Category Archives: Campaigns

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:

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

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.

Watershed moment as Portsmouth Council back Space for Cycling

UPDATE on Portsmouth City Council motion to support City to Share:  (from Cycling UK)

On Tuesday 17 October 2017, Portsmouth Council passed a motion to support the Space for Cycling campaign which commits the council to plan a comprehensive network of high quality cycleways and allocates a minimum of 10% of the local transport budget to ensure cycle routes are built.

For more info, please follow this link.

 

URGENT: Support Safer Cycling in Portsmouth

Portsmouth City Council motion to support City to Share: Tuesday 17 October.

Portsmouth City Council will be considering a motion to support City to Share on Tuesday at their full council meeting.  City to Share is the Portsmouth Cycle Forum document inspired by Leader of the Council Donna Jones’ challenge for us to produce a cycle strategy for the city.

We hope you also support this campaign so we can make Portsmouth a safer place for cycling for all of us now, and for future generations. We need to show how important this is an issue within the city. A properly designed and funded network of cycle routes throughout the city will help to cut congestion and pollution, improve journey times and personal health as it encourages those who believe the city is too unsafe for cycling to switch their preferred method of transport.

We’re calling for Portsmouth City Council to commit to a small percentage of the transport budget devoted to cycling infrastructure, increasing over the years to £20 per head.

The simplest way to do this is to show your councillors how much support there is. Cycling UK has produced a simple online webpage to allow you to send an email to your local councillors. This just needs some basic details about you to find your councillors.

Please follow this link.

We helped Cycling UK with the wording of the email so it has our support.  You can of course add your own words.

Open Meeting Report June 2017

Following the remembrance event in Guildhall Square, approximately 70 attendees cycled to the previously arranged regular open meeting at the University of Portsmouth Richmond Building as a show of support for their fellow cyclists in the city, led by PCF ride leaders.

Just as we were about to start, the late arrival of Portsmouth South’s new MP meant a swift re-arranging of the agenda, with Stephen Morgan addressing the room in what was his first visit back to the city since taking up his seat at Westminster at the start of the week.  He had rushed back south after his swearing in earlier that day, and we were happy to be his first appointment back.

He described how as a non-driver, he cycles around the city, is only too aware of the issues that confront those on two wheels on a daily basis.  At the start of the General Election campaign he announced his support for The City to Share strategy: https://stephenjmorgan.org/2017/04/27/citys-cycling-plan-backed/

Although it is only early days of his term, he took several questions that were mostly about local issues that highlight the dangers of cycling in Portsmouth, announced his intention to join the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group and will join our open meetings as often as he is able to.

We are very grateful to him for making the effort to get back for the evening and we look forward to working with him to improve the infrastructure, safety and perception of cycling in Portsmouth.

The first of our speakers for the evening was Darren Ord, the Traffic Inspector for the Eastern region of the Hampshire and Thames Valley Joint roads operation.  He is also leading the ‘Close Pass Initiative’ which made the headlines of the Portsmouth News in April:

http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/crime/watch-undercover-police-cyclists-capture-portsmouth-drivers-overtaking-too-close-1-7906436

Darren, who is a keen cyclist himself, explained they picked up on the Close Pass initiative following the success and publicity around operations carried out in the West Midlands. It targets vehicles that passed too close to cyclists – actually policemen in a number of cyclist attires.  It was felt that car drivers who do not cycle don’t usually look out for cyclists so may not see them.

So far 4 deployments across the Eastern region since April with 36 motorists have been spoken to and educated as to how and why they need to give space for cycling.  They are keen to encourage the education aspect of the initiative, but those not wishing to take advice will be asked to attend a driver awareness course or be issued with a fine, much like those drivers caught speeding.

Asked whether the next step of this approach would be to accept videos from the public that show potential transgressions as a number of forces now do, Darren said that there were future plans to improve ‘third party reporting’ from helmet-cams which is not perfect at the moment. We hope to see this be rolled out in due course though.

Twitter users can follow @HantsPolRoads for more information and to find out what future operations are being carried out.

We then received an update from Portsmouth City Council Active Travel officers on the current and new projects that are taking place.

The new network of Quieter routes has recently been launched and these consist of 10 routes (five north / south & five east /west) across the city that aims to target those less confident cyclists to navigate their way around the city, mainly using the 20mph residential road network.

