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?
For the second year running Portsmouth is the most dangerous place in England outside of London. Government statistics show that Portsmouth suffered 832 cyclist casualties per million population in 2012.
This is despite a very welcome improvement from the terrible figure of 983 per million, in 2011.
On Portsmouth’s roads, over the last 5 years, 157 cyclists have been killed or severely injured. When you include pedestrian road casualties, 318 vulnerable road users (VRU) were killed or severely injured, with a total 1,408 casualties.
And 316 of these were children under 16 – making up nearly a quarter of VRU casualties in Portsmouth.
PCC’s own surveys in schools and workplaces, said:
‘ the main barriers to cycling are concerns about the volume and speed of traffic, personal safety, lack of continuous cycle lanes or safe cycle routes, …’
‘there is an issue around volume of traffic and the behaviour of a proportion of drivers in the city, and this can often make people feel vulnerable and lacking in the confidence to ride on the roads.’
‘It is mainly women who say that lack of confidence on the roads is a major reason why they don’t cycle/cycle more’.
One example of this was Lynne Stagg, Lord Mayor and formerly Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, who said in 2010: “I don’t cycle any more. The roads aren’t safe.”
In Portsmouth, with the worst cycling casualty figures outside London and a widespread fear of cycling for safety reasons, fewer than 5% cycle to work – unchanged for a decade.
In Copenhagen, which prioritises works to make cyclists safe, 36% commuted by bike, including children travelling to school.
Where do accidents happen?
DfT’s figures show that cyclists are four times more likely to be casualties on Urban A roads than on Urban Other roads.
This is due to the lethal effect of the higher speed on A roads, creating a toxic mix of two-way motor traffic, cyclists and pedestrians – including, of course, children and the elderly.
Then add in parked cars, bus stops, multiple side roads, major junctions, rush hours and the dropping off and picking up of children at school – all on Portsmouth’s narrow and congested streets.
Portsmouth’s road accident figures show this is a recipe for mayhem and it’s the vulnerable road users who are paying the price – with terrible consequences for families, friends and colleagues – years after the initial accident.
What can be done?
Last year, when the 2011 figures came out, a PCC spokesperson said:
‘…we are the most densely-populated area outside central London. As cyclists are more likely to have accidents on busy urban streets, this might also have an impact on our figures.’
Portsmouth Cycle Forum says this is no excuse. For safety, the Department for Transport (DfT) recommends applying a user hierarchy to the road design process with pedestrians at the top.
Clearly, vulnerable road users need protection from the lethal speed and weight of cars, vans, buses and lorries, often passing them just a hair’s breadth away.
One distraction; an unexpected event, and a cyclist or pedestrian is put at risk – we’ve all seen it happen, day after day.
When they are protected – as Copenhagen shows – many more people choose to walk and cycle and accident rates plummet.
The bottom line is that sections of Portsmouth’s A road network are just too narrow to safely accommodate the volume and mix of today’s traffic. A change must be made if we are to stop these casualties.
In A Cycling Strategy for Portsmouth: Draft for Consultation, in 2009, PCC endorsed the DfT road user hierarchy approach, giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists.
Isn’t it about time this was put into practice on Portsmouth’s Urban A roads – to stop us having the worst casualty rate outside London for another year?
Portsmouth City Council is planning changes to the city centre roads and a planning application will be submitted in early 2014. The area concerned is bounded by Marketway, Hope Street and Commercial Road. The purpose of the scheme is to ensure that the road network will cope efficiently with the future development and growth of the locality and the city. The city centre cycle route network and pedestrian crossing points will be significantly affected by the changes – it’s up to us to make sure that those changes are for the better.
There is a leaflet which explains the proposals and at the time of writing this was not available on the PCC Web site so we’ve made it available for you to download.
There will be a public exhibition in a Portakabin on the Marketway car park at the following times:
Thursday 24 October 9am – 8pm
Friday 25 October 9am – 4pm
Saturday 26 October 9am – 4pm
Portsmouth Cycle Forum has already had two meetings with the Portsmouth City Council team behind these plans. They have been extremely proactive in engaging with us – an approach which we have found very refreshing. However, our conclusion on the current plans is that they are still very much centred on the private motor car. Cycling, and indeed other sustainable transport modes, come out very much second best. You can read our initial response to the design here – note that this is limited to the specific concerns and issues discussed in the meeting. PCF will submit a full response to the consultation.
Don’t miss this opportunity to understand and comment on the proposals. Once implemented, this road system will be in place for 30 years or more, and it will be exceedingly difficult to change. It’s vital that officers and politicians hear as many voices asking for better cycling provision as possible. If you can’t make it to the consultation sessions then you can respond by email, by post or by phone. Details are in the pamphlet linked above.
