all transport routes’ includes cycle routes such as the four Sustrans National Cycle Network routes in Portsmouth (NCNs 2, 22, 222 and 236) are included in gritting plans to keep transport routes open. Regrettably, they’re not. Even though the highway authority (PCC) has a statutory duty under the Highways Act to ‘provide for the safe movement of people and goods’, there is no policy to keep cycle routes clear of snow and ice.

The consequences of not gritting cycle routes are potentially grave:
• Ice and snow make cycling more difficult and potentially hazardous.
• Cyclists compelled to use icy main roads will avoid gutters filled with ice or snow. Riding towards the centre of the lane is likely to slow motor traffic and increase congestion and driver frustration.
• Congestion is likely to increase because not maintaining the cycle network at all times in all weathers will increase the likelihood that cyclists who are car owners will feel obliged to drive.
• Not maintaining cycle routes could be seen as discriminating against those who do not have access to cars or can’t afford taxis, and would reinforce the undesirable belief that the only safe way to get around our congested city is by motor vehicle.
• Failing to maintain cycle access all year round hinders active and sustainable travel and will increase the city’s already illegally high levels of air pollution.

The options available to cyclists are therefore:
• Use the main cycle routes with extreme caution because they will not be gritted
• Use the main roads because cycle routes will not be gritted
• Don’t cycle

The Met Office has excellent information about cycling in ice and snow provided by Cycling UK. As a minimum:
1. Let out some air – grip is improved by increasing contact with the road. Letting a little air out from your tyres can make a real difference.
2. Slow it down – icy conditions and narrow cycle tyres at speed can be a recipe for disaster. if in doubt about conditions, take it easy.
3. Keep out of the gutter after rain and following a freeze, the sides of roads can be treacherous.
4. Chill out – if you do hit some ice or a similarly slippery surface, sudden steering movements and sharp braking can see you go from the vertical to the horizontal in record time. Relax and ride it out or, if it’s an extended stretch, consider walking the distance
5. Stay seen – low winter sun and the longer nights can make visibility both for you and other road users all the harder. Ensure you have good front and rear lights. During the day watch out for that low sun both for own visibilty and the possibility that drivers may not see you.
6. Dress appropriately – layers are best for trapping in warm air and can help you regulate your temperature while riding. Keep hands, feet and head protected as these will suffer more in the cold.
7. Consider alternatives – think about changing your route or the time of your journey to avoid icy conditions.
If weather conditions are extreme, consider whether cycling is a safe option.

So wrap up warm and take care out there!

John Holland: An Obituary

With immense regret and sorrow we have to report the untimely death of John Holland. John was diagnosed with leukemia late last summer and appeared to be responding well to his treatment. Unfortunately secondary cancers were identified early in the new year and John moved to the Rowan’s Hospice, where he passed away on Thursday the 24th January.

John was one of the founders of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, which was established as an independent campaigning voice by four committed individuals: John, Mike Dobson, Paul Iggulden and Paul Dawson. A prototype cycle forum had originally been started by the city council, but when it became clear that cyclists were demanding more than bland reassurances the council decided to cut the funding and close it down. However, John, Mike, Paul and Paul had other ideas. Recognising cyclists needed a strong voice to hold the local authority to account the four took responsibility to establish Portsmouth Cycle Forum as a citizen-led campaign.

John chairs the CTC / Cyclenation 'Future Cycling Cities' conference, hosted in Portsmouth in 2010.
John chairs the CTC / Cyclenation ‘Future Cycling Cities’ conference, hosted in Portsmouth in 2010.

As the cycle forum grew John took on the role of chair, which he carried out in his characteristic warm, open and consensual style. Nobody felt they were being dictated to but we all wanted to help. John did politics but only with a big ‘P’ – always focussed on helping the city’s decision makers make the best choices, but never on the petty politics of personal advancement. John was there for the causes he cared about and never out for himself.