It’s not a finished product, not every 20mph road is safer than 30mph roads, but the selected routes have been casualty-checked to ensure they run along the statistically safer roads. PCC are aware that there are issues, however some of these could not be addressed with the initial funding package. The scheme has now attracted further funding that can be used to make actual infrastructure improvements.

The current year of the Local Transport Plan has funding for the following projects:

  •      A2047 – Fratton / Kingston / London Rd improvements: 12 junctions get lines and surfacing, or raised tables and surfacing
  •      Bypassing gyratory at the north end of London Rd, to route cyclists across the foot/cycle bridge over the motorway at Peronne Road
  •      Stubbington Ave and London Rd Roundabout: slow traffic down, improve sight lines by increasing carriageway deflection

As part of the question and answer session at the end of the presentations, inevitably there were questions about the recent events that highlighted the dangers of cycling in the city.  It was explained the specific incidents could not be discussed as they were currently under investigation. However as a general rule, after every fatality, there is a meeting to discuss possible improvements to the location, and once the ongoing investigation is finished, there will be a requirement to explain how and what is going to happen to ensure the situation does not happen again.

We would like to thank all our speakers for attending, especially at an emotional time for many cyclists in the city.

The PCF open meetings in the autumn take place on Thursday 21st September and Thursday 16th November at 7.00pm.  Full details will be circulated once we have them confirmed.  To ensure you receive these please sign up to our email bulletins here: http://www.pompeybug.co.uk/newsletters/

Ian Saunders

Chair, Portsmouth Cycle Forum

The Darkest Hour is Just Before the Dawn

On Thursday 15th June 2017, over 200 cyclists gathered in the Guildhall Square in Portsmouth to remember one of our own, Tim Atkins who was killed on his way home from work on a sunny, bright and dry Friday evening when he collided with another cyclist on the Eastern Road cycle path and fell into the road in front of a moving vehicle.  It was a tragic accident for which none of the parties involved were to blame.

Tim’s sister Joanna wrote some moving words, read out on her behalf describing Tim’s “larger than life personality, his huge heart and infectious laugh” asking for immediate action to be taken to make the junction safe for all.

The incident took place on one of the busiest cycle routes in the city, the main cycle path onto and out of the city on the eastern side of the island.  It has proved to be inadequate and unfit for purpose, and so as well as remembering Tim, and also Andy Reeve who was seriously injured in an accident on the Fratton Bridge Roundabout 24 hours before Tim’s accident, also on his way home in similar weather conditions, the Portsmouth Cycle Forum also called for action to be taken by Portsmouth City Council to do better to protect cyclists across the city.  To act to reduce the persistently high cycle casualties that embarrass a city in which cycling is not only highly suitable, but a necessity given congestion and pollution levels.

We know cycling can be made safe, attractive and accessible to all even in crowded cities like Portsmouth. We know that if this is done then more people will choose to get around by bike, reducing the strain on our roads and benefiting us all. This incident has to be seen as the trigger point to do much better.  It’s a line in the sand, a point of no return.

It needs political, cross-party will to commit to long-term thinking, planning and funding to embed a culture where cycling is seen as just another method to travel around a densely populated city.  To create space for cycling, a city to share and to reduce the needless casualties that occur too frequently and scare those that might be encouraged to take it up to put their bikes back into storage.

However we need the everyday cyclists of this city not to let this go as well. To hold your elected representatives and the council officers to account to make sure they deliver. To report problems. To expect and demand better. To help us to improve the city.

You can see the whole of the 17 minute event via the Portsmouth News Facebook live video on their Facebook page here.

You can sign up to receive our email bulletins here.

Ian Saunders
Chair
Portsmouth Cycle Forum

A Time to Remember, A Time to Act

Last week two terrible incidents occurred that highlight the dangers faced by cyclists on our roads. On Thursday 1st June a cyclist was seriously injured on Fratton Bridge and remains in a coma. On Friday 2nd June a cyclist, Tim Atkins, was killed after falling into traffic on the Eastern Road after a collision with another cyclist.

