Category Archives: Campaigns

Open Meeting Thursday 12 February 7pm – Making Space for Cycling

Making Space for CyclingThe next meeting of Portsmouth Cycle Forum will be at 7pm on Thursday 12th February 2015 in Park Building, University of Portsmouth on King Henry I Street – just behind the Guildhall (map). The meeting will take the form of a debate, discussing we make the main routes in Portsmouth safe and welcoming for cyclists? Portsmouth has an exceptionally high rate of cycle casualties and most of these casualties occur on major roads which have 30mph speed limits.

Our recently launched cycle strategy, A City to Share, proposes that road space be reallocated from motor vehicles to bicycles to enable a step-change improvement in cycle casualty rates and the number of people getting around by bike. Exactly what changes need to be made to find and repurpose that road space were not specified.

For this meeting we have invited our members to propose ideas for how these 30mph roads can be changed to make them safer and more attractive for cyclists, whilst still offering good motor vehicle access to the city. We will pick out 3 or 4 ideas for short presentations on how to eliminate conflict between cyclists and motor vehicles on Portsmouth’s 30mph routes – each idea will then be opened to debate.

We hope that you will be able to come along and contribute.

Private Hire vehicles in bus lanes – A statement from Portsmouth Cycle Forum

Bus lane sign

A decision to allow private hire vehicles (PHVs) into bus lanes in Portsmouth has been deferred by Cllr. Ken Ellcome.  The proposal was opposed by Hackney Carriage drivers, a local bus operator, Sustrans and Portsmouth Cycle Forum.  Road safety professionals in Portsmouth City Council also advised against it.

PHVs and taxis provide affordable door-to-door transport, an invaluable service, but being a professional driver in Portsmouth is very challenging. The city is increasingly congested and competition for fares among over 1750 registered PHV & Taxi drivers is intense, making driving a tough way to make a living.

Portsmouth Cycle Forum were opposed for good reason, as there is a serious safety concern.  There is a disproportionately high level of accidents between minicabs and cyclists in the city, a figure that is much higher than in other cities, and police data shows that the most common cause is driver error.

Portsmouth Cycle Forum chairman Jon Spencer said:

“Portsmouth has a major congestion problem, so we need to develop attractive alternatives to private car use.  The bus lanes which are used by cyclists and taxis are a foundation of this and to open them up to more vehicles will be a huge backwards step, making the roads much less attractive for cyclists and ultimately leading to worse congestion.  We wish to work constructively with all parties to make Portsmouth a safer and more pleasant place for all.”

At the suggestion of the Leader, Cllr Donna Jones, Portsmouth Cycle Forum has published a discussion document called “A City to Share” which sets out a vision of a city fit for the future. It’s free to download from acitytoshare.org.

The next Portsmouth Cycle Forum open meeting is on Thursday 12 February at 7pm at the University’s Park building.  There will be a debate on how to make the main routes in Portsmouth safe and welcoming for cyclists. Members of the public are welcome.

Minicabs in Bus Lanes – Decision Due Thursday

The issue of whether or not Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs), often called minicabs, should be allowed to use bus lanes will be decided at Thursday’s meeting of the Portsmouth City Council (PCC) Traffic & Transportation cabinet. Portsmouth Cycle Forum are against the idea, as we’ve previously explained, and we’re reassured that the officers at PCC agree with us and have recommended that the prohibition on PHVs in bus lanes continue. The officer’s report is here.

We sympathise with PHV and Hackney Carriage drivers who are under great commercial pressure and whose ability to do business is greatly impacted by congestion. It is this congestion, which is having so many detrimental effects on the city, that must be tackled. Cycles, buses and both types of taxi all have an essential role to play in that.

Our current position opposing PHVs in bus lanes is based on facts. The safety record of taxis in Portsmouth is extremely poor (as a report from PCC illustrates) and until this is much improved permitting PHVs in bus lanes cannot, in our view, be considered. It would lead to an increase in accidents and an increase in fear of accidents: in short it would put people off cycling, resulting in more cars on our roads and more congestion. In other words, it would be counterproductive at best; dangerous at worst.

The decision will ultimately be made by the Conservative Cabinet Member for Traffic & Transportation Cllr Ken Ellcome. In the run up to that decision the issue has become extremely contentious. Portsmouth Cycle Forum created an event on facebook, to invite cyclists to attend the decision meeting.  This event  was joined by a number of drivers. Contributions from a small but vocal minority quickly sank to the level of insults and threats of violence.

We’re proud to say that cycle forum members all kept their cool in this discussion and explained their views with calmness, intelligence and patience, highlighting our shared goal of a less congested city that would benefit cyclists and taxis alike. We also recognised that this discussion was being dominated by a vocal (and regrettably aggressive) minority of PHV drivers who were doing their peers no favours, so, we took the decision to close it down.

We hope that PCC can work with the taxi trade to improve it’s safety record. Until then, especially given the aggression displayed by a minority of drivers, it’s not appropriate to consider allowing PHVs into bus lanes.

The decision will be made at a public meeting of the Traffic & Transportation Cabinet on in the Executive Meeting Room on Floor 3 of the Guildhall. The meeting is at 5pm on Thursday 5th February.

