Category Archives: Campaigns

Seafront Defences Planning Application

The planning application for the whole of the seafront sea defences was submitted in late July with responses due by 6 September, and in the next few weeks it will be considered by the city council planning committee. We’ve been involved with some of the consultation and we’d like to see what’s best for cyclists, without adversely affecting other users of the seafront.

Although we recognise the need to improve our sea defences we are disappointed that the designers have not committed to a genuinely safe cycle route along the seafront. Portsmouth City Council’s Seafront Masterplan envisages a continuous cycle route from Gosport ferry to Hayling ferry. The coastal defences do not cover this length in full, but where they do, we expect them to provide a route fit for purpose.

The plans show some very modest improvements on what we have today, but some of their plans make cycling more hazardous, or less enjoyable, with little separation of bikes and cars. They have also failed to do anything about the existing problem faced by cyclists of having to switch sides at several points along the seafront. You can read our response in full below:

PCF response 1901097FUL.

Who will you be voting for?

It’s election time (again). 3 out of every 4 years Portsmouth holds local elections and so, 3 out of 4 years we hold a hustings event to find out what each of the parties plans to do to tackle safety for people on bikes in our City.

This year we teamed up with Portsmouth Friends of the Earth to broaden our challenge to candidates; asking not only “what will they do for cycling” but, knowing that our City is breaching air pollution levels, what will they do to improve air quality? For us, these two go hand in hand – but what did the candidates think?

Just to set the scene, let’s remember that of over 205,000 residents;  one third travel car-free, the level of cycling is much higher than the national average, everywhere in the City is within a 6 mile (or 30-45 minute) cycle and short commuter distances compared with the rest of the South East: 62% are under 5km. There are five train stations, three ferries, a hovercraft, and two bus companies, and 126,500 cars and one of the worst levels of air pollution in the country.

Representatives from the Lib Dems, Labour, UKIP, Conservatives and Greens were in attendance, along with a newcomer from the National Health Action Party. Each had 15 minutes to set out what they would do to answer our call. And, with a few exceptions, the answers were surprisingly similar.

Most of the candidates recognised the “Climate Emergency” motion recently declared at Cabinetpledging to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, but it is clear that if we stick with the status quo, the target will be missed. Portsmouth politics is on a knife edge, with relatively few votes deciding the leading party of the day. These discourages the bold politics that is needed to achieve this goal and clean up our air and our streets. They won’t get there quickly enough if they don’t pull together.

There are two examples of where more collaborative working across parties has led to some promising results. Compared to a few years ago, there now seems to be cross party agreement that there are too many cars in the City. This might sound glaringly obvious, but it’s taken a long time to get to this point. Cllr Lynne Stagg (the current Traffic and Transportation post holder) echoed the ex Mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa (renowned for introducing bus rapid transit and bike lanes in his City) in stating that no one has a right to a parking space. She also flagged a news article from the 1960s crying out that something must be done about the traffic. At that point there were 10,000 cars in the city. Now there are 126,500. All of the parties agreed that residents parking zones, in some form or another, should be used to limit and reduce parking levels, from a roll out of the existing scheme at one end of the scale, to whole car-free zones at the other. However, be afraid of proposals for using private car parks to supplement on street parking overnight – the only thing holding back even higher car use levels is surely the limited supply of parking spaces!

The parties also agreed that low emission vehicles (battery or hydrogen) were part of the solution. Some relied on them more than others, with the Green Party in particular recognising that air pollution from cars isn’t only tailpipe fumes but brake dust which might actually be worse with heavier electric vehicles. The Conservatives started on-street electric vehicle charging and the current incumbents have continued the roll-out.

To make the changes that are needed, long term planning (at least 20 years) is necessary. And with our short electoral cycles, cross party agreement on the means of getting there is essential. Without it, anyone bold enough to raise their head above the parapet with the types of policies that are needed could get voted out, and we’ll be back to square one. And let’s be clear, these policies focus on massively reducing our dependency on cars for all but essential use.

So, what other ideas did the parties have?