When I joined the cycle forum committee around 2008 the committee had grown into a fairly large and vibrant group. John welcomed me into that group and made me feel a part of things from the very first meeting. John gently tutored me in the art of campaigning and lobbying a local authority in the months that followed. John had a wonderful way of guiding people without them even noticing. Never feeling I was being mentored, and certainly never feeling I was being taught to suck eggs, John empowered me and so many others to engage effectively with politicians. It’s only on reflection that I realise how much I learned from John.

I eventually took over as chair of the forum from John, a daunting task but John could not have made it easier for me. He was happy to act in the role of vice chair and continued to provide sage advice, gentle guidance and a huge amount of support.

As time went on and the cycle forum committee was strengthened by some new faces John was able to focus more on some other community causes, like the Community Cycle Centre and the No. 6 Cinema. John was instrumental in turning both of those from ideas to reality, and both have made hundreds and hundreds of people happy.

John understood that the small stuff really matters. That a Community Cycle Centre, giving people access to bikes, one-by-one, really does make a difference. Over the years it’s added up to a huge amount and a great amount of that success is John’s. Person-by-person, bike-by-bike, a massive difference has been made.

John as 'Dr Bike' - fixing bikes and changing lives with the Community Cycle Centre.
John as ‘Dr Bike’ – fixing bikes and changing lives with the Community Cycle Centre.

John’s gentle, caring, determined approach won him the admiration of those who worked with him and respect too from people who opposed his arguments. John was never aggressive but neither could he easily be silenced. With calmness, patience and determination he made sure he got his message across. John was a calm, reasoned voice in a world of empty hyperbole. And he made that count.

It was a delight to learn, a few days ago, about John’s Civic Pride award from Portsmouth City Council. John has given so much to so many and his giving has been truly selfless. He deserves that award and, as just one of the organisations that has benefited so much from his help, we thank him for his dedication to doing the right thing.

John was a wonderful colleague, comrade and friend. Aside from all the causes and campaigning there was time for bike rides and for beer in the King Street Tavern and the Brewhouse, where we set the world to rights on Thursday nights after our open meetings. We’ll all miss those nights and our mate John.

Here’s to you John.

February Open Meeting

Our next meeting is Thursday 21 February at 7.00pm in Lecture Theatre 2 of the Richmond Building of the University of Portsmouth.  Please arrive for 6.45 pm so we can start on time.

Our guest speaker for this meeting will be Dr Jason Horsley, Joint Director of Public Health for Southamton and Portsmouth

Can you help us respond to planning applications in your area?

2019-01-15 11_15_25-City Centre Road Network - PCF Exec - Google Drive

Every month there are around five or six planning applications that we feel require a response from Portsmouth Cycle Forum to make sure that people riding bikes are considered when new developments happen where we are riding.

Responding to a planning application can seem daunting – but really it’s easier than it can first seem and a good chance to see democracy at work close up, and to make improvements to the area you live, city-wide and/or on your doorstep!

We’ve put together a handy guide to help you respond. If you’d like to get involved, email us at [email protected]

Check out the guidance on its new campaign page.

November open meeting!

Our next meeting is Thursday 15 November at 7.00pm in Lecture Theatre 2 of the Richmond Building of the University of Portsmouth.  Please arrive for 6.45 pm so we can start on time.

We are trying to vary the format of our open meetings and this month we have two guest speakers talking about local cycling issues.

Free membership (but don’t forget to sign up!)

At our March AGM we agreed to trial a year’s free membership for anyone wishing to join PCF. In a time of tight budgets nationwide this might seem counterintuitive but, hold tight, we have some logic to this…

We had over 1,000 people signed up our facebook group but only around 40 paid up members so, when we’re telling the council that we have member support for what we’re saying – our voice was only technically 40 strong. By making membership free and inviting all 1,000 facebook users (and anyone else!) to join up we can make our voice louder and ensure that we speak on behalf of a wider group of cyclists across the city.