Next Thursday we will be holding an act of remembrance for Tim Atkins and a call for action, a call for the city council to finally take strong action to address the safety problems that affect all cyclists across our city. Tim’s family are devastated, but they want to prevent such a terrible thing happening to another family so it’s with their support that we are holding this event.

We are calling for anyone who cycles or who cares about the safety of cyclists to gather in Guildhall Square from 5:30pm on Thursday 15th June. Starting at 6pm we will remember Tim and then call for action from the city council. We have invited council leaders and politicians of all parties to attend and answer our call. We will then cycle the short distance from the Guildhall to Richmond Building for our open meeting where we will be hearing from council officers and the police about some key cycle safety initiatives.

This event will be a respectful act of remembrance and a resolute, peaceful call for action. Please add strength to our message by coming along to the Guildhall next Thursday to pay your respects to a fellow cyclist, show your support to his family and to add strength to our call for action. We call for all cyclists, commuters and racers, shoppers and tourists, tricyclists and tandemists to come and let the city council hear our call for safer streets and A City to Share.

The time for action is long overdue, we need you to come along and make sure our voice is heard. Tim was a father, a brother, a son, a partner. Someone who loved and was loved. We cannot tolerate his needless loss and we could not bear for this to happen again. We demand action now to make our streets safe for all cyclists.

Tim’s sister, Joanna, wrote this about her brother:

Tim Atkins, a devoted family man, a son with a heart of gold, a brother, uncle, father, partner and friend to everyone.
Someone who would do anything for anyone, if he knew you for years or hours… it didn’t matter, Tim would come to the rescue and help you, always putting your needs before his own.
Tim could turn his hand to anything, a avid upcyler of pallets to make just about anything you could think of, a sci-fi writer, a computer whizz, it’s probably quicker to to list what he couldn’t do than the extensive list of skills and qualities he has. ex-pub landlord with a cracking sense of humour, love for life and an even greater love for his daughter, who was his world.
His passion for all of the above was above and beyond that of anyone else I know.
Our family and everyone that knew Tim will miss him beyond belief, for me personally, his ‘lil sis’, this has left a huge hole in my heart and the life of myself, his nieces and nephews, I will never get over this tragedy that could so easily have been prevented, taking the life of my loving brother.

See you on Thursday. Please help us promote this by sharing this article or by sharing this Facebook event.

Death in the Afternoon

It is with the greatest sadness that we have to report the death of one cyclist and injuries to two more in the last two days. On Thursday evening a cyclist was hit by a driver on Fratton bridge roundabout and had to be airlifted to hospital in Southampton, where his condition is reported as ‘critical but stable’. Worse was to come on Friday, as two cyclists collided on the Eastern Road cycle path, apparently causing one to fall into the busy traffic where he lost his life and the other to fall into the hedge that narrows the path.

We have long campaigned for improvements to cycle safety in Portsmouth, but sadly our worst fears have come true. The sites of both accidents are well known problem sites and both have been discussed with officers at Portsmouth City Council, but sadly no meaningful action had been taken at either site to prevent the tragic events of the last two days.

The Eastern Road cycle path is one of the most important cycle routes in the city but it has a number of serious safety problems. In some stretches – including the area of Friday’s accident – it is too narrow for two cyclists to pass each other safely. This is compounded by a blind bend next to the entrance to the Harvester pub. This section of the route is shared use meaning it is intended to take both cyclists and pedestrians in both directions, yet it is too narrow in places even for pedestrians to pass each other comfortably. The high hedge on one side and fast traffic on the other mean there is no room for error at all.

There are parallels here with another important route in and out of the city, on Hope Street in the city centre. It is surely only a matter of time before a similar incident takes place there. As with the Eastern Road, the Hope Street path is narrow, carries two way cyclists and pedestrians, has an impenetrable barrier (the dockyard wall in this case) on one side, has fast traffic a kerb-width away on the other side, has a dangerous blind bend and is frequently obstructed by lamp columns and sign-posts.

We have been warning Portsmouth City Council about the state of the Eastern Rd and Hope Street paths since our Strategic Cycle Routes report of 2009. The part of the Eastern Road path where Friday’s tragic accident took place has been discussed with council officers this year, after members of the forum reported head on collisions and near misses with other cyclists there. The site is at the junction of two of the council’s recently launched ‘Quieter Routes’ which are supposed to offer safe routes to less confident cyclists.