On buses, several parties discussed cleaner technology, including a solar bus station at Tipner (Lib Dems); subsidised services (against years of cuts), addressing pricing, and public ownership of bus services.

On electric charging, most parties said they would continue with on-street charging to encourage uptake of private electric vehicles.

On infrastructure, there was far too little mentioned. Some of the parties recognised our “A City to Share” document and spoke of the need for segregated cycle facilities and the benefits of bike hire schemes.

The Greens went the furthest, saying that they’d use the planning system fix the “mess”, bring in a tax on workplace parking and secure cycle storage and scrap the City Centre Road which in its current state would make cycling in and out of the city worse than it already is; and encourage even more people to drive into the city.

The Lib Dems said they’d grow Park and Ride and continue to look for a new location to serve the east of the City. But there was no mention of the mass overhaul in walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure that would be needed to help us kick the car habit in the timescale that’s required. Cllr Stagg also spoke about the recent “cough cough, engine off” publicity campaign and pester power as a means of encouraging better driver behaviour – but there is limited evidence that such schemes make an impact.

Labour said they’d reduce traffic coming into the city and make park and ride use compulsory on match days. The Conservatives echoed proposals for segregated cycle facilities and said they’d deliver the infrastructure to give people choice – and this is the rub – if people can choose to use their cars at a lower cost to themselves than taking public transport, or more conveniently compared to walking or cycling – why would they switch? The car “choice” has to be made less attractive. As Veronica Wagner from the National Health Action Party stated – we should be planning for people not cars.

Overall, all of the parties had some good suggestions, many of which overlapped, and many of which would be controversial to car dependant voters who currently have little option for travelling more sustainably due to limited public transport services and scary cycle facilities. What’s needed is a major investment; bigger, longer term plans, and crucially, cross party working, without it, it’s clear that more people will suffer ill health as a result of poor air quality, and we will not meet the Climate Emergency deadline of 2030, never mind the DEFRA air quality compliance deadline of 2021. So – a call to action. We’ve worked with all the parties in power over at least the last ten years, can they commit to cross party working for at least the next ten years? Can they agree to state openly that this City cannot take any more cars, and must provide better infrastructure for other modes? Can they do what is needed to give us our City to Share?

 

SOURCES
2011 Census (via nomisweb, Office for National Statistics)

https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/documents-external/trv-localsustainabletransportfund-pcc-bid.pdf

https://greenpompey.org.uk/let-pompey-breathe/

 

A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.”   Gustavo Petro, former Mayor of Bogotá, Columbia

 

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/879556-a-developed-country-is-not-a-place-where-the-poor

 

Coastal cycling: PCF responses to Council plans

There’s been a lot going on lately with three major consultations for us to respond to, so of course we’ve been kept pretty busy in making sure we know all the details, lobbying to make sure the planners keep cycling in mind.

1. Seafront Sea Defences
This is the consultation on the design of the sea defences which sets the parameters for future cycling infrastructure, although it doesn’t commit to any details. You can see more details in our previous post here. We weren’t very happy with this report because, as it stands, it effectively bans cycling along Southsea Esplanade in one direction as cycling infrastructure has given way to parallel parking. We’re assured that this isn’t the final design and that we’ll be involved in future discussions. One to keep a close eye on. Y

2. Seafront masterplan
This is the consultation on the aspirations for the seafront in the future and will become a supplementary planning document (SPD) that developers planning to build anything in the area will be required to reflect in their plans. You can see more details in our previous post here. This report is fantastic! It promises a ferry to ferry cycle route segregated from motor vehicles and pedestrians – bliss! However, it will be impossible to deliver if the sea defences don’t provide enough space.

3. Tipner
This is the consultation on future plans for Horsea and Tipner and includes houses, businesses and…a bus, cycle and car (access only bridge) between the two, providing a huge shortcut between Port Solent and Tipner. Our response to this is mixed – the report as it is focuses mainly on motor vehicle access and we’ll be following progress to ensure that the amazing opportunities for walking and cycling in this location are taken up right from the start of development.