We feel that volume is more important than our bank balance, particularly as our costs have reduced in recent years thanks to free room hire and low web hosting costs. When we need funds, we plan to crow dfund, which worked very successfully when “A City to Share” was launched. Don’t worry though – cake will still be available in exchange for donations at our meetings! We’re also entirely open to anyone wishing to make one-off, or monthly donations online.

Handily, this move also tied in well with the timescale for GDPR – the new data protection regulations, so we’ve put everything together with a neat and tidy bow.

To join, and help us comply with GDPR in one fell swoop, click here.

PCF Awarded ‘Outstanding Campaigning Group’

We are really delighted to announce that Portsmouth Cycle Forum’s hard work has been recognised with an award from the national cycling charity Cycling UK. We have been awarded the title of ‘Outstanding Campaigning Group’ in the charity’s 2018 Volunteer of the Year Awards.

The award particularly recognises the exceptional effort that we put in to respond to the tragic death of Tim Atkins on the Eastern Road cycle path last year. This has seen the council make some substantial commitments to improve the city’s paths and streets for cyclists. We are looking forward to working with councillors and officers to support them in seeing these commitments through to real changes.

The past year also finally saw the City Council formally adopt a cycling strategy based on the ‘A City to Share’ document that was launched in 2014. This strategy development was entirely developed by community volunteers, led by Portsmouth Cycle Forum and supported by Portsmouth Friends of the Earth. Its recognition at full council this year comes after four years of hard work by the committee and other volunteers. It is the only community-developed cycle strategy we are aware of to have been formally adopted by a local authority.

This year has also seen members of the committee giving up time to engage with the city and developers on numerous issues. These include the ongoing battle to provide space for cyclists whilst the Tipner sea defences are replaced; supporting PCC in the launch of their pilot Near Miss reporting tool; engaging with the planning team at PCC to get cycling properly included in the plans for the city centre roads and commenting on numerous planning applications and traffic regulation orders.

Ian Saunders, our Chair, has led a real team effort to deliver on all this and deserves special thanks – supporting and organising numerous meetings and acting as the focal point of our work. Many thanks to Ian and to all of the committee and volunteers. There is a great deal of work still to be done and we hope this award will act as a catalyst for further change.

If you’d like to read what Cycling UK and Portsmouth News had to say, here are the links:

Peter Walker was our guest on the 20th September

https _cdn.evbuc.com_images_48019320_67378900689_1_originalWe’re delighted to announce that our guest speaker at our Open Meeting on the 20th September is Peter Walker. His book Bike Nation: How Cycling Can Save the World takes us on a journey around the world, exploring the varying attitudes to cycling on our highways.

Visit the shining examples of Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where cycling culture is an intrinsic part of the approach of politicians and officials. How have these cities made provision for cyclists and what are the extraordinary benefits?

And then take to the less welcoming roads of Britain, USA and Australia, where cycling can still be a terrifying experience. What are the tragic mistakes being made when planning and developing cities, and how do these mistakes lead to aggression towards the cycling community?

Peter is Political Correspondent for the Guardian. In 2009 he set up the Guardian Bike Blog which has published dozens of writers and has quickly become a primary destination for cycling debate. In 2014 he was named by BikeBizmagazine as one of the 50 most influential people in UK cycling, and in 2016 he was shortlisted in the Specialist Writer category at the Cycling Media Awards.

Greater Manchester Walking and Cycling Commissioner and former professional cyclist Chris Boardman says “Peter Walker has written the book I wanted to write”

We expect this event to be popular, so make sure you put your name down ASAP!

And you may want to buy Peter’s book before the event!

The Open Meeting is on the 20th September at the Richmond Building, University of Portsmouth starting at 7pm

Please get you tickets here.

