All change at Kings Road roundabout?

As a response to meetings with the Portsmouth Cycle Forum and others traffic engineers have remodelled the Kings Road roundabout in Southsea. Unfortunately instead of being extensively changed to make it a safer roundabout for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists the roundabout has instead had minimal change at maximum cost.

Jon Spencer, Cycle Forum Chair, attended the meeting with Portsmouth City Council traffic officers. ‘I’m really disappointed with what has happened at Kings Road roundabout. In the meeting we talked about a complete overhaul of the roundabout including soft separators between the car and cycle lanes and making it the first Dutch style roundabout in the city. The layout now is hardly any different from what was there before and actually has some more dangerous features like the cycle lanes rejoining the main highway at right angles to the traffic.’

The Kings Road roundabout has one of the highest cycle accident rates in Portsmouth and this redesign will do little if anything to reduce that rate.

Portsmouth Cycle Forum is also pushing for a commitment from the council to be honoured that they are consulted on the future lay outs of other dangerous roundabouts in the city which are currently under review. This is as part of our campaign to halve cycle injury statistics by 2020

 

AGM 2016 Brainstorming exercise

After the formal business of our AGM we had a brainstorming exercise to get ideas on how Portsmouth City Council could implement the City to Share.  This covered the topics of Equality, Leisure, Planning, Safety and Transport.  Here are the scans of everyone’s ideas:

C2S Equality1 C2S Leisure1  C2S Leisure2 C2S Leisure3 C2S Planning1 C2S Planning2 C2S Safety1 C2S Safety2 C2S Safety3 C2S Transport2 C2S Transport1

2016 Annual General Meeting

On the 21 April we had our AGM.  These are the minutes:

  1. Welcome and introduction by the Chairman.

Jon Spencer welcomed everyone to the Annual General meeting.

  1. Minutes of Annual General Meeting of 20 March 2015: They were approved without dissent.
  2. Matters arising from last AGM: None.
  3. Chairman’s Report 2016:  Jon highlighted the highs and lows of the year and thanked those who had given their support, time and financial contribution. The full text is published here:

Chair Report 1516

5. Treasurer’s report and accounts:

Roger presented the detailed accounts of the Forum.  Thanks to the increase in annual subscriptions from £5 to £10 last year we are on a much sounder financial footing, although there was a fall in members from 66 to 60.  This is being addressed by regular reminders for those who need to renew.  The report can be found on the website. The meeting approved the report without dissent.

PCF Accounts report 15-16

6. Elections:

Jon has been Chair for 3 years and is finding the commitment too much to bear.  He stood down and asked if there were any nominations for a replacement.  None was forthcoming so Jon has agreed to stay as interim Chair for 3 months.  He urged members to think about candidates and we will need an EGM to elect a new Chair.  Jon also asked for nominations for vice-chair and secretary.  Jon also explained a little about the roles.  No nominations were forthcoming and so both will need to be chosen at the EGM.  Roger was only candidate for Treasurer and was willing to continue.  Other roles for committee members were explained.

Chairman: Jon Spencer will continue for 3 months as interim.  Replacement to be decided at EGM.

Vice-chairman: to be decided at EGM.

Secretary: to be decided at EGM.

Treasurer: Roger Inkpen was the only nomination. He was elected nem.com.

Notice: an EGM will need to be held by mid-July.          

7. Committee members: A communications officer is needed to co-ordinate posts for the website, Facebook, Twitter and chase stories for newsletters. Jon Riding agreed to take this role.  Roger will continue organising rides.  The following were sole nominations and were elected nem.com. en bloc:

Joe McGannan John Holland
Mike Dobson Phil Kirkham
Tom Hart Nicola Waight
Jon Riding Jacek Kopecky
Matthew Winnington Ian Saunders

8. Close: The Chair thanked all for attending.

The AGM closed at 7.45pm.  This was followed by an exercise to follow-up the City to Share cycle strategy.  Feedback from this will be uploaded to the website.