Private Hire Vehicles in Bus Lanes

PHV using cycle lane
A PHV making creative use of cycle-only lights on Flathouse Road

Portsmouth City Council is considering allowing Private Hire Vehicles to use bus lanes. To use technical terminology, a Taxi is a Hackney Carriage, and a Minicab is a Private Hire Vehicle (PHV).  A Hackney Carriage licence allows the driver to pick up fares on the street, and a few other perks, for example, in Portsmouth, Taxis may use bus lanes, but PHVs ay not.  Recently it has been proposed that PHVs should be allowed to use Bus Lanes.  In addition to buses and taxis, bicycles are also permitted to use bus lanes.

You may know that Portsmouth has more cycling accidents per capita than most other cities, but it may surprise you to learn that (according to PCC figures) Taxis and PHVs are responsible for a disproportionately large number of cycling accidents.  Taxis and PHVs represent just under 0.9% of registered vehicles, but are involved in 8% of all reported cycle collisions: and whilst cyclists make up only 4.7% of traffic in Portsmouth, they account for 21% of Taxi/PHV related casualties.  Disturbingly, the most common contributory factor is the “driver failing to look properly”.

Allowing PHVs into cycle lanes would result in more occasions when cyclists and PHVs are in close proximity, and thus increase the likelihood of cyclist casualties in the one place where they currently have some protection from general traffic.  Portsmouth Cycle Forum therefore conclude that in its current form this proposal is a terrible idea.

You can read our full response here: PHVs in Bus Lanes – PCF Response.

New Goals for the New Year: Big dreams and big miles

Tommy Godwin, Year record holder (source Tommygodwin.com)
Tommy Godwin, Year record holder (source Tommygodwin.com)

As 2014 sputters to an end and its last moments are vomited into the gutters of Guildhall Walk it’s a suitable moment to pause, reflect and plan. We’ve come a long, long way in 2014 and put cycling into the mainstream of political debate. In 2015 we need to capitalise on that. What we’ve achieved so far amounts to fine words and promises. Those are fine things but they count for little unless they are acted on.

2015 is a year for big goals and big achievements. It’s little known but in 1939 Tommy Godwin set the record for the most miles cycled in a year, covering some 75,065 miles. Tommy took only one day off during the year (despite the outbreak of World War 2) and that was to go to Buckingham Palace to meet the Prince of Wales once he’d passed the previous record. Tommy’s record has long been thought unbeatable. Well, in 2015 somebody’s going to try it.

Steve Abraham is one of the UK’s most accomplished long distance riders. He’s given up his job to try and break Tommy Godwin’s record in 2015. Starting on New Year’s day Steve will be cycling every single day of 2015, aiming to cover on average more than 205 miles per day. He’s operating on a shoestring budget so if you can support him (either financially or practically) then check out his website.

My personal goals are more modest – but still a big stretch for me. 2015 will see the 18th edition of the four-yearly Paris-Brest-Paris Randonnee. This 1200km event must be completed in a strict time limit (90 hours for me) and is something I’ve aspired to do for many years. I missed the 2007 event (broke my back) and the 2011 event (serious illness) so I’m determined to make it to the start line in 2015. I’ll have to qualify in 200, 300, 400 and 600km events first so 2015 will be a year of big miles.

So what about Portsmouth Cycle Forum? Big challenges for experienced cyclists aside, what about the challenge of getting more people riding bikes to go about their everyday business? How should Portsmouth Cycle Forum Challenge itself to make equally long steps towards that goal?

How about a cross-party group of politicians, council officers and stakeholders (like us) charged with achieving a shift from the private car to sustainable transport?

How about a dedicated budget to develop safe cycling infrastructure?

How about a commitment from PCC to double cycling and halve cycle casualties in the next 5 years?

How about the redevelopment of PCC’s transport policy to incorporate the ideas expressed in A City to Share?

Let’s make sure we build on our achievements in 2014 and make real change happen. There are challenges ahead – more budget cuts and reorganisations at PCC not least among them – but there are also opportunities. There are elections, general and local, and we need to get cycling on the agenda.

Remember that every single day next year Steve will be out there on his bike, rain, sun, hail or snow. Let’s take that indomitable spirit as our example. Let’s push ourselves as we push for change. We’ll need your help.

Happy new year to one and all.

A City to Share – follow up with Donna Jones

pcf-city-strategy-portrait-hr-thumbOn Tuesday 2nd December Portsmouth Cycle Forum also met with the leader of PCC, Cllr Donna Jones, and the Cabinet Member for Traffic & Transportation Cllr Ken Ellcome to follow up on the launch of our cycle strategy, A City to Share.

In attendance were Cllrs Jones and Ellcome, PCC Head of Traffic & Environment Simon Moon, Assistant Head of Traffic & Environment Marc Griffin, British Cycling Southern Region Recreation Manager Jo Downing, Sameen Farouk (a key contributor to the strategy development) plus Jon Spencer and John Holland of Portsmouth Cycle Forum.

