Category Archives: City Council

Here’s what we did this summer…

Written by: Ian Saunders, PCF Chair

It’s been a busy few months for us on the committee as a number of large scale projects start to turn corners and lurch into the view of deadlines during the autumn.

Quite a lot of time was taken to respond to the planning application for the Southsea Sea Defence works. We have responded to previous consultations but this time there were actual designs with technical drawings to which we could respond. Lots of them…

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 (a separate planning document) 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 the planned sections make cycling more hazardous, or less enjoyable, with little separation between bikes and cars. The designers have also failed to do anything about the existing problem faced by cyclists of having to switch sides at several points along the seafront.

Our thanks go to Roger Inkpen for compiling all the comments into a cohesive document which has been cited by others responding to the application as well, which you can read hereherehere

At the same time as this seafront defences application went live, we were asked by the Council to be a part of the consultation for a new safety scheme along Goldsmith Avenue as part of a wider east / west active travel corridor. The aim of the Goldsmith Avenue scheme is to add protection to the existing cycle lanes in the form of cycle lane defenders and wands between Fratton Way roundabout and Fratton Bridge roundabout. One of the two Francis Avenue junctions would be closed to motor vehicles, and an informal pedestrian crossing added to aid movement between Lidl and the bus stop on the opposite side of the road.

This road has a poor road safety record, and is perceived as a barrier to east-west cycling in the south of the city for commuters, school children and others. The on road painted cycle lane is constantly parked over by local businesses, forcing people riding further into the carriageway and into the path of a high flow of motorised traffic.

We were pleased to see proposals that physically segregate cyclists from motor vehicles in some areas, but we do appreciate that this route is constrained for space due to the railway line and private properties on each side. We see the proposals as an opportunity to improve on the current layout, but remain concerned that there is not enough sufficient width through the entire length of the scheme to maintain separation from traffic throughout. The proposal to include defenders and wands however means that a precedent could be set, as could lead to installation at other sites in the city.

Committee member Mike Dobson has been our representative on the PCC Air Quality Steering Group; set up to investigate and assess how the city might be able to meet air quality targets ahead of a clean air zone being imposed by Government combined government departments DEFRA and the DfT – known as the Joint Air Quality Unit, or JAQU.

The Council has chosen a band B charging zone which includes buses, taxis and trucks but not light goods vehicles and private cars.

Since launching our ‘A City To Share’ strategy in 2014, we have made it clear that to reduce congestion and improve air quality, cycling, walking and public transport improvements are required to offer residents, workers and visitors to the city a true alternative to travel. If we could reduce the number of internal car journeys on Portsea Island itself, that would go a long way to improving the situation for everyone. But we need the correct infrastructure and investment to make these alternative options attractive enough for people to switch modes.

Part of that infrastructure would be a network of safe, consistent and connected cycle lanes. The next two projects aim to develop and quantify exactly that:

The Local Cycle and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) – LCWIPs, which came in under the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS), are defined as a “new, strategic approach to identifying cycling and walking improvements required at the local level”. Planning policies, it says, should “provide for high quality walking and cycling networks and supporting facilities such as cycle parking.”

PCC are currently developing their LCWIP and we have been involved in assessing the 10 route audits across the city as defined by their consultants WSP. Whilst the audits are in themselves a useful tool for the state of the current network, we feel as if too many of the suggested improvements focus on bringing up to standard what is already there rather than being more ambitious and showcasing what may be possible if there was some fundamental re-designing of road space in favour of cycling (and walking).

We’d like to see more suggestions of roads being closed to through-traffic to make it easier and quicker to cycle, rather than drive around the city; re-imagining cycle lanes as purpose built tracks by removing a second lane of traffic at junctions, and seeing a widespread roll-out of cycle specific phasing of controlled traffic signals to enable cycles to get away from a stop line in advance of the quicker, more powerful motor vehicles. If there is no stick for drivers to stop driving, why would they go for the carrot?

Those of you that attended our 2018 Annual General Meeting will have contributed to the start of our Pompey Tube Map of cycle routes. You can see it hereherehere.

This mapping exercise was an opportunity to see where members wanted to cycle, which routes they took, and to rank the general standard of the route. Interestingly the tube map did look very similar to the refined data of the LCWIP routes identified by other more scientific means collating data such as leisure, shopping, work and education centres compared to population neighbourhood centres.