The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) released their Get Britain Cycling report today. The report follows a six-week long inquiry hosted by the APPCG at the Palace of Westminster earlier this year calls for 10% of all journeys in Britain to be made by bike by 2025. Some of the headline recommendations made to enable this goal include:
More of the transport budget should be spent on supporting cycling, at a rate initially set to at least £10 per person per year, and increasing as cycling levels increase
Cycling should be considered at an earlier stage in all planning decisions, whether transport schemes or new houses or businesses
More use should be made of segregated cycle lanes, learning from the Dutch experience
Urban speed limits should generally be reduced to 20 mph
Just as children learn to swim at school they should learn to ride a bike
The Government should produce a detailed cross-departmental Cycling Action Plan, with annual progress reports.
Former world and Olympic champion and Tour de France maillot jaune Chris Boardman has produced a short film for British Cycling that poses the question, Who Are Cycle Lanes For? The film has been released ahead of his appearance on Wednesday before the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ Parliamentary Inquiry, the fourth of six sessions and focusing in part on how to turn Britain’s sporting success into getting more people riding bikes (with thanks to road.cc).
The video makes a great job of showing the inadequate and poorly thought out infrastructure cyclists are presented with. Now we need to get some of the decision makers to watch …
The Shipwright’s Way is a new 60-mile leisure path starting at Alice Holt Forest near Farnham and ending at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, home of the Mary Rose, HMS Warrior and HMS Victory. The name reflects the journey of oak grown at Alice Holt to dockyards such as Portsmouth for medieval shipbuilding.
The route enters the City of Portsmouth via the Ferry from Hayling Island at Eastney. From there it follows the Ferry Road, Fort Cumberland Road and Melville Road to the seafront cycle route, ending at South Parade Pier.
Portsmouth City Council is consulting on the section of the route linking South Parade Pier with Pembroke Road in Old Portsmouth; most of this is already in place as a walking/cycling route.
Portsmouth Cycle Forum welcomes this initiative and supports the proposals although it is with regret that the designers have not been able to route it along Clarence Esplanade, the seafront road.
Please take a look at the plans which are available to view at the PCC Web Site. There will be a drop-in meeting the Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, PO1 2NE on Thursday 2 August between 2pm and 7pm (Meeting room A on the second floor). The consultation runs until 7 September.
In the early 1990s the A3 road north from the A3(M) was replaced by a dual carriageway that, for the vast majority of cyclists, does not offer an acceptable safety level. The Highways Agency built cycle tracks alongside the A3, south from Queen Elizabeth Country Park to North Horndean and from Petersfield to Liphook.
The critical section for cyclists, through the Butser Cutting, was left without cycle provision with the loss of the primary cycling route across Hampshire’s South Downs. Over 10 years of campaigning by a large number of cyclists has so far failed to get this unacceptable road design rectified.
However, At a recent meeting with Hampshire County Council staff the Highways Agency agreed to reconsider their objection to a cycle track alongside the dual carriageway, in the Butser Cutting, between the south end of the unused Old A3 and the QE Park entrance. This link would allow the reinstatement of a primary north south cycling route through the South Downs using the now unused Old A3.
The Highway Agency’s more relaxed interpretation of the technical criteria suggests that this is the right time to increase pressure for the reinstatement of the cycle route. The initial action is for a cyclists’ petition that you are invited to support.
Please take the time to support this petition which aims to:
Maximise the number of cyclists who can cycle across the Hampshire Downs;
Enable cycle commuting between the Waterlooville/ Horndean area and Petersfield;
Enable cycle access from south of the Downs to Petersfield Railway Station;
Improve cycling access from the north onto Butser Hill and into the Queen Elizabeth Forest and the wider South Downs National Park;
Improve the safety of those who already cycle along the A3 route;
Increase the level of cycling by making additional cycle routes accessible.
Cabinet member for Traffic and Transportation, Cllr Jason Fazackarley, gave his support of two-way cycling in Charlotte Street, Landport at his decision meeting on 19 January.
The comment was made in response to a deputation from Portsmouth Cycle Forum where the experimental traffic regulation order changing the direction of traffic on this one-way street was made permanent.
Senior Traffic Engineer, Barry Rawlings, advised that a study should be carried out to ensure that two-way cycling would be safe. He said that the road is narrower than most roads in the city where two-way cycling is currently permitted.