Cllr Jones’s immediate focus was on the development of a major cycling event in the city. It’s too early to announce what that is but it could be very exciting and commit PCC to year-round support for cycling for several years to come. Cllr Jones also committed to engage with the minister for cycling, Robert Goodwill and minister for Portsmouth, Matthew Hancock to find out how Portsmouth can be reconnected to the main stream of cycling funding that it currently seems excluded from.

I was particularly pleased to hear that Simon Moon is planning to redraft the city’s LTP3 policy partly in response to our strategy. LTP3 is really the main body of transport policy for the city and much of the city’s transport funding comes through it. So that is a really, really positive development. He also committed to work in partnership with Portsmouth Cycle Forum in doing that.

Useful discussions were had about how to further raise the profile of the strategy with neighbourhood fora and businesses. We maybe seeking volunteers to help with that soon. There were two key issues we raised in writing following the meeting as we had run out of time:

  1. PCC officers are currently working up an EOI response to the DfT Cycling Delivery Plan. Given the unfortunate failure of the Cycle City Ambition and, more recently, LSFT2 bids it is obviously vital that this EOI meets a positive response. We are very keen to support the development of Portsmouth’s EOI response in any way we can.
  2. Plans to redevelop the city’s coastal defences are now well advanced, with the first section covering a long section of Southsea seafront open for consultation. In the past, whilst campaigning for the western part of the seafront cycle route, we were assured that when the new coastal defences were built that would be the opportunity to improve cycling on the seafront. Unfortunately, any cycle provision is absent from the plans now presented. It seems a shame to spend circa £20 million on this stretch of the seafront and do nothing to solve the long standing problem with cycling here. If we do hold a high-profile event then the seafront is an area I’m sure we’d love to include. It will be a real pity if a once-in-a-generation opportunity to introduce some attractive, safe cycling facilities on the western seafront has been missed.

There is a consultation running right now on the coastal defences if you’d like to have your say – check our article which will lead you to it.

Thanks to the Councillors and officers for their time. We look forward to some speedy progress.

A Short Tour of Portsmouth

Our Route
Our Route

Cycle Forum committee members Jon Spencer and Mike Dobson took a cycle tour of the city on Monday night Portsmouth City Council’s Assistant Head of Transport Marc Griffin and Active Travel Officer James Roberts. Along for the ride was Simon Pratt, regional director of Sustrans. The aim was to review the current cycle provision in the areas visited and we plan to take more rides to cover other areas in future.

The areas we covered were:

  • Guildhall Walk. Difficulty of accessing narrow contraflow cycle lane to Winston Churchill Ave. Convoluted routes mean many cyclists take illegal shortcuts across pavements in this area.
  • King’s Rd / Museum Rd roundabout which seems to assume that cyclists will always turn left.
  • Insufficient cycle parking on Osborne Rd.
  • Difficulty in entering the redesigned Palmerston Rd South. This allows cyclists to ride contraflow but there isn’t room for them to enter if vehicles are using the junction.
  • Shipwright’s way grass / mesh cycle path on Common near Duisburg way. Unlit, rough, wet, slippery. Wholly unsatisfactory.
  • Pier Rd / Clarence Pier. Lots of road space. No cycle provision at all despite a fatality here in 2010.
  • Clarence Esplanade – complete lack of cycle provision. Westbound cyclists passing close to rear of echelon parked cars. A highly dangerous configuration.
  • South Parade / A288. Cyclists forced fo cross and recross to reach A288 where they will shortly be forced to cross again to reach seafront cycle route.. No provision at all at South Parade.
  • A288 / St Helen’s parade. Sweeping left turn onto St Helen’s parade encourages drivers to take the bend at speed. If a cyclists is heading straight on along the Esplanade they can routinely expect to be overtaken and cut up by left turning vehicles.
  • Seafront Cycle Route. One of the best cycle routes we have but sadly below par. The route is narrow at its widest, but frequently further narrowed by island bus stops. These are hard to see in the dark and have caused accidents where cyclists have ridden into them.
  • Henderson Rd. Seafront Cycle Route ends abruptly and cyclists have to cross two lanes of traffic on a poorly sighted bend. This is often obstructed by illegally parked vehicles.
  • Bransbury Park. Narrow route, obstructed by hard to see low bollrads and a very narrow chicane at the North End. This is the first part of a quiet route from the seafront to the Eastern Rd which is unsigned.
  • Route through St James’s Hospital to Eastern Rd. This is a quiet route to connect the Eastern Rd and the seafront. It is potentially at risk from the redevelopment of St James’s hospital. It works well if you know the city well, but would be impossible to find and follow for a visitor. Many twists, turns, and give way points.
  • Eastern Rd cycle path. Issues with narrowness – especially in segregated sections where it is impossible for two cyclists to pass without one crossing the line. Poor surface, unlit sections hidden behind trees put off female cyclists. Lack of waiting space at crossings, e.g. Tangier Rd. Very difficult & dangerous junctions (e.g. Anchorage Rd).
  • Eastern Rd bridge. Very narrow and difficult for two cyclists to pass. Proximity of high speed traffic make this intimidating. At night the problem is worsened by the glare of headlights from oncoming vehicles.
  • Farlington Roundabout. Extremely convoluted & time consuming route for cyclists. Encourages risk taking.
  • Eastern Rd Rail Bridge. Narrow route further narrowed by bus stops. Hard to used junction at Walton Rd where cyclists is expected to turn 90 degrees in about a metre of space.
  • Tudor Cres / Peronne Rd Bridge. Excellent Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians over A27 but very difficult to access from the South.
  • A2047 Coach & Horses Gyratory. High speed traffic often turns across cyclists. Inconsistently marked bus lanes. One of the most dangerous spots in the city.
  • A2047. The most dangerous Rd in the city. Bus lane part way southbound, nothing northbound. Narrow and very busy and highly congested by legally and illegally parked vehicles.
  • Fratton Rd / Victoria Rd N roundabout. Convoluted and time consuming route for cyclists. Crossing of Fawcett Rd unclear and off road route on Victoria Rd N very narrow. Markings on cycle crossing of Victoria Rd N have been burnt off.