Election Meeting

Election time is nearing, with a councillor up for election in each of the 14 wards across the city on the 5th May. We’ve invited the representatives of each party to speak at our next meeting and we’ll be asking them to commit to halving the rate of cycling casualties on Portsmouth’s Roads by 2020. We’ll be inviting every candidate in the election to come along too and we’ll be writing to them individually to ask them for their support.

The main focus of the meeting will be to give you a chance to ask questions of our politicians about their plans and views on cycling.

The meeting will take place in Lecture Theatre 3, Richmond Building of the University of Portsmouth at 7pm on the 28th April.

Please let us know if you are planning on coming to this meeting by booking a place here. The meeting is free and open to all but it is REALLY helpful for us to know how many people are coming.

Click here to attend this meeting

April Meetings

We have not one but two important meetings coming up in April – our AGM and our Election Meeting.

Annual General Meeting

We will be holding our annual general meeting at 7pm on Thursday 21st April in the Community Room at the new Tesco Extra store on Fratton Way . The community room is to the right as you get to the upper level, behind the checkouts.

The AGM is open to paid up members only and is a chance for our members to elect a committee and have their say on how the cycle forum is run and how it focuses its campaigns. If you’d like to come alone but are not yet a member then you can join online now.

Please use this form to tell us you’d like to come to the AGM.

We’re really keen to get some new faces on to our committee – if you’d like to get involved or want to know more PLEASE get in touch.

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.

Please use this form to tell us you’d like to come to the AGM.

Election Meeting

Election time is nearing, with a councillor up for election in each of the 14 wards across the city on the 5th May. We’ve invited the representatives of each party to speak at our next meeting and we’ll be asking them to commit to halving the rate of cycling casualties on Portsmouth’s Roads by 2020. We’ll be inviting every candidate in the election to come along too and we’ll be writing to them individually to ask them for their support.

The main focus of the meeting will be to give you a chance to ask questions of our politicians about their plans and views on cycling.

The meeting will take place in Lecture Theatre 3, Richmond Building of the University of Portsmouth at 7pm on the 28th April.

Please let us know if you are planning on coming to this meeting by booking a place here. The meeting is free and open to all but it is REALLY helpful for us to know how many people are coming.

Click here to attend this meeting

A bad day for cycling at the T&T committee

Today two of our committee members – Joe McGannan and Jon Spencer – attended the Portsmouth City Council Traffic & Transportation Decision meeting at the Guildhall. Joe was to make a deputation against proposals to narrow the pavements in North End to squeeze in more parking. I was to make a deputation to keep two way cycling in Portchester and Wymering roads in North End. The latter decision was made in accordance with our wishes but the former raised serious concerns.

The meeting was chaired by Cllr Linda Symes, deputising for Cllr Ken Ellcome.

North End Parking

Cllr Symes approved the plans to narrow the pavements in North End to create more on street parking. This was despite three deputations objecting to the parking proposals made by members of the public. This was despite objections were raised by a bus company and the Cycle Forum. This was despite the fact that nobody felt it worth coming to the meeting to support the proposals.

Sustainable transport used to be a thing in North End, back when there were sustainable businesses

Sustainable transport used to be a thing in North End, back when there were sustainable businesses

London Road is the most dangerous road in Portsmouth for cyclists. We know that outside of a few London boroughs Portsmouth is the most dangerous city in the country for cyclists. That makes London Road amongst the most dangerous roads for cyclists in the entire country.

Our view is that introducing more parking can only make things more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. More cars reversing. More cars pulling out. More doors opening in the path of cyclists. Worse sight lines. Less space. Since 2005 there has been one fatality, six serious injuries and over 40 slight injuries in road traffic incidents on the 200 metre stretch between Chichester Road and Laburnum Grove alone (source: crashmap.co.uk).