Coastal Defences Update

From the Southsea Coastal Scheme team

New consultation dates announced for summer 2018

Following our engagement events at the end of last year, we are going to be out and about across the city in July holding a new series of consultation events on our emerging designs. These will be held at:

EASTNEY COMMUNITY CENTRE: 4 July, 1pm-7pm

CANOE LAKE TENNIS PAVILION: 6 July, 1.30pm- 7.30pm

ASPEX GALLERY: 10 July, 1pm-7pm

ANCHORAGE PARK COMMUNITY CENTRE: 11 July, 3pm-7pm

ST JUDE’S CHURCH: 12 July, 1pm-7pm

COSHAM COMMUNITY CENTRE: 16 July, 3pm-7pm

ROYAL NAVAL CLUB & ROYAL ALBERT YACHT CLUB: 17 July, 1pm-7pm

FRATTON COMMUNITY CENTRE: 20 July, 1pm-7pm

We’ll be asking you for your help with some big decisions, which include how some of the seafront roads could be used in the future and how the new defences could look near South Parade Pier. You’ll also be able to sign-up to workshops where you can interrogate the emerging designs with the help of experts, who will explain the opportunities and constraints in each area. 3D visualisations and animations will help you imagine what the emerging designs could look like on the seafront.

Running alongside our consultation will be the beginning of a review of Portsmouth City Council’s seafront masterplan. This strategy is known as a ‘supplementary planning document’, which is intended to guide improvements to this area of the city. Staff from the council’s planning team will be on hand to tell you more and get your feedback at all of the consultation venues. This approach will ensure that all the opportunities that are created by the construction of the new sea defences can be realised in the future. We look forward to seeing you there!

All change, again!

The news that the Liberal Democrats will be running Portsmouth City Council again from May 2018 means that PCF will be looking to work with its fourth Traffic and Transportation cabinet member in as many years.

Councillor Lynne Stagg will take up the reins for a second time, and having been Lib Dems’ spokesperson for the portfolio prior to the recent election, she will hopefully be up to speed with a number of the pressing issues, which of course includes those concerning cycling in the city. She has previously pushed for safer cycle routes in Baffins and Milton.

At this point the PCF committee would like to thank Councillor Simon Bosher for all his work in the ten months since taking over the role a week before Tim Atkins’ fatal accident on the Eastern Road last June. He has been approachable, pro-active in developing schemes and dealing with issues as well as giving the departmental officers the aim to identify and develop schemes for future cycle infrastructure and planning. He also accepted an invitation to come out on a ride with us last summer and was open enough to accept that there were a range of issues facing cyclists in the city and set about trying to address some of them.

The most obvious example of this being the relocated lamp posts and signage on the Hope Street cycle lane (the main one between the ferry port and the city centre). These lamp posts were on a blind corner, close to fast traffic which was only exacerbated on a dark evening by the brightness of oncoming car headlights facing anyone cycling southbound. We had campaigned for many years to have these obstacles removed from the middle of the cycle lane and had repeatedly been told it could not be done. Another example was the creation of a cycle lane on Farlington Avenue to allow cycles to filter past the traffic islands installed to control vehicle speeds towards the top of the road. It’s so much easier not having to re-start pedalling while trying to go uphill!

It is for these reasons that we hope he might retain responsibility for the area in opposition. We will want to see him on the bike hire scheme that he instigated when its launched in the summer and to ensure that the commitment to improving cycling conditions in the city is maintained. Cllr Bosher has been an extremely effective T&T post holder and we wish him well. We hope Cllr Stagg will build on what he has started and work across party lines to deliver the best possible outcomes for cyclists in the city.

So what we can expect from the new administration? Well to start with it was their motion to full council last October that initiated the spending commitment of a guaranteed 10% of annual LTP funding. The motion included the request that the council “Develops a strategy to implement in full Portsmouth Cycle Forum’s ‘A City to Share‘; such strategy to include a costed network of safe, accessible and direct routes that link places and people”, a commitment that was repeated in their 2018 local election manifesto, and so we look forward to working with them to achieve that, especially as it will cost more than the funding currently guaranteed. Perhaps they could follow the example of other councils who are promoting the health benefits of active travel by using some of the public health budget to help get infrastructure built?