This was a really useful opportunity to explain in detail why some of the infrastructure in the city fails to encourage cycling. We’d like to extend our thanks to Marc, James and Simon for taking the time out to do this.

The future of Southsea’s coast – consultation

Storm tide in SouthseaA CITY TO SHARE includes accessibility for all to our coast and heritage. The proposed new flood defences for Southsea seafront present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to complete a missing section of the seafront cycle.

Do you want a cycle route along the seafront between the two piers so that you and your family can cycle without fear of being squeezed or reversed into? The consultation has a question on cycling so it’s important to respond.

See the link for details of the consultation roadshows or study the plans online. Don’t forget to fill in the feedback form to answer that knotty question!

The consultation closes on 29 December 2014.

www.escp.org.uk/…/future-southseas-coast-consultation

A City to Share – UPDATE

A City to Share
A City to Share

Read the full document at acitytoshare.org – join the debate on twitter using the hashtag #acitytoshare

On Monday 3rd November Portsmouth Cycle Forum will launch “A City to Share”, its strategy to put safe cycling at the heart of Portsmouth’s transport policy.

The proposal will  be presented to city leaders at a launch event hosted by the University of Portsmouth. It sets out a vision for the city where there is space for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians to co-operate with each other and treat one another with courtesy and respect.

Cllr Donna Jones invited Portsmouth Cycle Forum to propose improvements to transport in the city, following an open letter it wrote to the council in August 2014. The challenge now handed back to all local leaders in the strategy is how to work together to deliver these changes.

“A City to Share” sets out a vision where cyclists and pedestrians who live, work, study and visit Portsmouth can be safely accommodated alongside drivers. The strategy aims to deliver a steep reduction in the number of accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians by changing the way the streets are designed.

This means cost-effective interventions to make cycling a viable alternative to the car as it has in other thriving cities like York, Bristol and Cambridge.

Jon Spencer, Chair of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, comments: “Only about 4.6% of commuting journeys in Portsmouth are made by bike, which is significantly lower than the 16% seen in Cambridge. We believe that with the right infrastructure in place Portsmouth could be an ideal city for cycling, and aim to see the percentage of commuting journeys rise to 10% by 2020, and 20% by 2025.”

“Making changes to the city to enable many more people to cycle safely will benefit everyone. It will bring great benefits to the health, wealth and wellbeing of the whole city. The people of Cambridge are fitter, healthier and longer lived than the people of Portsmouth and we’d like to see Portsmouth catch up.”

Ian McCormack, University of Portsmouth Environment Manager, said “The university supports the initiative of the cycle strategy for the city of Portsmouth, which will benefit students and staff.”

British Cycling’s campaigns manager Martin Key said “British Cycling wants to see more people on bikes. We can inspire people to cycle but what will really make the difference is if we make cycling a more desirable way of getting around. This strategy has the vision and ambition to make to make the city a healthier, happier and more active place to live.”

The strategy focuses on the recognised potential benefits for the community in Portsmouth. These include:

  • Health – Regular physical activity like cycling for short trips will help address obesity and ensure the people are healthier for longer.
  • Economy – Shoppers who mainly visit through walking, cycling or the bus will visit more shops and more frequently supporting local high streets. This relies on addressing road safety to help overcome fears of cycling in Portsmouth. Reducing congestion will benefit all businesses.
  • Liveability – Improving safety and reducing traffic along residential roads to support cycling will help children get to school and visit nearby friends. As more people switch from travelling by car to walking or cycling, it will reduce the demand on scarce parking spaces in the city.
  • Environment – The primary source of air pollution in Portsmouth is motor traffic. When residents in the city switch from cars to cycling to make short trips, it will help reduce the estimated 600 preventable deaths a year in the city due to air pollution.

By working together with residents and businesses in the city, the council can start to address the vision through key practical interventions it can start to deliver immediately such as:

  • Establish a cross party sustainable transport working group to oversee delivery of the strategy goals;
  • Consult on and deliver a cycle safety action plan to address the level of cycle accidents;
  • Allocate resources to assess the suitability of cycling provision in each neighbourhood to augment the Portsmouth Plan;
  • Research options to create space for cycling on main routes;
  • To work with public transport operators in Portsmouth to consult on how to support the increasing number of customers who switch to cycling in the city after disembarking in Portsmouth;

The strategy will be presented at a public meeting of the Portsmouth Cycling Forum on Thursday 13th November 2014 in Room 0.08 of Park Building, University of Portsmouth on King Henry I Street.