We would argue that any scheme that might make this dire situation worse should be subject to the sternest scrutiny. That has not been the case here. We’d like councillors to commit to halving the rate of cycling casualties in Portsmouth by 2020. This decision will not help with that goal; in fact it will quite conceivably make things worse.

This bad decision has been worsened by the complete lack of transparency in the decision making. When summing up the evidence prior to announcing her decision Cllr Symes stated that the council had figures showing the benefit to business and that this outweighed any safety concern. After the meeting I asked Cllr Symes for these figures and it transpired that there were no figures. She was, however, confident that the benefits were ‘massive’. It appears that the public meeting was misled into thinking there were figures backing the decision when there were not.

A subsequent discussion with the senior officer in charge of Traffic and Transportation revealed that the sole basis for the decision was a discussion with a self-selecting group of traders. Despite the fact that the substance of all the objecting views is a matter of public record in the meeting reports pack the record of that discussion with traders will never be published and subject to public scrutiny. This is neither transparent nor equitable.

In February 2015 the Portsmouth City Council Economic Development, Culture & Leisure Scrutiny Panel released a report entitled “Revitalising Local High Streets And Secondary Shopping Areas In The City“. This report was based on extensive evidence gathering from traders and community stakeholders and was put together by a team of councillors from all parties. Today’s decision ignored that work altogether.

It seems that this decision to introduce parking has been made on a hunch. No assessment of the impact on an already serious safety problem. No quantifiable assessment of the potential economic benefit. No equality impact assessment.

A bad day for cycling. A bad day for democratic accountability too.

Open Meeting Report

Lecture Theatre 2, Richmond Building, University of Portsmouth, 7pm Thursday 11th February.

Marcus Jones: TRL Trials of innovative cycling improvements

Transport for London commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL)  to undertake a range of off-street trials of innovative cycling improvements.

Marcus Jones, from TRL gave a comprehensive presentation of these trials which included detailed research into the reactions of the 6000 volunteer participants to the various road layouts trialled, including different styles of roundabouts and cyclist/traffic separation technologies. Based on analysis of the trials, decisions will be made as to whether or not they can be introduced on-street, subject to Department for Transport approval.

Further information here.

Nicola Waight: Vision Zero

Relating to TRL’s research, above, Nicola Waight presented a short video on Vision Zero: a multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic.

Vision Zero started in Sweden and was approved by their parliament in October 1997. It has since been adopted by cities worldwide. Its key idea is that transport systems traditionally place responsibility for safety on road users. The Vision Zero Initiative puts this responsibility on system design.

There followed a discussion about the applicability of this approach to Portsmouth with its country-leading cyclist casualty rate. Following the lead from Portsmouth South’s MP, Flick Drummond, Ken Ellcome, Portsmouth Councillor with responsibility for Transport, endorsed PCF’s City to Share target of reducing Portsmouth’s 2014 cyclist casualty rate by half, by 2020. Councillor Ellcome mentioned the cycle path to be introduced on the north side of Goldsmiths Avenue as an example of the Council’s commitment to improve the safety of cyclists in the city.

Bernie Topham, COO, University of Portsmouth

Bernie presented on the University’s ambition to promote more sustainable travel options for the c.22,000 staff and students of the University. One aspect seen as an enabler for greater use of cycles was the provision of on-street parking in residential areas of the city, particularly around Albert Rd where there is a high density of student housing.

Download Slides – February Meeting

Stretch Yourself with the Cathedral Challenge

Portsmouth CTC are organising a series of week-end rides for people new to group riding or who haven’t cycled for a while. They start after Easter with short ‘get to know you’ rides that include a free bike check and progress through longer distances, tackling a series of challenges along the way:

  • Bronze: Havant to Portsmouth cathedral and back
  • Silver: Chichester cathedral and back via the South Downs National Park
  • Gold: Winchester cathedral and back

All rides are led by CTC-accredited ride leaders and supported by experienced riders. They start from The Spring Centre in Havant or Bidbury Park in Bedhampton.