The accident on Thursday took place on Fratton bridge roundabout, where the cyclist was hit by a car entering the roundabout. This roundabout has four two-lane entry points, the design creates a high traffic density, with vans and lorries creating multiple blind spots. In such situations drivers looking right for gaps in fast-moving motor traffic then accelerating onto the roundabout find it easy to miss cyclists ahead, the cyclist remaining unseen until impact. On a roundabout like this serious collisions are a certainty, it’s just a question of when and how often.

PCC has worked on Fratton bridge roundabout recently but no change was made to the dangerous layout, which was highlighted by us in 2014. The roundabout lacks safe, attractive alternative routes for cyclists in all directions, meaning that in some cases cyclists are forced to use the main carriageway. This roundabout is also on one of the new ‘Quieter Routes’, although that route uses the toucan crossing that exists on the northern leg of the roundabout.

These two incidents indicate the hazards cyclists can face on the roads of Portsmouth. The weather on both evenings was perfect and all three cyclists caught up in the horrible events should have been able to expect a pleasant and safe journey.

Portsmouth remains the most dangerous place to cycle in England, excepting a few parts of London. This has been the case for the last five years at least but there has been little meaningful action from Portsmouth City Council, in spite of our efforts. There has been almost no investment in safe cycle infrastructure, with the budget the council had being spent on ‘soft measures’ (meaning activities and events to encourage people to cycle) and signage. It is time for that to change. Urgently.

A welcome to 2017

A happy new year to our members and subscribers. So what will 2017 bring the cyclists of Portsmouth?

As a result of winning some Government funding, the new Quiet Routes that PCC have been working on since last summer should soon be released.  PCC hope that by identifying 20mph roads, a network of routes can be created that are quieter and safer for those less confident cyclists to travel around the city.  This is a welcome initiative assuming that the routes are advertised and easy to follow once on your bike.

In conjunction with this work, an audit of all the cycling infrastructure routes and facilities has been undertaken by PCC, identifying the existing lanes, paths and parking that exist in the city.  This information – together with the quiet routes initiative – will form the basis for a new Cycling map for Portsmouth.  We will be studying this in great detail to identify the gaps in provision and work to improve areas that we believe do not serve cyclists to the extent that they should.

To that end, three of our committee members are attending the Cycling UK workshop day in London in late January to learn more about the computerized cycling tools that were demonstrated to us by Roger Geffen at our open meeting in November.  Our intention is to ask our paid-up members at our AGM in March to then identify areas in Portsmouth that can be targeted for future development.

However, most of the traffic congestion is down to the sheer numbers of vehicles on the road. To make a real improvement in congestion, pollution and journey times for everyone, the city needs to get people out of their cars, and reduce the barriers that stop people using a bike to travel around.

We need to identify and push to develop the routes that commuters might like to use.  Ideally, these should be fast, consistent, road-quality cycle lanes that are segregated from both road traffic and pedestrians with priority boxes at junctions and specific phasing on the traffic light system to aid safe resumption of one’s journey. The new lane is Goldsmiths Avenue appears to already have made a difference to traffic flows in the area for both vehicles and bikes.  There’s no reason why having set a precedent there that other roads that have double yellow lining should not also be similarly marked with cycle lanes.

Copnor Road has space at the northern end to install segregated cycle lanes similar to those created recently in Brighton.  With some extra shared path they could link up to the pedestrian bridge across the A27 into the Highbury estate and onto Cosham, encouraging those to the north of the city to cycle to work in the way that the Southampton Road and Langstone Harbour paths do from the west and east.

The perception of cycling in Portsmouth is that it is dangerous, and the official figures only back this up this impression.  For the fourth year in the last five, Portsmouth ranks as the most dangerous city in the UK for cycling casualties. Ours is twice the rate of the London Borough of Waltham Forest, which has a similar population density to Portsmouth. Islington has a population density three times that of Portsmouth, and yet the cycle casualty rate is slightly lower.