Cycle Forum Chairman, John Holland said, “We welcome the decision to consider two-way cycling in Charlotte Street. The road could form part of a vital east-west link for cyclists linking the city centre with Unicorn Gate and routes to Gunwharf Quays. Whilst we acknowledge that the road is narrow, parking is not permitted anywhere along its length. The available carriageway width is no different from most other one-way streets in Portsmouth with two-way cycling where vehicles are parked on both sides of the road.”
Cllr Fazackarley invited members of the Forum to participate in the study which will include a site meeting.
It is the City Council’s policy that two-way cycling should be established on one-way streets where it is safe and sensible to do so. Several one-way roads within the city now have two-way cycling and all have 20mph speed limits in force. A recent Government decision has relaxed the rules on signage for permitting two-way cycling.
You would be forgiven for not immediately recognising the name of James Callaghan Drive, but many of you may have tried to walk or ride along Portsdown Hill Road. As you travel west the hill road changes into James Callaghan Drive and it is one of the scariest roads to ride along in Portsmouth. On the south side you have a Site of Special Scientific Interest and on the north side, old forts and farmer’s fields. Its almost in the countryside – birds are singing – grass, wildlife, trees and flowers are all around you. Sounds like a lovely place to take the family for a picnic?
Wrong, it is used as an alternative route by people in rapid and often large vehicles that wish to get between Havant and Fareham but would rather not use the Southampton Road or the motorway. The speed limit is 40mph but often people are doing more than that! A vehicle passing you at 40mph is really very frightening especially on an extremely narrow road with no footway at all when you are on a bike, walking or riding a pony or horse. This is especially true if the road is less that 5 m wide for two-way traffic and has bends and undulations that mean the vehicle approaching at speed from the rear cannot see what is coming towards it on the other side.
The result is that if you are trying to use the road and you aren’t in a vehicle you may have a hair raising time of it with lorries cutting you up, cars swerving towards you to avoid a collision with an on coming vehicle or simply a very impatient person behind you just waiting to take a chance with your life to get passed.
So just imagine you have a disability of any kind and then imagine you want to enjoy the gorgeous countryside on Portsdown Hill and look out over the fabulous views along the hill road, you would not have any opportunity to do so. Just imagine you have a family and you and an elderly relative want to go out to the countryside and have a nice walk or ride along the hill. Or maybe you work on the hill and don’t want to take a car or you want to visit some of the interesting places on the hill like the Peter Ashley Centre, the Equestrian Centre or the forts. You’ll have negotiate the busy road first, then make your way along the narrow and lumpy verge, if there is one, trying not to trip into the road. This is not for the faint hearted!
However, all of this could be changed and the area opened up to many more visitors and families if a simple amendment was made….. create a multi-user hard wearing path on the northern side of the road that bikes, walkers, the disabled and horses can all use easily, like the billy trail, made of compacted gravel maybe. There must be a material that would be suitable for all to use?
Then we can promote this as somewhere that visitors and residents can go to have a family day out, enjoy the view, walk or ride along the hill looking out over Portsmouth or the fields and the downs in the distance the other way. This simple solution is better value for money and more beneficial to all types of road users, especially the vulnerable ones, than the majority of the projects funded last year by the council.
We are inviting all ward Councillors and MPs to come and meet us there on 25th November at 8.30 am (although the traffic is fairly non-stop all day) to judge for themselves and formulate their own opinions on what it is like along this road if you aren’t ‘protected’ by a metal casing. Come along too and support us, or just express you point of view. If you can’t make it write a quick email to your councillor and MP
A video posted to YouTube by a New York City cyclist fined for not riding in the bike lane provide some laughs as he uses slapstick humour to reinforce the point he made to the NYPD officer ticketing him that the bike lane isn’t always the safest place to be. Not that the officer was having any of it – he went ahead and issued the summons, telling the cyclist, Casey Neistat, that he faced a fine of anywhere between $10 and $130, despite the rider pointing out that the driver of a nearby vehicle parked in a bus lane wasn’t being given similar treatment.
As it turned out, he was fined $50 despite the minor detail that not riding in a bike lane isn’t actually against the law in the first place. You can see why there’s often tension between New York’s finest and the city’s cyclists.
I was lucky enough to attend the recent Velo-City conference in Seville. Velo-City the major international cycling planning conference series in the world and seeks to encourage cycling as a part of daily transport and recreation. It is organised by the European Cycling Federation but is attended by delegates from all continents. The conference is hosted by a different city each year, with the host city decided by a highly competitive bidding process. As a little englander attending velo-city brings a shock of realisation at just how seriously cycling is taken in Europe. The conference is not held in a dingy Travelodge equivalent but in the best conference centre in the city and heavily subsidised by the host city. The hosts consider the long-term benefits of creating such a focus on their use of the bicycle to far outweigh the costs.
