The number of cyclists injured on Portsmouth’s roads has worsened. Last year Portsmouth had England’s worst rate of cycle accidents outside of London. The number of accidents in which a cyclist is injured has now increased to 906 casualties per million of population from 832 per million in 2012. This is an increase of 9%.
By comparison, Waltham Forest, with the same population density as Portsmouth, had less than half our accident rate (429 per million). Southampton’s rate was also much lower, at 520 per million.
Over the last year Portsmouth Cycle Forum (PCF) has been working with the PCC’s Road Safety and Active Travel Officers, to understand why Portsmouth’s roads are so unsafe for cyclists. The results of this work have been presented at two well attended public meetings.
When PCF analysed the PCC’s worst 21 Cycling Casualty Hotspots, all but two were at junctions on Portsmouth’s A roads, with the A2047 being by far the worst. Seven hotspots were at roundabouts – where we found the designs fell well short of the DfT Recommendations, made back in 2008.
The remaining high cyclist casualty junctions were all T-junctions and crossroads, most without traffic lights. We found that most of these junctions were with linking roads used as rat-runs. With high-sided vehicles creating blind spots, this is a dangerous recipe for accidents to vulnerable road users.
Given the effect on people’s lives, casualty rates this high must be regarded as a failure of Transport policy. Jon Spencer, chair of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said “We call on the city council to recognise, following the lead of London and other cities, that cycling is now mass transport and must be treated as such. This will be a great step forward, too, in tackling Portsmouth’s severe Health and Environmental issues.”
“Cycling brings health benefits to the cyclist and to the city, and it frees up road space for those who really need it. Urgent action is needed to dramatically reduce these casualty figures. The people of Portsmouth deserve to feel safe when they choose to cycle. ”
Tom Hart, committee member of Portsmouth Cycle Forum added: “Proper provision for cyclists must be made on all of Portsmouth’s major cycling routes – and that means properly engineered cycle lanes. A little paint here and there will not bring our accident rate down to acceptable levels. “