Footnote

Inevitably printing and promoting the strategy comes at a cost. If you’d like to make a donation to help us fund it we’d be delighted and eternally grateful. The fundraiser page is right here.

BBC One Inside Out

Cycling in Portsmouth
Cycling in Portsmouth

Cycling in Portsmouth was the subject of a 10 minute film shown in BBC One’s regional ‘Inside Out’ show last Monday. The piece focussed on cycle safety following the recently published DfT accident statistics for Portsmouth which show us as being one of the least safe places to cycle in England.

The BBC film presents a good balanced view and features input from Portsmouth Cycle Forum, Portsmouth City Council and many cyclists and motorists. The show is currently available on BBC iPlayer (until next Monday) in case you haven’t seen it.

In the film PCC’s spokesman Oliver Wilcocks expresses the view that on many urban streets there simply isn’t room for cycling without demolishing houses. We’d like to take issue with this – cycling is more space-efficient that any form of transport other than walking after all. The issue – and the elephant in the room – is that car parking and car-friendly carriageways have been retrofitted to roads across the city and used every bit of space.

It seems obvious to say that the number of private cars driving and parking on Portsmouth’s streets has reached critical levels. Portsmouth needs to use its space better and that means more cycling. Cycling gives space back.

Portsmouth’s Cyclist Accident Rate Increases by 9%

The number of cyclists injured on Portsmouth’s roads has worsened.  Last year Portsmouth had England’s worst rate of cycle accidents outside of London. The number of accidents in which a cyclist is injured has now increased to 906 casualties per million of population from 832 per million in 2012.  This is an increase of 9%.

By comparison, Waltham Forest, with the same population density as Portsmouth, had less than half our accident rate (429 per million).  Southampton’s rate was also much lower, at 520 per million.

Over the last year Portsmouth Cycle Forum (PCF) has been working with the PCC’s Road Safety and Active Travel Officers, to understand why Portsmouth’s roads are so unsafe for cyclists. The results of this work have been presented at two well attended public meetings.

When PCF analysed the PCC’s worst 21 Cycling Casualty Hotspots, all but two were at junctions on Portsmouth’s A roads, with the A2047 being by far the worst. Seven hotspots were at roundabouts  – where we found the designs fell well short of the DfT Recommendations, made back in 2008.

The remaining high cyclist casualty junctions were all T-junctions and crossroads, most without traffic lights. We found that most of these junctions were with linking roads used as rat-runs. With high-sided vehicles creating blind spots, this is a dangerous recipe for accidents to vulnerable road users.

Given the effect on people’s lives, casualty rates this high must be regarded as a failure of Transport policy. Jon Spencer, chair of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said “We call on the city council to recognise, following the lead of London and other cities, that cycling is now mass transport and must be treated as such.  This will be a great step forward, too, in tackling Portsmouth’s severe Health and Environmental issues.”

“Cycling brings health benefits to the cyclist and to the city, and it frees up road space for those who really need it. Urgent action is needed to dramatically reduce these casualty figures. The people of Portsmouth deserve to feel safe when they choose to cycle. ”

Tom Hart, committee member of Portsmouth Cycle Forum added: “Proper provision for cyclists must be made on all of Portsmouth’s major cycling routes – and that means properly engineered cycle lanes. A little paint here and there will not bring our accident rate down to acceptable levels. “

Open Meeting Report

St Mary's Rd / Milton Rd Junction
St Mary’s Rd / Milton Rd Junction

Portsmouth Cycle Forum held another well attended open meeting on Thursday 11th September. The meeting was very kindly hosted by the Southsea Coffee Co and we’d like to thank them very warmly for their generosity. We were delighted to welcome Claire French of Portsmouth Evening News to the meeting and are delighted that she published an article about the meeting the very next day – rather faster than we’ve managed.

Asha Lal of Portsmouth City Council gave an overview of the Wheels4All project. This aims is to give access to cycling via adapted bikes to those with physical and mental health issues, who could not manage to ride a conventional bike. They take individuals and groups and train them to use the bikes, usually for a day. The project is based at Bransbury Park and has lottery funds lasting up to July 2015, with the intention of opening another site at Mountbatten Centre. The project is run purely to give training on the adapted bikes and their insurance does not allow for the equipment to be taken off site.

The main focus of the evening was for Tom Hart to present our research into cycle safety in Portsmouth. Tom’s analysis identified the 21 most dangerous spots in the city and looked at the common factors:

  • 19 of the 21 Cycling Casualty Hotspots are on Portsmouth’s notorious A-Roads, with many being intersections with linking routes and rat runs.
  • High traffic volumes combined with split-second manoeuvres across fast traffic flows, predictably result in high casualties.
  • Driver’s error or reckless behaviour, are the most common contributory causes to these accidents, yet only three of these 21 junctions are controlled by traffic lights.
  • Seven roundabouts were casualty hotspots. Roundabouts are the most dangerous junctions for cyclists, with casualty rates up to 15 time higher than for car occupants! These roundabouts show widespread deviation from DfT’s recommendations, designed to ensure motorists navigate roundabouts with care.