We are currently breathing life into the Tube map and turning it into a ‘Big Map” using GIS mapping technology. We will then then overlay other data such as the LCWIP identified routes, the position of cycle counters in the city, as well as the existing infrastructure and PCC ‘Quieter Route’ network. Our thanks go to committee members Jon Riding and Tim Pickering for doing the number crunching on this project.

As well as these major projects, we continue with the day-to-day of cycle campaigning – identifying and reporting issues, watching out for forthcoming road maintenance projects and planning applications, and networking with councillors and officers alike to continue to push the message about needing safer cycle routes, better secure bicycle parking and continuing to raise awareness of our presence and what we do with the public and non-members.

We could do more, but we need help. Having lost around four members of the committee over the last 18 months, we are starting to hit the limit of what can be achieved from those still able to contribute some time to the cause.

We are particularly looking for local area champions who can be a point of contact for the committee who can advise or keep an eye on issues and projects around them. The Hilsea / Copnor / Fratton areas are of great interest to us as we do not currently have committee members living in those areas.

Other roles we are looking to fill are events organiser, website copywriter and communications Officer as all these have been restricted by the other work we have been under taking over the last few months. Even if you can give a few hours of your spare time every month, it can make a difference.

So now you’ve seen what we’ve been up to – if you’re interested in helping us out to create ‘A City to Share’, get in touch at [email protected]

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.

Cycling in snow and ice

PCC’s Flagship magazine has proudly declared that “our goal is to ensure all transport routes in and out of the city are clear.” The detail is on the PCC website.

We have asked PCC for reassurance that ‘all transport routes’ includes cycle routes such as the four Sustrans National Cycle Network routes in Portsmouth (NCNs 2, 22, 222 and 236) are included in gritting plans to keep transport routes open. Regrettably, they’re not. Even though the highway authority (PCC) has a statutory duty under the Highways Act to ‘provide for the safe movement of people and goods’, there is no policy to keep cycle routes clear of snow and ice.

The consequences of not gritting cycle routes are potentially grave:
• Ice and snow make cycling more difficult and potentially hazardous.
• Cyclists compelled to use icy main roads will avoid gutters filled with ice or snow. Riding towards the centre of the lane is likely to slow motor traffic and increase congestion and driver frustration.
• Congestion is likely to increase because not maintaining the cycle network at all times in all weathers will increase the likelihood that cyclists who are car owners will feel obliged to drive.
• Not maintaining cycle routes could be seen as discriminating against those who do not have access to cars or can’t afford taxis, and would reinforce the undesirable belief that the only safe way to get around our congested city is by motor vehicle.
• Failing to maintain cycle access all year round hinders active and sustainable travel and will increase the city’s already illegally high levels of air pollution.

The options available to cyclists are therefore:
• Use the main cycle routes with extreme caution because they will not be gritted
• Use the main roads because cycle routes will not be gritted
• Don’t cycle

The Met Office has excellent information about cycling in ice and snow provided by Cycling UK. As a minimum:
1. Let out some air – grip is improved by increasing contact with the road. Letting a little air out from your tyres can make a real difference.
2. Slow it down – icy conditions and narrow cycle tyres at speed can be a recipe for disaster. if in doubt about conditions, take it easy.
3. Keep out of the gutter after rain and following a freeze, the sides of roads can be treacherous.
4. Chill out – if you do hit some ice or a similarly slippery surface, sudden steering movements and sharp braking can see you go from the vertical to the horizontal in record time. Relax and ride it out or, if it’s an extended stretch, consider walking the distance
5. Stay seen – low winter sun and the longer nights can make visibility both for you and other road users all the harder. Ensure you have good front and rear lights. During the day watch out for that low sun both for own visibilty and the possibility that drivers may not see you.
6. Dress appropriately – layers are best for trapping in warm air and can help you regulate your temperature while riding. Keep hands, feet and head protected as these will suffer more in the cold.
7. Consider alternatives – think about changing your route or the time of your journey to avoid icy conditions.
If weather conditions are extreme, consider whether cycling is a safe option.

So wrap up warm and take care out there!