The improvements in London with the installation of cycle lanes and mini-Holland schemes, the latest of which recently opened just the other end of the A3 in Portsmouth Road, Kingston-Upon Thames, proves that if the infrastructure is invested in, it is used and improves participation.  A year on from its opening, and Waltham Forest’s much opposed mini-Holland scheme has seen traffic levels in 12 key roads in the “village” area of Walthamstow fall by 56 per cent, or 10,000 fewer vehicles a day.  The most vocal business owner opponent of the scheme, has now opened up a coffee shop in his building.

These improvements are within the scope of Portsmouth City Council.  However, as the cycling community, we need to build the pressure to improve things in our favour.  Imagine Mini-Holland schemes during business hours around Cosham High Street, Albert Road or Palmerston Road – the latterly is effectively already installed – making the areas more pleasant to negotiate whether on foot, public transport or bike.

The re-development of the island’s flood defences over the next decade gives us the opportunity to create a true coastline leisure cycle trail to allow exploration of areas visitors may never discover.

Work on the western side next to Hilsea Lake from the Mounbatten Centre to Portsbridge Roundabout will start this spring, necessitating the closure of the much-used shared coastal path.  Work is due to take three years, and there are plans to install a temporary cycle lane along Northern Parade.  We are asking the council whether they are aware just how well used that path is.  Not everyone will be confident enough to rode on a busy road, and so this appears to be an ideal opportunity to trial a segregated route on what is one of the wider roads on the island. And if it proves to be popular, why should it not remain installed after the work adding to the cycle infrastructure in the city?

With no local elections in the city due in 2017, the pull of the ballot box to appeal to voters has disappeared and some experimental schemes could be trialed, monitored and evaluated to see whether they work. Who knows, perhaps they may even lead to a reduction in the casualty figures?

But we can only do so much as a committee of volunteers.  As much as we lobby, badger, cajole and complain at councilors and officers, we need help to keep the issues at the forefront of their minds in every transport and planning decision they take.

And it is with the creation of that bigger voice where you, the regular cyclist comes in.  We need your support.  We’d like you engaged in the process.

Bring to the attention of the council officers poor road surfaces or junctions that endanger cyclists.  Enlist the support and lobby your ward councilors directly to improve our facilities and infrastructure.

In the event of an accident, ensure it is reported to the police, as official casualty figures are an important way to maintain the pressure on the local politicians to develop space for cycling.

Encourage the next generation getting on their bikes wanting to emulate Mark Cavendish or Lizzie Armitstead to use the roads safely and confidently, to be seen, and to respect other road users and pedestrians.

And please consider supporting or becoming a member of Portsmouth Cycle Forum.

I look forward to seeing you at one, or more, of our 2017 events or out on the road enjoying the freedom cycling can give you.

Tailwinds to all….

 

Ian Saunders

Acting Chair, PCF

January 2017

Open Meeting – Making Space for Cycling (UK)

Our next open meeting will take place at 7pm on Thursday 17th November.  The venue will once again be LT2 in Richmond Building at the University of Portsmouth. We’ll be joined by Roger Geffen MBE, Policy Director of Cycling UK. Many of you may remember Roger, who last joined us in January 2014 to talk to us about CTC’s national campaigns. CTC has since transformed the more campaign focussed Cycling UK.

Cycling UK is preparing for a second phase of its national Space for Cycling campaign, in partnership with local campaign groups.  It aims to create better places for everyone, by enabling people of all ages and abilities to cycle for any local journey.  As well as enabling members of the public to call on councils to commit to planning high-quality cycle networks – and to finding the funding these will require – we are also creating a Space for Cycling toolkit.  This will support local campaign groups and councils to work constructively together on planning local cycle networks and prioritising schemes, using a suite of IT tools and crowd-sourced data. This will strengthen the hand of local campaigners – as local authorities seek their support for their funding proposals – while boosting their credibility, their visibility in the local media, and their supporter base.

This should be a really interesting meeting and a great chance for us to engage with Cycling UK’s national campaigns and to use them locally to help us make cycling work for Portsmouth. Put the date in your diaries.

October 2016 – what a month!

Our interim Chair, Ian Saunders writes: as October comes to a close, it’s been quite a month for the cyclist in Portsmouth.

On the positive side of the equation we had a successful Pedal Portsmouth Glow ride last weekend on the closed roads along the seafront while the Great South Run was using the space. The Petersfield to Queen Elizabeth Country Park cycle track has finally been completed, and Ned Boulting’s one man show ‘Bikeology’ came to the New Theatre Royal to discover his thoughts on cycling culture and cyclists and experiences of the Tour De France over the last 15 years he has worked on it.