The Cathedral Challenge page provides more information including some inspirational stories from some of our members who have achieved far more on a bike than they thought possible.

There’s no need for sponsorship, and there’s no fee to join any of the rides. The only cost is one-year’s subscription to CTC if people join more than three rides.

The event is inspired by Bristol CTC’s very successful ‘Get Gorge-ous’ rides.

Open Meeting: Modern Cycle Infrastructure At Last?

Anyone who’s travelled in Europe will have come across a whole variety of features on the road designed to help cyclists, things that are alien to us here in Britain. Segregation at junctions, protected lanes on roundabouts, low level traffic lights, bus stop bypasses to name  a few. Maybe you’ve seen them and wondered why they are not in common use here too.

The good news is that all of these things have been on trial at the Transport Research Lab in Berkshire and as a result may be coming to the UK at last.

At our next public meeting we’ll be hearing from Marcus Jones from the Transport Research Lab about the outcome of those trials and what’s being done to follow them up.

Anyone who’s been to one of our meetings before will know that we’re very concerned about safety on our roads. Portsmouth’s record for cycle safety is fairly dismal and we’re pushing the council to commit to tackling it. At the meeting we’ll be finding out the Vision Zero initiative. It can be summarised in one sentence: No loss of life is acceptable. The Swedish Government and some major US cities have signed up for Vision Zero – could Portsmouth do the same?

We’ll also be hearing from the Chief Operating Officer of the University of Portsmouth about how the 22,000 or so staff and students of the University get around and what is being done to help them get onto their bikes.

The meeting will be in Lecture Theatre 2, Richmond Building, University of Portsmouth at 7pm on Thursday 11th February. We really hope to see you there.

Add the meeting to your calendar

Find the meeting on facebook

Happy Christmas

On behalf of Portsmouth Cycle Forum I’d like to wish all our members and supporters a very happy christmas and may 2016 bring health and happiness to you all.

I’d like to thank you all for your support in 2015 and hope you will continue to support us in 2016. As you know Portsmouth Cycle Forum depends on its members to keep campaigning and we are extremely grateful to all who have joined this year. If you’d like to join then you can do so here on our website.

Our first open meeting of 2016 will be on Thursday 11th February at 7pm so keep the date free. Full details of the meeting will come out in the new year but we are working on a great line up of speakers to follow up the last meeting – our most successful ever.

Open Meeting Report

It was standing room only for latecomers to the Portsmouth Cycle Forum open meeting on Thursday 12th November. To cope with the demand we’d already upgraded from our regular meeting place to a 70-seat lecture theatre in the University and even this was barely enough as 80 people packed the room. Eager guests had come to hear Dr Rachel Aldred speak about her studies into cyclists’ Near Misses and our own Eric de Greef to talk about making the school-run bike-friendly.

Rachel Aldred briefs on the Near Miss project
Rachel Aldred briefs on the Near Miss project

Historically police and local authorities have used data on deaths and serious injuries to inform them about improving safety and reducing danger on our roads. Dr Aldred’s work highlights the importance of near misses and close shaves in influencing perception of danger by surveying cyclists of all abilities making all kinds of journey. Survey respondents complete a diary for one day and detail every time they come close to different levels of risk and danger. Over 1500 diarists detailed nearly 4000 incidents in 2014.

Official statistics show there is a very low chance of even minor injury to regular cyclists – once every 20 years; but analysis of cycling diaries showed an average of one ‘very scary’ incident every week, and the feeling of being abused or harassed a couple of times a month, with lesser near misses likely to happen on a daily basis.

Dr Aldred has a small team and a huge quantity of data from the 2015 survey which was completed last month. She is collaborating with police and local authorities to use this data to influence both the design of infrastructure and the education of road users. Find out more about the Near Miss Project here.