This year’s LTP transport schemes already include a number of cycling related safety and infrastructure improvements to be rolled out, and it will not be long until the list for 2019/2020 is starting to be developed so we hope that they will build upon the current progress in order to create the network required to enable those currently apprehensive about cycling to try it for themselves.

If they should start to flag on their commitments, then Labour will soon let them know. They also pledged to implement our ‘A City To Share’ Strategy in their 2018 local election manifesto and with group leader Stephen Morgan MP also sitting on the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group in Westminster and having recently come on a ride with us around his constituency, there is also a strong will on their part to build on the recent successes in the city ahead of the 2019 elections.

In our recent 2018 AGM report to members, I wondered that when we look back at 2017 in five or ten years time, will we remember it as the year that things finally started to change for cyclists in Portsmouth, or that it was just another false dawn? There is now a direction of travel for cycling in the city which all three main parties generally agree upon. Whether this is because of the need to reduce congestion in the city, improve air quality, increase the level of physical activity of citizens or to just make it a safer place to ride on two wheels, I feel positive that improvements will arrive whoever is running the show.

The next couple of years has the makings of a landmark point for cycling in the city. We need to support those who are assisting us to achieve our aims, question the means of getting there and be critical of those who put up barriers or deflect our course. We all want a City to Share, as do the rest of Portsmouth. Even if they don’t realise it!

Written by: Ian Saunders (Chair)

Vote Bike

Local elections are almost upon us and one third of the council seats are up for grabs. Now’s your chance to press your local candidates to commit to making cycling safer if they win on Thurs May 3rd.

We’re asking candidates to sign up to deliver “A City to Share” (check it out) – our vision is that Portsmouth becomes the pre-eminent cycling city of the UK and is:

A city fit for the future: a healthy, safe, sustainable, prosperous city that people want to live in, to work in and to visit.

A city where we share spaces, co-operate with each other and treat one another with courtesy and respect

On Saturday 21 April we invited local candidates to join us for a bike ride and picnic and talk about what they will do to make our city a better place.

Despite some recent local improvements, Portsmouth is still the most dangerous place in the country to cycle, after London – this has to change before more people will feel safe enough to ride.

At our picnic, Tom Guha, infrastructure campaigner with Cycling UK reminded us just how important the physical environment is for making cycling safe and attractive. He spoke to our members and the candidates about the tragically avoidable death of Tim Atkins who died last year after a collision with another cyclist on a poor stretch of cycle path which saw him fall into the Eastern Road and the path of an oncoming van. Everyone was cycling and driving as they should have been, but the terrible sight lines at this location meant the two cyclists had no chance of seeing the other coming. Since Tim’s death, the junction has been improved and political cross party agreement was made to invest more in cycle infrastructure.

Candidates from Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem parties came along and pledged to do more if they are elected.

Councillor Bosher, current conservative transport portfolio holder and standing again in Drayton and Farlington ward committed to “continue with [investing] over 30% of LTP [local transport plan funding] in cycling; introduce early release lighting at junctions..and…introduce mandatory cycle lanes” (i.e. ones where you can’t park you car, not even for a couple of minutes)

Ben Dowling, lib dem councillor standing again in Milton ward pledged to “work with Portsmouth Cycle Forum to implement “A City to Share” as far as is possible.”

Tom Coles, labour candidate for Fratton promised to “work towards implementing … A City to Share” and “work on further safe routes.”

Elections will be held on Thurs 3rd May so now’s the time to drop your candidates a line, a letter, an email, a tweet; whatever you like, just let them know how you feel and what improvements you’d like to see! Find your candidates here #acitytoshare #votebike #spaceforcycling

Join us for our first big ride of the year! – Sat 21 April

This coming Saturday, 21 April, local residents are set to pedal their way across Portsmouth to the Watkins and Faux Cafe on Southsea Seafront, where candidates in the forthcoming council elections have also been invited to discuss those issues about cycling in the city, and they will be encouraged to give their pledges to improve the city’s cycling facilities.

