All posts by Nicola Waight

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.