Eric de Greef talks about the school run
Eric de Greef talks about the school run

Eric de Greef had the task of following Rachel Aldred and delivered an excellent talk about the work Cycle Forum volunteers have been doing to get more children cycling to school. They have been working with schools and council officers to understand the barriers to cycling, so that ways can be developed to make the school run more bike friendly. This is no easy task but it is an essential one – getting kids on bikes builds activity into their day and gives them independence. This will help foster a healthier, more confident generation.

Other items included and appeal for a bit more diversity on the committee – at the moment we are very white and predominantly male. We’d love more women to get involved in our committee and people from different ethnic backgrounds. If you’re interested please get in touch.

We are very proud of our open meetings and put a lot of effort into creating a friendly forum where there can be a grown-up debate about transport issues without petty party politics, name calling or intimidation. We hope you enjoy them – if you do and you haven’t yet joined the cycle forum, please consider doing that. It only costs £10 and we depend on subscriptions to survive – click here to make it happen.

Thanks to everyone who came and helped make this meeting such a success.

Open Meeting with Dr Rachel Aldred

Update: we have had to move the meeting to a larger room due to popular demand! The meeting will now take place in Lecture Theatre 3 on the Ground Floor of Richmond Building, University of Portsmouth.

Fantastic News! We’re pleased to announce we’ll have a very special guest speaker at our open meeting on Thursday 12 November. Dr Rachel Aldred, senior lecturer in transport at Westminster University, will join us to talk about the Near Miss Project. Dr Aldred is one of the UK’s pre-eminent experts on  cycling and has been behind much of the work that has created such a solid base of evidence about the benefits of cycling. In fact we drew on her research frequently whilst drafting A City to Share.

Rachel Aldred wins Total Women's Cycling Cycling Initiative of the Year for the Near Miss Project
Rachel Aldred wins Total Women’s Cycling Cycling Initiative of the Year for the Near Miss Project

Dr Aldred is in great demand to talk about her work so we’re very lucky to get her for the evening. Her research looks at those ‘close shaves’ which don’t result in injury, but very much affect cyclists’ behaviour and may give a clue as to where actual injuries may occur in the future.

We’ll also be hearing about the work of the team we set up to look at why so few children cycle to school and what can be done to get more children cycling.

So make sure you get down to Lecture Theatre 3, Ground Floor, Richmond Building, University of Portsmouth by 6.45 to get a seat! The meeting starts at 7pm, and we’ll also be talking about the latest accident figures and how to get more women and children cycling. Don’t forget: 6.45pm on Thursday 12 November.

We’re expecting a big turnout for this meeting, so please let us know if you plan to come – click here to drop us an email.

Near Miss Project needs you!

The Near Miss Project is back for its second year and it needs your help. The project, led by Dr. Rachel Aldred at the University of Westminster, studies cycling incidents that don’t result in injuries, but may profoundly influence people’s experiences and behaviours or even give an indication of where future collisions may happen.

The findings could be used by planners and policy-makers; to inform street design, for example. The team will also use the data to engage the public in an informed debate and help all road users better understand how a minor incident might affect a person cycling.

To take part, just pick a day between 19 October and 1 November when you’ll be cycling, sign up online and record your experience here or visit nearmiss.bike for more details and last year’s findings.

Southsea Seafront Cycle Lane Safety

The seafront cycle lane in Southsea that runs from South Parade along to Henderson Road  has come in for some criticism recently after a pedestrian fell over a kerb which separates the parked cars from the cycle lane.  

Portsmouth Cycle Forum regret this incident and wish Roger Homer a speedy recovery from his injuries. We do feel, however, that his request for the islands to be removed would be an ineffective use of public money that would not utilise the best return for the taxpayer.

We would like to see improvements made in other areas of the city where cycling collisions are much more frequent, these need to be urgently addressed before a fatality occurs. The recent publication of the DfT statistics, showing that the accident rate in Portsmouth has worsened since last year, proves that the city has roads which need drastic improvement.