The event is led by the Portsmouth Cycle Forum and is one of twelve events taking place ahead of the local elections as part of Cycling UK’s ‘Vote Bike’ campaign.

Building on the momentum of last year, in which Portsmouth City Council passed a motion to ring-fence a minimum proportion of its annual Local Travel Plan funding to invest in cycle infrastructure in support of the Forum’s ‘A City to Share’ strategy the event hopes to get support for the plans from all council candidates.

Tom Guha, Cycling UK’s Infrastructure Campaigner said: “Last year, Portsmouth council got behind our vision of a happier, healthier and more active city. With a third of the council’s seats potentially about to change hands, it is critical that all incoming candidates buy into that vision and do what they can to accelerate it”.

Ian Saunders, Chair of the Cycle Forum said: “Portsmouth already has one of the country’s highest rates of cycling – but it remains a comparatively dangerous place to do so. Our vision is of city where everyone feels safe to cycle – and it is fantastic to see so many council candidates already backing us.”

After arriving at Watkins and Faux café at Southsea Tennis Club by 2pm, there will be a short presentation before attendees will be able to chat to candidates, PCF and Cycling UK reps and have a picnic. So, alongside your sarnies, you’ll also get a chance to ask that burning question to prospective new councillors like “why does the cycle lane near my house just stop” or “how can you make Copnor Road safe for my children to cycle to school” etc, etc.

The ride is open to all, riding on quiet or traffic free routes, and can be picked up from following points, or you can arrive directly at Watkins & Faux in time for the 2pm start.

  • 12:30 depart from Farlington Marshes, then roughly every fifteen minutes at the next spots, but arrive early; in case we do too – we’ll have hungry pic-nickers so we won’t wait about…
  • Portsmouth Watersports Centre
  • Goals / Tangiers Road Junction on Eastern Road
  • Bransbury Park Car Park
  • Coffee Cup – Eastney Esplanade

The ‘PCF Big Bike Picnic Ride’ Facebook Event is available to register for the ride to ensure that there are enough ride leaders for the number of people attending.

EXEC UPDATE: 09:03:18

Another lively exec meeting this evening. There’s always a load to cram in at the meeting before an AGM – don’t forget that’s THIS THURSDAY (15th) at Richmond Building on Burnaby Road.

The contents of this month’s exec meeting included a chat about PCC’s new “Near Miss Reporting Tool”- we’ve been asking for this for ages so it’s great to see it’s been soft-launched ready for everyone to contribute to. You can find it here.  PCC will use this data to build up a picture of areas of the city where cyclists have experienced a near miss – that is; have been annoyed or scared by behaviour of another road user,  or the road layout, or a defect etc. This will help them direct their resources to where they are needed most.

We also had a long debate about membership and fees. We’re going to make quite a drastic proposal at the AGM so be there to find out about these changes and what it means for the development of the Forum.

Tube Map update: The Tube Map our members created last AGM (that was a whole year ago already!) has now been completed and will be launched this Thursday at this year’s AGM. The map shows where existing infrastructure is good, bad and ugly. PCC has already shown interest in working with us to turn bad (red) tube routes into good ones (blue) to turn the map blue – very fitting for Pompey!

Finally, we decided on the boundaries of the new Warden posts we’d like to add to our committee – these are based on electoral ward boundaries and are as follows:

  1. Paulsgrove and Cosham
  2. Drayton & Farlington, and Copnor
  3. Baffins and Milton
  4. Hilsea, Nelson and Fratton
  5. Charles Dickens, St. Thomas and St. Jude
  6. Central Southsea and Eastney & Craneswater

These warden committee members would be champions of their area, providing key local knowledge on issues and routes, and helping to establish links with local elected members and other groups.  They’d be invited to the exec meetings once a month too.  Interested? Get in touch, or come to the AGM. Did I mention, it’s this Thursday in Richmond Building on Burnaby Road at 19:00!!!