Tom’s presentation is available for download here.

The evening concluded with a wide-ranging debate of cycle safety. Once again PCC’s assistant head of service for Transport and Environment, Marc Griffin, gave up his evening to attend and provided much useful information to the discussion.

A full report of the meeting is here.

Biking is better for you and better for us

Cycle Commuting in Copenhagen
Cycle Commuting in Copenhagen

It’s often said that Portsmouth is the ideal cycling city being flat, compact and temperate. We spend a lot of time tackling the issues that may stop people from getting their bikes out – mainly the fear of traffic and the fear of bicycle theft. It’s worth remembering that despite all this the benefits of cycling far outweigh the hazards.

The BBC is reporting today that researchers fro the University of East Anglia have found that active commuters, like cyclists, felt better able to concentrate and under less strain than when travelling by car. The study took place over ten years and drew on data from 18,000 commuters.

Those who had an active commute were found to have a higher level of wellbeing than those who went by car or public transport. The physical health benefits of cycling are already well known and this study reinforces the idea that there are positive psychological effects too. When researchers analysed the wellbeing of a small group who swapped the car or bus for a bike or going on foot, they found they became happier after the switch.

In Portsmouth there is a huge and growing public health problem. Obesity rates and consequential diseases are on the rise. Long term health problems from air pollution are growing – and research from King’s College, London shows that pollution levels are highest inside vehicles.

So come on Pompey. It’s time to get on your bikes to beat the bulge and beat the blues. Cycling will make you healthier and happier and the whole city cleaner and and better to live in. What’s to stop you?

An Open Letter to Councillors

A27 Lorry Fire
A27 Lorry Fire

Dear Councillors,

Last week a lorry fire on the A27 brought Portsmouth to a standstill. The traffic delays caused by this incident quickly spread and paralysed traffic across the city. Buses were stopped. Ambulances were delayed. Appointments were missed. Families were kept apart. In short the health, wellbeing and economy of our city were on hold.

This was just the latest in a series of events that have exposed the fragility of Portsmouth’s traffic system. As you know too well, there are only three road routes in and out of the city and all run at near-capacity. A single incident on one is all that’s needed to create gridlock that lasts hours.

The number of cars coming in and out of our city is at an all time high and is forecast to keep growing. That means incidents like this will become more common. Maybe they’ll become weekly or even daily occurrences. In that situation the economy of our city will lose all viability and life for the citizens will be bleak.

This presents a serious risk to the future of our city. The traffic levels in our city are presenting a real hazard to us, the citizens. Air pollution is worsening and accident casualty levels are high bringing ill health and injury to far too many families.

The people of Portsmouth need you, our elected leaders, to come to grips with this problem. Our transport system no longer serves us and needs a radical redesign. The people of Portsmouth deserve a reliable, safe transport system. A transport system capable of supporting our economy in the future without putting us in peril.

Cycling is recognised as one of the cheapest, safest, fastest and cleanest ways to get around an numerous other cities have turned to the bicycles to transform their transport systems. They have found that the bicycle brought affluence as well as clean air and safe streets. It is so often said that Portsmouth is an ideal city for the bicycle that it has become a cliché. Yet little has been done to make it happen.

There will always be a need for people to drive but it should be much easier for people to make the choice not to. Well designed, convenient and safe cycle infrastructure will enable people to leave their cars behind when they are not needed. This will reduce the burden on the city’s infrastructure and benefit us all.

We are calling on you to act now. Plans need to be made now to fix our transport system. Major changes are planned for the centre of Portsmouth with the development of the Northern Quarter to name but one. Portsmouth needs a plan to put sustainable transport at the heart of these plans and to come up with a joined-up strategy for sustainable transport. Portsmouth Cycle Forum is eager to work with councillors to improve travel in Portsmouth and support sustainable growth.

The time has come to take action.

Jon Spencer
Chair
Portsmouth Cycle Forum

PCC agrees changes to Palmerston, Osborne & Henderson Roads

Cycle Forum makes deputations to Portsmouth City Council meeting

At the longest Traffic and Transportation Decision Meeting in living memory on 24 July, decisions on four proposals were reached and not all of them popular with the audience.

Henderson Road

The least contentious proposal was for traffic calming in Henderson Road, Eastney which is long, straight, wide and has a frequently flouted 20 mph speed limit. Contrary to the recommendation of the officers, Cllr Ken Ellcome, Cabinet member for Traffic and Transportation, agreed to press forward with a hybrid scheme with the involvement of local residents and ward councillors. Cycle Forum Secretary and resident of Henderson Road spoke in support of traffic calming to deter speeding motorists.

Palmerston and Osborne Roads

More contentiously, the southern section of Palmerston Road from Osborne Road to Villiers Road will be re-opened to northbound traffic as opposed to being fully pedestrianised. Cycle Forum chairman, Jon Spencer, made a deputation stating that whichever option was selected then the road should remain open to people riding bicycles as it is today. This scheme was funded by central Government with the aim of improving connectivity of walking and cycling to the south of Southsea town centre and to improve the experience for pedestrians in the form of a pedestrianised zone. Banning cycling would certainly be contrary to the spirit of the funding. The changes will be temporary with a review after 12 months.