Crashmap shows that the junction at Albert Road, B2154 and Victoria Road,  B2151, had two serious crashes involving people who cycle last year. Albert Road had 6 bicycle-vehicle collisions with 3 serious and 3 slight injuries last year. St George’s Road at the entrance to Gunwharf Quays had 4 bicycle-vehicle collisions, 2 serious and 2 slight injuries last year.

These, along with other cycle crash hot spots, being altered would be of far more benefit to Portsmouth than of using the money to remove the seafront islands. The cost to the taxpayer of the injuries sustained in these crashes are on average £235,791 for serious injuries and £24,887 for slight injuries (ref). The costs of the incidents described above can be estimated at just over £1.3 million pounds. This would likely have covered the costs of the required junction improvements several times over. 

The function of the “islands” on the seafront cycle route is to protect the people using the cycle lane from opening car doors.  If the islands were removed then it’s likely we would see an increase in cars parking closer to the cycle lane as there would be no physical barrier. Motor vehicle doors opening into the cycle path would cause a huge hazard and lead to increased, not a reduction, in injuries, which nobody wants.

Pedal Portsmouth Report

At the Start
At the Start

Portsmouth City Council staged the inaugural Pedal Portsmouth Event today. Portsmouth Cycle Forum has been delighted to support Cllr Donna Jones in developing and launching this closed-road event. 

The event was wonderful and Portsmouth City Council must be congratulated on it. Cllr Donna Jones made the event possible and the team at PCC delivered a great event on a shoestring budget. The result was a real joy. Early estimates suggest around 3000 riders enjoyed the peace of a traffic-free seafront. In the words of one rider: “…it made you feel glad to be alive…! Roll on next year’s…!!”. We are looking forward to working with Portsmouth City Council to keep developing and promoting this event for years to come.

We now hope that Portsmouth City Council is able to look at ways of improving cycling on the other 364 days in the year. It’s sad to announce that figures released by the Department for Transport last Thursday show that once again Portsmouth is the most dangerous place in the country to ride a bike except for a few London boroughs. The number of cycle casualties increased from 906 per million in 2013 to 942 per million in 2014. The 2013 figure itself was an increase on the 2012 figure of 832 per million. The trend is depressingly upward.

Portsmouth City Council must capitalise on the success of this event and take positive action to tackle this horrifying number of cycle casualties. We would like the City Council to commit straight away to developing a comprehensive Cycle Safety Action Plan – the first step on the path outlined in ‘A City to Share’.

We would love to work with Portsmouth City Council to develop a cycle-friendly transport system fit for the 21st century. A City to Share has been recognised at the National Cycle Planning awards as one of the best in the country and the city can exploit that to win government funding. Portsmouth Cycle Forum is already working with Flick Drummond MP to do exactly that – we hope Portsmouth City Council will fully support us.

Thankyou PCC for a great day out, let’s build on it and create a better future for Portsmouth.

A Day Out in Town

Last Monday three members of the Portsmouth Cycle Forum took a trip to the big city to attend the National Cycle Planning awards. This was the inaugural year of the awards and we were shortlisted in the category of ‘Best Strategy’ for A City to Share. As the only voluntary organisation to be short-listed in any category we were delighted just to be invited and it was a real step-up in the reach and impact of our campaign to get a better deal for Portsmouth’s Cyclists.

We didn’t win the award, that honour went to Southwark, but our document was praised as the only one to feature inclusivity as a core theme. It’s worth reflecting that Manchester and Birmingham, two entrants for best strategy that didn’t make the shortlist, were both recently in receipt of £22 million grants from the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition scheme. We’ve surely proven that our plans are as good, if not better, than those so perhaps now Portsmouth should qualify for DfT funding?

The awards ceremony itself was a great opportunity to network and we were able to build on existing contacts and make new ones. With keynotes from Philip Darnton (former head of cycling England), Andrew Gilligan (London’s Cycling Commissioner), Robert Goodwill MP (Minister for Transport) and Simon Smits (the Dutch Ambassador) it was a high profile event. It was fascinating to talk to the team from the University of Sheffield, who won the category for ‘Most Cycle Friendly Employer’. They have implemented some amazing schemes to get people cycling to work in the hilly north and have now reduced the mode-share of people driving to work to only one in five.

