Last Thursday Robert Goodwill MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, visited Portsmouth. The visit was prompted by a letter from Cllr Donna Jones, the leader of PCC, which was in turn prompted by engagement from Portsmouth Cycle Forum in a meeting following the launch of our cycling strategy, A City to Share.
The purpose of the Minister’s visit was to find out about the cycling initiatives taking places in Portsmouth and to discuss the measures needed to increase cycling levels. The Minister said that the momentum in the cities enjoying Cycle Ambition grant funding was such that fund could be diverted now to others, such as Portsmouth.
Cllr Jones mentioned the possibility of a Sky-Ride in 2016 but Sky’s sponsorship ends in that year.
Portsmouth Cycle Forum Vice-Chair John Holland was able to give a brief overview of A City to Share and the minister took a copy with him. He nodded in the right places and he mentioned the Government’s aim to increase cycle spending to £10 a head (with no date for achieving that though). Feedback is that the Minister is impressed with the strategy.
Following the meeting John Holland was joined by more members of the Forum to accompany the ministerial throng to The Hub in Winston Churchill Avenue. The Minister then took a “photo opportunity” bike ride along the seafront cycle route which was joined by Flick Drummond, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South. An ITV cameraman was in attendance.
At the Special Traffic and Transportation Decision Meeting on 13 March the Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Donna Jones, decided that the section of the southbound bus lane on Mile End Road between Haversham Road and Church Street should be removed and the space given to general traffic.
Cllr Jones proposed this as a solution to the problem of peak hour queuing traffic on the M275 which has increased at the location since the opening of the Park and Ride in 2014.
Portsmouth Cycle Forum would like to propose an alternative solution which would ease the problems of merging traffic and which would see the retention of the bus lane.
The Mile End Road southbound bus lane extends southwards from Rudmore roundabout and it has been in existence for many years. Archive satellite images from Google Earth show the bus lane to be in place in 1999.
In 2014, extensive changes were made to the road markings on southbound carriageway of the Mile End Road to coincide with the opening of the Park and Ride at Tipner. One of the measures was to force all traffic travelling from Rudmore Roundabout to merge with the inside lane of traffic arriving from the M275. It is this location which is the root of the traffic queues as a traffic lane had been removed. Previously the Rudmore traffic could proceed to the Church Street roundabout without merging.
The reason for the change was the conversion of the inside southbound lane of Commercial Road to a bus lane reducing the number of traffic lanes there from 3 to 2. PCC traffic engineers concluded that the number of traffic lanes for traffic travelling straight ahead at Church Street roundabout should be reduced accordingly on safety grounds.
The Mile End Road approach to before Church Street roundabout has 4 traffic lanes.
Lane 1: (the inside lane) is for traffic turning left onto Church Street
Lane 2: is for traffic proceeding to Commercial Road
Lane 3: is for traffic proceeding to Commercial Road
Lane 4: is for traffic performing a right turn to travel north along Mile End Road.
Note that lane 1 is a continuation of the bus lane which stops short of the roundabout.
The alternative proposal would once again permit traffic from Rudmore Roundabout to reach Church Street roundabout without needed in merge into the lanes arriving from the M275 and would retain the bus lane. It would be achieved as follows:
Lane 1: extend the bus and cycle lane right up to traffic lights, with solid white line.
Amend the traffic lights so that there is separate phase for lane 1 (the bus lane). When at green the lights on the other lanes would show red thus giving buses priority yet preventing conflict traffic turning left onto Church Street and buses proceeding straight ahead. The bus lane lights would be activated by approaching buses.
Lane 2: designate for other traffic turning left into Church Street.
Lane 3: designate for straight ahead traffic.
Lane 4: designate for straight ahead and right turning traffic
We accept that this solution will be more expensive than the simple but destructive removal of a section of the bus lane as it involves changes to the traffic lights but the advantages are clear. We ask that it or similar arrangement should be implemented.
Today at the Traffic & Transportation Cabinet Meeting Cllr Ken Ellcome decided to marginally shorten the Mile End bus lane. The recommendation from officers was to maintain the lane as is, but there was an alternative proposal to drastically shorten the lane.
Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats asked for the lane to be left as is, and three deputations – one by First Bus, one by Portsmouth Cycle Forum and one by a private citizen – also spoke against shortening the lane. Despite the recent clamour in the letters page of the local press nobody spoke in favour of shortening the lane.
Despite all of this Cllr Ellcome decided to shorten the bus lane by about 15 metres, as he felt that this would make it easier for traffic turning left from Mile End Rd into Church Street. In many ways this is a puzzling decision. It will make little pragmatic difference to traffic flow and will almost certainly not satisfy those who have been complaining about the road layout in so vociferously in the local news.