There has also been some new infrastructure ‘installed’ along the east bound Havant Road, although depending on who you speak to and their previous experiences, the addition of paint is either a positive or a negative in terms of giving space and creating awareness of cycling. And that’s just the cyclists!

However it is all overshadowed by the release of the cycling casualty figures for the UK, and Portsmouth’s place at the top of table of the worst cities to for cycle safety. Jon Spencer has outlined the salient points on our website here and although the figure of 888 per million of population is down from 2014, it is not coming down fast enough. Therefore we are now writing all PCC councilors and the city’s MPs to get them to commit to halving the accident rate by 2020 as was outlined in our City to Share strategy presented to them two years ago.

Amongst the recent news stories about cycle casualties, traffic congestion, and new infrastructure being planned and installed, we’ve seen comments from the Council Leader and her head of Traffic and transport, but not the cabinet post holder for the department. Six months into his tenure, we are yet to hear publically of Councillor Fleming’s plans on how to combat congestion and pollution in the city, other than increasing the fees for the third parking permit at an address.

A good place to start might be our next Open Meeting on Thursday 17th November, and he would also be able to hear Cycling UK’s Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen MBE talk about the second phase of their national Space for Cycling Campaign which will call on councils to commit to planning high-quality cycle networks, and to finding the funding these will require. Perhaps then we can start to reduce the unnecessary accidents on our roads.

And related to that final point, the clocks go back this weekend (October 29th), so the mornings and evenings will be darker and he days will (probably) be duller and greyer as we arrive in winter. Please ensure that you use your lights while cycling and ensure you are seen.

Cycle Casualties 2015

The Department for Transport has recently released road safety statistics for 2015 and once again Portsmouth is shamed by the rate at which cyclists are hurt on our roads. We have the worst rate of cycle casualties of any city in England. A few London boroughs do have a worse casualty rate but taken as a whole London is safer than Portsmouth. Portsmouth also topped this unenviable league in 2014, 2012 and 2011.

Portsmouth’s cycle casualty rate for 2015 was 888 per million of population. This is very slightly better that the 2014 figure, but this is likely to be no more than a statistical blip. The city’s leaders have taken no concerted action to address road safety, despite our exhortations, preferring to wring their hands and claim there is little they can do because Portsmouth is such a crowded city.

This excuse does not stand up to close examination. England’s most densely populated area, Islington, is nearly three times as crowded as Portsmouth. Islington has a population density of 14,517 people per square kilometre compared to 5,141 in Portsmouth and yet the cyclist casualty rate is slightly lower in Islington with a rate of 882 compared to 888 in Portsmouth.

Waltham Forest, which has recently implemented a ‘mini-Holland’ scheme of cycle infrastructure improvements has a population density of 6,849 people per square kilometre. This is a third more than Portsmouth and yet the cyclist casualty rate is only 409, less than half the rate in Portsmouth. This goes to show what can be achieved with good infrastructure, even in densely populated areas.

It’s time our leaders recognised that this is happening on their watch and it is their problem to solve. It is not a dry statistic to be regretted and ignored, these are the residents of our city being hurt (or worse). Each of these casualties represents a day, week, month or even lifetime ruined or lost. Even minor accidents can have a huge effect on the victims, as the case studies at the end of this piece show.

It is past time to start taking cycle safety seriously. The city is gridlocked and desperately needs people to get out of their cars, but people are understandably put off by the danger on our streets.

For too long Portsmouth City Council has been putting in a token effort at cycle safety. That has to change. We are calling on councillors to commit to halving the cycle casualty rate by 2020. Their first step has to be proper funding for road safety and to recruit a world-class traffic engineer with expertise in cycling infrastructure to lead on it.

It is the first responsibility of government in a democratic society to protect and safeguard the lives of its citizens. Cyclists are citizens and the government of our city is currently failing us. Now is the time to act. It’s time to lift the city from it’s humiliating position as the most dangerous city for cyclists in the UK.

Read Simon’s story
Read John’s story

Sources

ONS Population Density Map
DfT Accident Statistics for 2015 (Table RAS 30045)

Anyone up for a challenge?