Osborne Road is to get a make-over with planters, widened pavements, new bus stops etc but no changes to traffic flows.

And finally – Residents’s Parking Zones MB and MC

Despite nearly 20 people speaking against the proposed changes and not one member of the public speaking in favour, Resident’s Parking Zones MB and MC will be suspended from 1 September tor an experimental period. Strangely, Cllr Ellcome chose an option which was not listed in the report to the meeting – it had been proposed to suspend MC and change the hours of operation for MB. The reasons for the decision were stated as being that of parking displacement caused to other areas. Anyway, this is not a cycling issue although the quieter streets of Central Southsea will once more become cluttered with vehicles making cycling less attractive.

With 206,000 residents in Portsmouth, 110,000 registered vehicles and  the prospect of 40% more by 2040, this new administration has yet to show any signs of addressing the needs of the citizens of the future. Gridlock will happen – it’s just a matter of time.

Open Meeting Report

Community Speedwatch
Community Speedwatch

We had another successful public meeting on 10th July with presentations from Hampshire Police and Portsmouth City Council. The meeting was held at the John Pounds Centre in Portsea.

Maria Joliffe of Hampshire Police kindly stepped in late in the day to present on community speedwatch. Community speed watch is an initiative that allows citizens to volunteer to operate traffic speed monitoring equipment. The volunteers record speeding motorists who will then receive a letter exerting them to mend their ways. No fine can be issued but it does enable police to identify areas that may need enforcement by officers.

Concern was expressed that enforcement of cycling offences is done by paid professionals whereas speeding – which is a factor in many more casualties – is being enforced by volunteers. However, if you’d like to get involved volunteers are currently being recruited in Portsmouth. Contact us through the contact us page and we’ll put you in touch with the right officer in the civic offices.

James Roberts – Portsmouth’s new active travel officer – described the work the Portsmouth City Council team are doing and what they are planning. He talked about the physical challenges in the city to getting people to travel actively. Recent successes include the Cycle Hub, new cycle parking, the Park and Ride and wayfinding boards. They also propose to improve Pilgrims Way. James is responsible for all rights of way in the city.

James’s presentation is available to view / download here

Oliver Willcocks – Road Safety Officer at Portsmouth City Council – then took the floor to explain how PCC is tackling the very high rate of cycle casualties in the city. The focus is on KSI – Killed, or Seriously Injured (i.e. requiring at least one night in hospital). There is a high proportion of accidents involving taxis and private hire vehicles, even allowing for their numbers. OW produced a large number of statistics and analysis. His priority is the A2047 London Road/Fratton Road as this has 35 casualties per mile (the city average is 9/mile). Improvements include moving back Give Way lines and surface treatment at junctions to indicate to motorists presence of cyclists.

Oliver’s presentation is available to view / download here

Once again Clr Ellcome, now the cabinet member for traffic & transportation, attended the meeting. Cllr Ellcome explained that previously he was in the police traffic division so he has experience in road safety. He noted he has to deal with cyclists, taxis and buses, often with conflicting views, but he has regular briefings with stakeholders. He noted that the department has had a £1million cut. The My Journey funds will finish in April 2015 although they are applying for an extension. Cllr Ellcome committed to updating the Portsmouth City Council cycle strategy.

Read the formal minutes of the meet here

Meeting with the Leader of PCC

Cllr Donna Jones
Cllr Donna Jones

On Wednesday 25th June members of the Portsmouth Cycle Forum Committee met with the new leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Donna Jones, and her cabinet member for Traffic & Transportation Cllr Ken Ellcome.

The purpose of the meeting was to ask PCC to develop a strategy for cycling, both to address immediate issues, like the shocking casualty rates on our roads, and a long term plan to develop cycling in the city.  We presented them with copies of the Copenhagen cycle strategy as an example.

Attendees from Portsmouth Cycle Forum were Jon Spencer (chair), John Holland (vice chair), Rich Boakes and Tom Hart (committee members).

Points & Actions Arising

  • Donna Jones seemed very taken by the Copenhagen Strategy brochure and was keen that PCC should have a Cycling Strategy. Also, that this should be meaningful, not window dressing. She hoped Ken Ellcome would agree.
  • She said she intended meeting the mayor of Bristol at a forthcoming conference, to discuss Bristol’s experience. She said it was a subject she knew little about. Action: Cllr Donna Jones.
  • Ken Ellcome said he would add it (cycling strategy) to his to-do list (along with 30,000 other items).
  • Ken Ellcome noted the electoral position of car owners and the perceived intransigent nature of the Portsmouth road network.
  • He did, however, say he was pushing through a cycle lane on the north side of Havant Rd.
  • He also said he was happy to consider quick-win cycling safety suggestions from PCF, provided these were not expensive. Action: PCF, if we wish.
  • We discussed last Strategy doc (to 2010) and we offered to review this and suggest to Ken parts that could be included again. This was welcomed. Action: PCF.
  • We also agreed to provide details of Waltham Forest, Hackney and other London boroughs that were forward-thinking on cycling. Action: PCF.