Our responses to all three documents (attached) follow feedback from our members, and engagement with council officers through meetings and attending official consultation events. If you’d like to get involved in responding to consultations, or help by spreading the word to your local elected members, get in touch at [email protected]

PCF Coastal Defences Response Feb 2019

PCF Seafront Masterplan Response Mar 2019

PCF Tipner Plan Response Mar 2019

Streets for People

Our friends at Portsmouth Friends of the Earth have just published this report that sets out local people’s vision for Portsmouth streets as places that are people-friendly and not dominated by cars.

The report is based on comments from local people about their favourite streets, the horrors of others, and ideas for making their neighbourhood streets places where they want to walk, cycle, play, chat and sit.

They’ve passed this report to Portsmouth City Council in order to inform the new City Plan to create a safer and more pleasant city. We think it sits very nicely alongside our “A City to Share” strategy document which you can find here.

Seafront cycling – action needed now, now, now!

Just like the buses, there are no plans for ages, and then two come along at once.

Both the Southsea Coastal Scheme, and a new Seafront Strategy are currently out for consultation. Both require the immediate attention of cyclists.

These two documents offer a once (or twice) in a lifetime opportunity to improve our seafront and make it easier and safer for people walking and cycling to enjoy it for decades to come. Full details of both documents and how to respond are below, but in brief:

  • The first consultation is for the Southsea Coastal Scheme – that means the new flood defences. This consultation is effectively driving a planning application for the new landscaping along the length of Southsea seafront. The sea defences will define the space in which cycle provision has to exist, so it’s important we respond. The document does present road layouts which have been used for planning and design purposes – we understand that these layouts are not set in stone but they could present a ‘default’ so please consider how you think they work and feed back your comments.
  • The second is the seafront masterplan, which will set out how the Council plans to use all that new space. This document is of vital importance for cyclists, pedestrians, children and families and anyone who wishes to enjoy a clean, safe seafront.

This article sets out the difference between the two plans and how you can contribute your views. It’s vital that as many cyclists as possible make themselves heard.

Southsea Coastal Scheme

Who’s behind it? Portsmouth City Council, through the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership (ESCP)

Who is that then? The ESCP is a partnership of Local Authorities along the Eastern Solent area (including Portsmouth) and is made up of a small team of specialist coastal officers and engineers. Their aim is to protect us from coastal flooding. Quite sensible given the future projections for flooding of our island city.

What is the scheme? The scheme covers flood defences for Southsea Seafront. The ESCP has Central Government funding to deliver the defences. The project will change the look and operation of the seafront from Long Curtain Moat to Canoe Lake and the Rose Gardens.

What stage is the scheme at? This is the pre-planning consultation. There have already been two previous consultations at different stages over the last few years to gather views and priorities and preferences on a number of different options. The ESCP has sifted through all this feedback and now has one proposed scheme. They are getting final feedback to make tweaks before submitting a formal Planning Application to Portsmouth City Council.

Why is it relevant to cycling? Well….

Back in the late 2000s a segregated cycle lane was installed at the Eastney end of the seafront. This was contrary to the Council’s own consultation which showed overwhelming support for permitting cycling on the promenade. Everyone agrees that this scheme was a compromise.

The cycle lane was also meant to extend much further west to protect people riding bikes from cars as drivers reverse out of parking spaces to join the carriageway. But it didn’t happen.

PCF have pushed and pushed for improvements in this area and have always been told by the Council to hold tight and wait for the Coastal Defences scheme; that would be the opportunity to make the changes everyone wanted to see.

And now it’s here, and we’re not overly happy with what is proposed. The scheme (which you can see here) is still, by all definitions, a compromise.

  • At Long Curtain Moat, it’s not clear if cycling will be permitted in pedestrian areas
  • There are no improvements on Pier Road
  • There is no cycling provision at all in front of Southsea Common
  • Cycling could be allowed on the promenade by Southsea Castle and the Pyramids, although  it’s outside of the scope of the scheme to change the necessary by-laws to permit this so this won’t happen automatically
  • Cycling is shown as back on the road by South Parade Pier and Canoe Lake on the northern side, away from the sea
    There are no proposals to change the existing seafront cycle lane at the Eastney end
  • We should add that the document does not make any concrete statements on cycling at all, instead terms like “could” and “possibility” are used throughout which doesn’t give us a clear position on the proposals.