Portsmouth Cycle Forum needs a chair. I’ve been proud to serve as the chair of Portsmouth Cycle Forum for the last three years but work and family commitments are making it impossible for me to continue.

The chair’s role is to lead our campaign and act as a focus for improving cycling in the city. It’s been an honour (and I don’t say that lightly) to serve as chair and it’s with enormous regret that I’m stepping down. I do, however, intend to continue to serve on the committee to support the new chair.

I announced my decision to step down as chair at our AGM and at our Open Meeting in April. Unfortunately a volunteer was not forthcoming to replace me so I agreed to continue for an interim period of three months whilst a new chair was sought. That three months has nearly passed and I fear, as I have less time to steer the campaign, that things are drifting and momentum is being lost.

I’m hoping that there is an enthusiastic volunteer out there, willing to come forward and lead the forum on the next step of its evolution. We’ve done some great work developing a transport plan for the city in A City to Share and that’s ready to be taken forward.

Portsmouth desperately needs a strong cycle forum to hold politicians and local authority officers to account. Portsmouth is a city made for cycling yet it’s one of the most dangerous places to cycle in the UK.

A strong cycle forum needs a strong leader. Could that be you?

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

 

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

Call for funding for A City to Share

At the meeting of the  Full Council meeting today, 9 February,  Portsmouth Cycle Forum made a deputation calling for some of the £3.5M transport budget to spent on cycling.

The proposed budget for of  2016-2020 includes major repairs to the Eastern Road  bridge and to upgrades to traffic lights throughout the city yet nothing to implement the aims of PCF’s strategy document “A City to Share”

The deputation was written by PCF Chairman Jon Spencer and delivered by Vice-chairman John Holland,  The text is as follows.

“I am here to ask you to commit some of your transport budget to implement A City to Share, the cycling strategy developed by Portsmouth Cycle Forum at the leader’s behest.”

“The city has become woefully congested and there are rightful concerns that this will put off visitors, residents, events and investors. This problem has been widely discussed and the proposed budget includes a £3.5M investment to attempt to relieve the problem.”

“We are asking councillors to remember that transport is about moving people, not vehicles – connecting customers to business and keeping the lifeblood of our economy flowing. Portsmouth’s roads are at capacity and there is just no space for the increased movements of people that will be required to grow our economy. Spending £1M on smarter phasing of traffic lights can’t address this fundamental problem.”

“£1.8M of your £3.5M investment will be on remedial works to the Eastern Rd bridge. This in itself will offer no new transport capacity unless widening of the narrow, obstructed pedestrian & cycle path is included. This is the major cycle route into the city and this section falls woefully short of DfT standards. It is not accessible to disabled cyclists and at times can be frightening to use. It is common practice in The Netherlands to add cycle capacity to older bridges by adding new cantilevered paths at each edge. This is comparatively cheap and will create a gateway for cyclists worthy of our city.”

“What is needed is a smarter, cleaner, cheaper and more space efficient way to move people. People on bikes take up far less space than people in cars and so many more people can be moved. If more journeys can be made by bike, and less by car, then everyone wins. We reduce the congestion and get a healthier, happier and more productive city into the bargain.”

“This won’t happen by itself though. Throughout the city roads need to become more attractive and forgiving to cyclists. This is not hard to do – many, many cities have gone down this path before us and achieved transformational results. The plan to do this exists in A City to Share, a document that has been praised and supported by politicians of all parties. So we’re asking you to turn those words into action and used some of your proposed transport investment to fund the implementation of A City to Share.”

“There is more to cycling than big ticket events. The city needs to be made fit for purpose for everyday cycling and we ask for PCC to commit to that. We need the bread and butter of safe and easy everyday cycling before we can enjoy the cake of the Tour de France.”

“The MP for Portsmouth South, Flick Drummond, has been pushing central government to support A City to Share. We’d like you to support her. We are asking you all to build cycling into your plans, allocate funding to implement the goals of A City to Share, prioritise improvements for cyclists (for example to the Eastern rd bridge) and to crucially to formally adopt the targets presented in A City to Share, including halving cycling casualties by 2020.”

A City to Share may be downloaded from acitytoshare.org.