Observations and Conclusions

  • Donna Jones is clearly interested in launching a new Cycling Strategy
  • At same time, she seemed serious in agreeing that it needed to be a credible piece of work
  • Ken Ellcome, as he said, has a lot of competing interests clamouring for his attention, plus taking actions on cyclists’ behalf is guaranteed to give him a headache from motor vehicle users.
  • So, our lobbying and use of the Press, needs to be continuous and high-profile, to keep councillors focused on addressing the Cycling Safety agenda.
  • Overall, a good meeting, with initial positioning achieved.

Open Meeting: Safer Cycling in Portsmouth

Cyclist HGV Incident Hilsea
Cyclist and HGV Incident in Hilsea

Do you cycle in Portsmouth? Perhaps you would like to cycle in Portsmouth but are nervous about the roads?
Last month Portsmouth Cycle Forum revealed that Portsmouth’s roads are amongst the most dangerous in the country for cyclists. If you think the roads in Portsmouth need to be safer for cyclists the please come to this meeting.

Agenda

  • Portsmouth City Council officers will present their view on the cycle casualties and their plan for dealing with them.
  • Angela Johnson of Hampshire Police will talk about community speed watch.
  • Portsmouth Cycle Forum will explain their campaign strategy for safer roads and how you can get involved.

Please come to this important meeting.

Thursday 10th July, 7pm. First Floor Meeting Room, John Pounds Centre, 23 Queen St, Portsmouth PO1 3HN (Map)

Portsmouth still has worst Cyclist Casualty Rate outside of London

Cyclist & HGV collision Hilsea May 2011
Cyclist & HGV collision Hilsea May 2011

For the second year running Portsmouth is the most dangerous place in England outside of London. Government statistics show that Portsmouth suffered 832 cyclist casualties per million population in 2012.

This is despite a very welcome improvement from the terrible figure of 983 per million, in 2011.

On Portsmouth’s roads, over the last 5 years, 157 cyclists have been killed or severely injured. When you include pedestrian road casualties, 318 vulnerable road users (VRU) were killed or severely injured, with a total 1,408 casualties.

And 316 of these were children under 16 – making up nearly a quarter of VRU casualties in Portsmouth.

PCC’s own surveys in schools and workplaces, said:

‘ the main barriers to cycling are concerns about the volume and speed of traffic, personal safety, lack of continuous cycle lanes or safe cycle routes, …’

and:

‘there is an issue around volume of traffic and the behaviour of a proportion of drivers in the city, and this can often make people feel vulnerable and lacking in the confidence to ride on the roads.’

and:

‘It is mainly women who say that lack of confidence on the roads is a major reason why they don’t cycle/cycle more’.

One example of this was Lynne Stagg, Lord Mayor and formerly Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, who said in 2010: “I don’t cycle any more. The roads aren’t safe.”

Graph of total cycling casualties by year in Portsmouth
Total cycling casualties by year in Portsmouth

In Portsmouth, with the worst cycling casualty figures outside London and a widespread fear of cycling for safety reasons, fewer than 5% cycle to work – unchanged for a decade.

In Copenhagen, which prioritises works to make cyclists safe, 36% commuted by bike, including children travelling to school.

Where do accidents happen?

DfT’s figures show that cyclists are four times more likely to be casualties on Urban A roads than on Urban Other roads.

This is due to the lethal effect of the higher speed on A roads, creating a toxic mix of two-way motor traffic, cyclists and pedestrians – including, of course, children and the elderly.

Then add in parked cars, bus stops, multiple side roads, major junctions, rush hours and the dropping off and picking up of children at school – all on Portsmouth’s narrow and congested streets.

Portsmouth’s road accident figures show this is a recipe for mayhem and it’s the vulnerable road users who are paying the price – with terrible consequences for families, friends and colleagues – years after the initial accident.

What can be done?

Last year, when the 2011 figures came out, a PCC spokesperson said:

‘…we are the most densely-populated area outside central London. As cyclists are more likely to have accidents on busy urban streets, this might also have an impact on our figures.’

Portsmouth Cycle Forum says this is no excuse. For safety, the Department for Transport (DfT) recommends applying a user hierarchy to the road design process with pedestrians at the top.

Clearly, vulnerable road users need protection from the lethal speed and weight of cars, vans, buses and lorries, often passing them just a hair’s breadth away.

One distraction; an unexpected event, and a cyclist or pedestrian is put at risk – we’ve all seen it happen, day after day.

When they are protected – as Copenhagen shows – many more people choose to walk and cycle and accident rates plummet.

The bottom line is that sections of Portsmouth’s A road network are just too narrow to safely accommodate the volume and mix of today’s traffic. A change must be made if we are to stop these casualties.

In A Cycling Strategy for Portsmouth: Draft for Consultation, in 2009, PCC endorsed the DfT road user hierarchy approach, giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists.

Isn’t it about time this was put into practice on Portsmouth’s Urban A roads – to stop us having the worst casualty rate outside London for another year?