Protesters at Waltham Forest
Protesters at Waltham Forest

The day began with the launch of the mini-holland in Waltham Forest, which was disrupted by a small number of very noisy protesters. There were banners proclaiming ‘iron curtain’ and ‘prisoner in my own home’. All this despite the road closure being about 50 metres long with a short diversion around back streets. The only traffic that needs to be there is local, for residents, but before the changes it was a convenient route avoiding busy roads and lights for non-local traffic. We say well done to Waltham Forest council and the local councillors getting the flak for something that in a year or two every local shopping area will be demanding locally. An interesting note is that one of the strongest objectors before the scheme has now applied to open a pavement cafe! It’ll be interesting to see how the scheme beds in.

We can be very proud of the strategy we’ve developed and I’m looking forward to working with the Flick Drummond, the MP for Portsmouth South, in engaging with the minister to secure funding to make it happen. We’ve shown that our plan is every bit as good as those that have attracted substantial funds so there is every reason to be optimistic. I hope Portsmouth City Council will be committed to working with us in putting together an ambitious, forward thinking bid.

Finally, we’d like to express our gratitude to Cycle-Works Ltd and the Community Cycle Centre, who between them paid for us to attend the awards ceremony. Cycle-Works funded the three delegate places (not an insignificant cost!) and the Community Cycle Centre paid for our travel costs. Cycle-Works is a Portsmouth based manufacturer, reseller and installer of all types of cycle parking racks and stands. Cycle-Works was the first specialist cycle parking company in the UK and had been operating since 1996.

Cycle-Works Banner

It’s All About the Money

As some people may have heard, Portsmouth Cycle Forum was featured on Radio Solent last week. I was interviewed by Jessica Parker, in pouring rain, on a bike ride around the city. The interview was prompted by the short-listing of ‘A City to Share’, the cycle strategy we developed for Portsmouth, in the national Cycle Planning awards.

In the interview we covered a number of issues about cycling in Portsmouth, and the challenges that need to be overcome if we’re to implement ‘A City to Share’. You can hear my interview here.

What was exciting in the broadcast, though, was a later interview with Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond. Since her election Flick has become a member of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group and has been working to get Portsmouth connected to the central government funding streams for cycling.

You can, for the next week or two, listen to Flick’s interview on BBC iPlayer (it’s about 1 hour 41 minutes in to the programme). She is calling for Portsmouth City Council to put together an ambitious bid to fund serious improvements to our cycling infrastructure. Her ambitions for cycling seem far in advance of those in Portsmouth City Council and we’re hopeful that she can help the city make significant improvements to cycling.

We are meeting with Flick later in September so we’ll keep you posted on what happens.

Being short-listed for the best strategy in the National Cycle Planning Awards can’t hurt us. We’ve already been short-listed ahead of Manchester and Birmingham, cities whose strategies have won them multi-million pound grants of cycle city ambition funding. The award ceremony is this Monday and it’s rumoured that the minister for cycling, Robert Goodwill MP, will be in attendance. What better way of showing him that Portsmouth has great plans for cycling?

Win or not we’ll still be working hard to get a better deal for bikes in the city. The nice words politicians gave us before the election in support of our strategy now need to turn into actions. Thats’s what we were calling for in our meeting last week. A City to Share identifies specific actions that must be taken to improve cycling and we’re calling on Portsmouth City Council to start work on those actions.

Pedal Portsmouth

Southsea Seafront
Southsea Seafront

Southsea Seafront will become a traffic-free paradise for cycling and walking on Sunday 27th September. The Pedal Portsmouth event is the culmination of a whole series of rides that have been developed by Portsmouth City Council in partnership with British Cycling and Portsmouth Cycle Forum.