What it does do is symbolic. A cut is a cut and this reduces, even if only marginally, the sustainable transport infrastructure in the city. It will do nothing to encourage the modal shift away from the private car that the city so desperately needs. This will make matters marginally worse for cyclists by increasing the gap between the bus lane on Mile End Rd and that on the Church Street Roundabout. We predict it will have no net effect on the traffic congestion.
It is disappointing that Cllr Ellcome decided to over-rule the professional advice of his officers, the wishes of all three deputees and the opinions of the parties who between them represented a majority of councillors. The change is not positive, but perhaps it is significantly less negative than we’d feared.
This Thursday Portsmouth City Council will make a decision about the future of the Mile End Road bus lane. The clamour from frustrated motorists has forced a re-evaluation of the road layout. Can we really afford the space for that bus lane?
The aim of removing the bus lane would be simple: to increase the number of vehicles that can get into our city. So the first question we have to ask ourselves is whether that is something we want.
Increasing vehicle capacity at the entrance to the city will have a knock-on effect on every street. The price will be more vehicles using each small residential street. More queuing traffic in the city. More competition for parking. More danger. Figures from the road safety charity Brake show that road casualties are increasing for the first time in 20 years.
Even if we do decide that the price is worth paying we also have to ask: will it actually work? Will removing the bus lane really help? The sober analysis suggests not. The queue on Mile End Rd will simply be replaced by several smaller queues elsewhere in the city with the net effect that journeys take the same amount of time. The bottleneck is not removed, it’s just in a different place. Bus passengers, including those using the successful Park and Ride, will be delayed and cyclists will be placed at greater risk.
The only way to realistically reduce congestion is to reduce the number of vehicles using the road. In order to do that we have to offer people alternative ways of getting into the city. The bus lane is such an alternative. The city council should be looking to increase its effectiveness, not to take it away. To do this will not make car journeys better but it will make the alternatives worse.
Please do not compromise the long-term wellbeing of the city for short term populism.
The 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.
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.
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.
On Tuesday 2nd December Portsmouth Cycle Forum was invited to the first meeting of the City Council’s Transport Stakeholder Liaison Group. The new Tory administration has significantly widened the engagement of these transport stakeholder meetings. There re now no fewer than five groups: A taxi operators group, a bus operators group, a rail operators group, an active travel group and this overarching group which includes all. This is considerably richer than the previous groups which only included taxi, bus and rail operators. A really positive change and well done to Cllr Ellcome doing it.
The meeting included representatives from: the taxi trade (lots of them), First and Stagecoach bus operators, South West Trains, Portsmouth Disability Forum, PCC reps (from Transport & Environment, Parking, Traffic Management, Town Centre Management and Transport Planning), Colas, British Cycling and us, the cycle forum. Councillors Ellcome (Con) and Stagg (LD) were in attendance.
Apart from details of the current PCC program of works, the park and ride, NHT surveys the main issue on the agenda was a discussion about admitting private hire taxis into bus lanes. Currently buses and Hackney Carriages are allowed in bus lanes – but private hire taxis are not. There are currently about 300 Hackney Carriages in the city but over 800 private hire taxis.
This issue was brought up by the taxi drivers and they have raised a petition in support of about 800 signatures. Both bus companies spoke against as did British Cycling and Portsmouth Cycle Forum. I can understand that the taxi drivers are frustrated that congestion levels are hampering their business but the solution is to attract people out of their cars and onto other transport – like bikes. If we fill what little cycling space we have with taxis then that won’t happen.
We also had the opportunity to brief on A City to Share, our new cycling strategy. All the copies of the document I had available were given – I’d love some feedback from bus companies and taxi operators.
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.
A 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!
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;
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.
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. “
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?
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.
Portsmouth City Council Road Safety & Active Travel team, supported by Sustrans will be running an event to raise awareness of the current cyclist casualty trend at junctions where 78% of cycle collisions in Portsmouth occur.
There will be a large van and a heavy goods vehicle provided by TJ Waste & Recycling with bikes mocked up in the blind spots. Cyclists and drivers will be invited to see both sides of the coin from sitting in the vehicles and on the bikes.
The key messages will be that drivers need to check their mirrors and over their nearside shoulder before turning in and cyclists need to be aware that vehicles turning into them at junctions is the most likely collision that can befall them.
There will also be Bike Dr at the event who will provide free bike repairs as well as free hi-vis bag covers and cycle lights for visitors. The police will be providing cycle locking advice, cost price d-locks and bike security coding.
The event takes place on 30th August from 10:00 to 16:00 in the Guildhall Square.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)