Whilst we appreciate the amount of work has gone into these proposals, it still feels very woolly. The ESCP’s consultations have shown clear support for improving walking and cycling, with respondents ranking those priorities much higher than providing for car parking – whilst we are pleased to see that, the plans do not reflect this for example, whilst there is no cycle provision on Pier Road or by the Common, there is plenty of car parking.

Public responses from 2014 show pedestrian and cycle access should be the top priorities.
Public responses from 2014 show pedestrian and cycle access should be the top priorities.

So, what’s next? We (PCF, and you individually) must respond to this consultation and, crucially, contact your local councillor to tell them your view. The deadline is FRIDAY 22ND FEBRUARY. We’ll be using our Facebook Group to ask PCF members for their views over the next week before forming a full PCF response for our 400+ members, but the more councillors hear from cyclists, the more likely we’ll see improvements. So please send your own response too – you can find out who your councillor is here. Here are some points you might like to include:

  • Clarity on what the proposals will actually do for cycling provision
  • Providing a continuous, coherent and safe cycle route that could be used by families with young children
  • Making any on-road provision safe by keeping cycling away from car doors and reversing drivers
  • Keeping traffic speeds low

Full information about the scheme is online at southseacoastalscheme.org.uk. You can email your response to [email protected] and [email protected].

There is also an online survey which you can complete here, although that doesn’t capture much information so we strongly recommend you also email your comments.

Southsea Masterplan Review

Who’s behind it? Portsmouth City Council

What is it? It’s a review of the existing Seafront Masterplan Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) which is a document to help developers understand what kind of development would be supported along the seafront. Whilst the Coastal Defence Scheme will only cover the defences themselves, this document covers everything else. The details of the scheme can be found here.

Seafront Masterplan: Proposed Walking and Cycling Map
Seafront Masterplan: Proposed Walking and Cycling Map

What stage is it at? It’s out for consultation until March 22nd. As before, it will help developers know what we want to see in this area in the future and will help the Council to secure financial contributions from developers towards things like cycling provision.

Why is it relevant to cycling? This document sets out how the seafront will be used and appears  to be very positive. It is very important that the Council receives support to prioritise public space and road layouts first for pedestrians, then cyclists, then public transport and finally for private cars.

Call to action

This document could set out how the seafront will be used for decades so it’s essential Portsmouth gets it right. Again, PCF will generate a response on behalf of our members but it’s really important that as many of you as possible respond individually. You can respond by completing PCC’s online survey here. This may limit what you can say so we recommend you also follow up by contacting your councillor.

Can you help us respond to planning applications in your area?

2019-01-15 11_15_25-City Centre Road Network - PCF Exec - Google Drive

Every month there are around five or six planning applications that we feel require a response from Portsmouth Cycle Forum to make sure that people riding bikes are considered when new developments happen where we are riding.

Responding to a planning application can seem daunting – but really it’s easier than it can first seem and a good chance to see democracy at work close up, and to make improvements to the area you live, city-wide and/or on your doorstep!

We’ve put together a handy guide to help you respond. If you’d like to get involved, email us at [email protected]

Check out the guidance on its new campaign page.

Cycle tube map

2019-01-15 11_38_02-PCF Tube Map March 2018 - Google Drawings

We’ve worked with our members, and Cycling UK, to put together a Cycling Tube Map.

The idea of this map is not for directions – it’s to highlight the quality of cycling links around our city so we can prioritise our campaigning and support members responding to planning applications.
The big idea is to turn the map blue (for Pompey of course). Routes marked blue are comfortable, and feel safe to our members. Yellow, orange, red and black show decreasing cycling quality – these are the areas we want to tackle.

Check it out on its new campaign page. We’ll keep it up to date as infrastructure changes, so let us know if you’ve spotted something that improves, or worsens an existing route.

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.