The idea for a closed-roads event came from the leader of Portsmouth City Council, councillor Donna Jones in her enthusiastic response to the launch of ‘A City to Share’, Portsmouth Cycle Forum’s community developed cycling strategy for the city.

A four mile stretch of the seafront will be closed to traffic between 11am and 3pm on the 27th September. This will give people of all ages and abilities the freedom to enjoy the seafront, its amenities and their bikes. It will be the perfect opportunity to discover, or rediscover, the joy of cycling.

So, get yourself down to the seafront on Sunday 27th. Bring your bike and bring your family – everyone will be able to enjoy the read in safety. Just remember it is a relaxed, social event so there’s no need for speed. Stop for a coffee or an ice cream and enjoy the day.

Let as many people know about it as you can. Make sure this is a success for PCC and for all the businesses in the area. Who knows, it might mean it happens regularly in the future.

See a map of the traffic-free roads here.

Open Meeting – September

Public Bike Hire in London
Public Bike Hire in London

The next Portsmouth Cycle Forum open meeting will be held on Thursday 10th September at the John Pounds Centre, the doors will be open from 6:45pm for a 7pm start. Everyone is welcome to our open meetings, whether members or not.

Agenda Items

  • A City to Share has been shortlisted in the ‘best masterplan’ category at the national cycle planning awards. We’ll be discussing how to get the actions in the strategy implemented. Chris Ballingall will be calling for volunteers to help him take the ‘Transport’ theme of the strategy forward.
  • Cllr Ken Ellcome –  the councillor in charge of Traffic and Transportation – will give us an update on Portsmouth City Council’s programme. He will also be able to respond to questions and explain the actions PCC plans to undertake to implement ‘A City to Share’.
  • We’ll review how the state of the art for cycling infrastructure has moved on in the UK, looking at the latest developments from London and elsewhere in the UK.
  • We’ll have an update on the Wheels4All project, which has been opening cycling up to disabled people with a range of specially adapted bikes supported by volunteers.
  • And of course we’ll be talking about Pedal Portsmouth, the closed roads cycling event that will be held on the sea front on the 27th September.

The John Pounds Centre is just off Queen Street (map). Hope you can make it, the more people we can involve in our campaign the better.

Us and Them

The Portsmouth News today leads with the story of a man who was attacked by a gang of people because he was a cyclist. I heard about the story yesterday when the journalist rang me to ask me my thoughts, which he included in the piece. As ever though, I was caught on the hop when he called and there is much I wish I’d said.

Let me start by jumping back a couple of weeks. At the end of May the ‘You and Yours’ programme on Radio 4 ran a piece on cycling with the tagline ‘have you ever been put at risk by a cyclist?’ There followed a predictably bellicose selection of contributions from various disgusted citizens demanding taxation, regulation and preferably abolition of cycling.

This is a typical treatment of cycling in the media and is a symptom of a depressing ‘us and them’ approach to cycling and cyclists. Cyclists being, most definitely, ‘them’. Cyclists are portrayed as a lawless, dangerous out group. People not like ‘us’. Not decent people at all. In fact they are portrayed as something akin to vikings. Rapacious outsiders here to destroy society.

This portrayal is, of course, nonsensical. The problem though, is that reason and fact don’t cut through the hysteria that is created by these stories. Calm, rational contributors like Chris Boardman point out that cycling is a huge benefit to society and that people being hurt by a cyclist is incredibly rare. These reasonable voices are lost in the clamour.

My view is that the sad end result of all this is a poor guy getting beaten up in Southsea for riding a bike and wearing hi-viz clothing. He’s a cyclist. He’s one of them. Let’s get him. The cheap media furore painting cyclists as nothing more than an anti-social menace ends there. A guy getting hit with a vodka bottle.

Its time we got past this ridiculous ‘us and them’ nonsense. We can never have a grown up debate about fixing our cities until we do.