See you there.

Exec update: 09:02:18

Phew! Just finished another Friday night Exec meeting with so much content we overran again. Here’s a flavour of this month’s hot topics, and what’s coming up at our Open Meeting on 15th February and our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 15th.

EXEC UPDATE:  After lots of activity on our Facebook page over the last couple of weeks, the Stamshaw Road and Twyford Avenue cycle lanes made it to “matters arising”. These two lanes are a key concern for members as they’re squeezed between a heavy flow of traffic and the dreaded dooring zone. We’re planning to discuss with with PCC and push for a redesign.  Other locations discussed included Francis Avenue, Fratton Road Roundabout and Holbrook Road Roundabout where PCC has asked for our input on proposed schemes.

We also heard about PCC’s new “near miss” reporting tool which will be going live later this year – this is a really positive step to help cyclists report spots where they’ve been scared or annoyed by the behaviour of other road users, or perhaps even the layout of the road, and we hope it will help to identify locations for future safety improvement schemes. We’ll be providing PCC with feedback on a beta version.

With elections for local councillors coming up in May this year we have started planning a Big Bike Picnic to be held on 21 April where members can come along with their friends and families and discuss their cycling woes and dreams with the candidates to help shape the future of cycling in the city (and decide who’s most likely to help us get there!)

OPEN MEETING: Our next open meeting on Feb 15th will focus on our response to the City Centre Road proposal application and, as usual,  Council Officers will be on hand from 6.15pm for their Cycle Surgery where you can raise site specific issues with them on a 1:1 basis.  TAKE NOTE – Park Road/Anglesea Junction is closed for railway bridge repairs so you’ll need to take a different route to get to Richmond Building this month.

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING: The AGM is fast approaching (March 15th) and as always, we’re on the look out for new committee members – we have some new posts opening up including “wardens” for 6 different areas of the city (on the island – north east/north west/south east/south west AND off the island east and west). The wardens would be our “go-to” people for local knowledge and having discussions with councillors. Could it be you?

Finally, Jon Riding will be presenting our cycling tube map which is a result of efforts by attendees at last year’s AGM. We’ve already started using this tube map to share our concerns and ideas for improvements with PCC.

 

 

City Centre Road Scheme

Portsmouth City Council has just finished consulting on a new road layout for the city centre, which could see some drastic changes. The proposed design has been finalised and submitted for approval by the planning committee. Portsmouth Cycle Forum has objected to the plans for a number of reasons.

The design seems to be overwhelmingly focussed on easing the flow of motor traffic; with the convenience, safety and benefit of pedestrians and cyclists coming a distant second. Despite the extensive redesign of the road network it delivers very little for non-motorised road users. Pedestrians and cyclists will continue to compete for the tiny strips of left-over space on the edge of multi-lane highways.

The opportunity to improve the Market Way & Hope Street shared use path, beside the dockyard wall has been foregone. There will be some very minor width improvements but these will not occur where they are desperately needed near the blind bends. Worse, a crossing point will be added, creating hazards with lamp columns and the potential for collision with stationary pedestrians and cyclists as they wait to cross. It also seems likely that the lamp posts, which we fought so hard to get moved, will be moved back. In our view this path is one of the worst cycle facilities in the country and, unless something is done to improve these plans, that will remain the case for the foreseeable future

There will be some improvements to access to and across the northern parts of the city centre, but the opportunity for major benefits to cyclists is currently being lost. We are calling on councillors to reject this application and ask for a better plan, which delivers against Portsmouth City Council’s obligations to pedestrians and cyclists.

You can read the full text of our objection here. Note that, should the plans be approved there is no funding in place at present to immediately implement the scheme. Any planning approval will improve PCC’s chances of winning funding from central government though, so it is important that we do all we can to make sure that only the right design gets approved.