Last week a lorry fire on the A27 brought Portsmouth to a standstill. The traffic delays caused by this incident quickly spread and paralysed traffic across the city. Buses were stopped. Ambulances were delayed. Appointments were missed. Families were kept apart. In short the health, wellbeing and economy of our city were on hold.
This was just the latest in a series of events that have exposed the fragility of Portsmouth’s traffic system. As you know too well, there are only three road routes in and out of the city and all run at near-capacity. A single incident on one is all that’s needed to create gridlock that lasts hours.
The number of cars coming in and out of our city is at an all time high and is forecast to keep growing. That means incidents like this will become more common. Maybe they’ll become weekly or even daily occurrences. In that situation the economy of our city will lose all viability and life for the citizens will be bleak.
This presents a serious risk to the future of our city. The traffic levels in our city are presenting a real hazard to us, the citizens. Air pollution is worsening and accident casualty levels are high bringing ill health and injury to far too many families.
The people of Portsmouth need you, our elected leaders, to come to grips with this problem. Our transport system no longer serves us and needs a radical redesign. The people of Portsmouth deserve a reliable, safe transport system. A transport system capable of supporting our economy in the future without putting us in peril.
Cycling is recognised as one of the cheapest, safest, fastest and cleanest ways to get around an numerous other cities have turned to the bicycles to transform their transport systems. They have found that the bicycle brought affluence as well as clean air and safe streets. It is so often said that Portsmouth is an ideal city for the bicycle that it has become a cliché. Yet little has been done to make it happen.
There will always be a need for people to drive but it should be much easier for people to make the choice not to. Well designed, convenient and safe cycle infrastructure will enable people to leave their cars behind when they are not needed. This will reduce the burden on the city’s infrastructure and benefit us all.
We are calling on you to act now. Plans need to be made now to fix our transport system. Major changes are planned for the centre of Portsmouth with the development of the Northern Quarter to name but one. 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.
The time has come to take action.
Portsmouth Cycle Forum