Coastal Defences Update

From the Southsea Coastal Scheme team

New consultation dates announced for summer 2018

Following our engagement events at the end of last year, we are going to be out and about across the city in July holding a new series of consultation events on our emerging designs. These will be held at:

EASTNEY COMMUNITY CENTRE: 4 July, 1pm-7pm

CANOE LAKE TENNIS PAVILION: 6 July, 1.30pm- 7.30pm

ASPEX GALLERY: 10 July, 1pm-7pm

ANCHORAGE PARK COMMUNITY CENTRE: 11 July, 3pm-7pm

ST JUDE’S CHURCH: 12 July, 1pm-7pm

COSHAM COMMUNITY CENTRE: 16 July, 3pm-7pm

ROYAL NAVAL CLUB & ROYAL ALBERT YACHT CLUB: 17 July, 1pm-7pm

FRATTON COMMUNITY CENTRE: 20 July, 1pm-7pm

We’ll be asking you for your help with some big decisions, which include how some of the seafront roads could be used in the future and how the new defences could look near South Parade Pier. You’ll also be able to sign-up to workshops where you can interrogate the emerging designs with the help of experts, who will explain the opportunities and constraints in each area. 3D visualisations and animations will help you imagine what the emerging designs could look like on the seafront.

Running alongside our consultation will be the beginning of a review of Portsmouth City Council’s seafront masterplan. This strategy is known as a ‘supplementary planning document’, which is intended to guide improvements to this area of the city. Staff from the council’s planning team will be on hand to tell you more and get your feedback at all of the consultation venues. This approach will ensure that all the opportunities that are created by the construction of the new sea defences can be realised in the future. We look forward to seeing you there!

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.

Pedal Portsmouth Glow Ride 2017

You can register here.

Bring your hi-vis, glow-in-the-dark accessorise and lights, and take part in our bigger and brighter Pedal Portsmouth Glow Ride on Southsea seafront on Saturday 14 October from 6.30pm – 7.30pm – registration from 5.30pm.

It’s a fun, free family event, celebrating safe night-time cycling, on a 3km traffic free route along the seafront. If you are one of the best-lit cyclists, you could win a prize.

The ride starts on Eastney Esplanade near Canoe Lake and will be open for an hour from 6.30pm – 7.30pm, allowing cyclists of all ages and abilities to enjoy cycling round the course at their own pace while lighting up the night. Make sure you sign up to be part of the spectacle!

The registration desk will be open from 5.30pm. Sign-in will be quicker if you’ve already given us your details online so register now. There will be free glow drawstring bags and goodies for participants. Bike Doctor will be there from 5.30pm so if you need your brakes tightened, saddle adjusted or a quick check over get there early.

Please remember that it is illegal to cycle on a public road after dark without lights and reflectors. Anyone without lights could be issued with a £30 fine. You can get good-quality lights and cycle gear from the council at almost cost price. Just ask at reception at the Civic Offices, Guildhall Square.

[courtesy of Portsmouth City Council]

Open Meeting – 21 September

We have our next open meeting on Thursday 21 September at the Richmond Building, University of Portsmouth.

At our last meeting in June we mourned and paid tribute to Tim Atkins. He was killed after being knocked off his bike on the Eastern Road cycle path. We have been pressing Portsmouth City Council to do something about the blind spots and pinch points for years and now our – and your – voices are being heard.

At the meeting we will hear from Cllr Simon Bosher, the city transport portfolio holder.  He will be presenting the plans for the changes to the Eastern Road.  These will be going out to consultation around the same time with a number of ‘roadshows’ taking place at the end of the month.

At our last meeting before the general election we were expecting the then MP for Portsmouth South, Flick Drummond to speak about her work in Parliament.  Now she has some free time and will be with us to talk about the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling, of which she was a member. There will be time for questions after her talk.

We start at 7pm, so please arrive 10-15 minutes earlier.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 21 September at 7.00pm in Lecture Theatre 2 of the Richmond Building of the University of Portsmouth.  We start at 7.00pm, so please arrive 10-15 minutes earlier.

PCC Cycle Surgery

As discussed at our June meeting, we have arranged a ‘surgery’ with one of the active travel and road safety team at the city council.  There is the opportunity to discuss particular issues you have with cycling in the city.  There is time for 4 slots before this meeting, and we hope to have some more in November. To make sure of your slot please find more information and booking form here.

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

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

Cycle Casualties 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Simon’s story
Read John’s story

Sources

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