This year’s host, Seville, has undergone a remarkable change in recent years. Only 5 years ago Seville was gridlocked and the car was the preeminent form of transport for Sevillans – the modal share for cycling was only 0.2%. Since then a transformational set of transport policies has changed this – cycling now has a modal share of 6.6%. Now about 70,000 people commute by bike each day, which is double the number that use the city’s metro system at only one twentieth of the cost. Many experts would consider 20 years to be a reasonable timescale for such change – Seville has proved that much more ambitious schemes are possible.
To do this Seville has built an extensive – although not yet perfect – network of cycle lanes and a bike hire scheme with 2000 bicycles at 250 locations. The cycle infrastructure follows the main transport desire lines of the city rather than just being put into odd places where there is leftover space anyway. Seville has eschewed the easy options and created a really good cycle network in a very short time.
One interesting feature of the road network in Seville was their equivalent to our Toucan crossings. These crossings give a countdown to cyclists and pedestrians to let you know how long there is to wait and then countdown on green, so you know how long you have to live. These junctions didn’t need a button to be pressed, they assume there will be cycle and pedestrian traffic just as the presence of motor traffic is automatically assumed. I observed that at least one of these junctions gives exactly the same allocation of time to cyclists and pedestrians as it does to motorists – turns of about 50 seconds each. Now wouldn’t that be a great thing to include in a review of the traffic light controlled junctions in Portsmouth?
I was attending the Velo-City conference as an exhibitor which means I didn’t get to attend any presentations but I did still pick up a wealth of useful information. I will be writing it all up in a series of articles here on Pompeybug over the next few weeks. Stay tuned.
The proposed city council budget for 2011/12 onwards proposes that the subsidy currently offered to the Hayling Ferry be cancelled. This will more than likely spell the end for the ferry service which provides a great route into and out of the city for cyclists and pedestrians. The budget will go to the vote at council on tuesday 8th February. If you would like the service to be saved then please phone, email or write to your ward councillors to ask them to oppose the motion to scrap the subsidy.
The Hayling ferry provides vital access to a rural area to the residents of Portsmouth. This is one of the very few rural areas that is accessible to the people of Portsmouth without requiring access to a car. Our MP, Mike Hancock, spoke very eloquently on the breakfast news on this week about how vital public access to rural areas is to the wellbeing of a community and how he was therefore, in opposition to his government’s plans to sell off woodland. He was absolutely right to make this stand but it will be prove pointless if means of accessing such rural areas are removed.
Despite the assertions made in appendix C of the budget report, the Hayling ferry is widely used by citizens of Portsmouth. It is used daily by workers at Hayling, Havant and Langstone (and further afield) who commute by bike. It is heavily used by people who wish to visit the beaches or to use the popular Billy Trail by foot or by bike. The Hayling Ferry link is part of the UK national cycle network route 2 and as such is used by cyclists from across the UK to get into Portsmouth.
The major transport challenge Portsmouth faces is surely the fact that most of the city is on an island and there are very few access routes. Removing one of these routes is surely, at best, extremely unwise? This will increase pressure on the already extremely congested Eastern Road and will remove, at a stroke, the most pleasant way onto and off of Portsea Island.
The Hayling Ferry is good value. It’s annual subsidy of £15,000 is only about 1.3% of what the pyramids is costing the city this year. In terms of the value of the leisure and travel opportunities it presents it is punching well above its weight.
In response to the lively public debate about the virtues of the new seafront cycle route we have produced a set of frequently asked questions and answers to address some of the most common concerns. The document can be found in our infrastructure section or by clicking this link.
Portsmouth’s Cycle Forum believes that the new cycle route makes a massively positive contribution to the seafront and the city and is in whole hearted support of it. If you haven’t tried it yet then we can only suggest you get your bike out and go for a ride.
Most of you will have noticed by now that the first phase of the seafront cycle route is being built – indeed a long stretch of it is all but complete. You will also noticed that there has been considerable criticism of the route in the local press. It is vitally important that we show Portsmouth City Council how popular this route is – otherwise there is a great risk that the decision makers will get cold feet when asked to approve phase 2. Therefore could we please ask all of you to write to Simon Moon, head of traffic and transportation at Portsmouth City Council expressing support for the seafront cycle route.
If you are not sure what to write or are short of time then we have created a form with which you can automatically email Simon Moon. Click here to find it.
However, a unique letter or email always has more impact so if you have time to write one Simon Moon’s Contact details are:
Portsmouth City Council
Hampshire, PO1 2BG
The opening of the new section of the Hayling Billy Trail will take place at Havant Road Langstone, at the junction with Mill Lane, on the 26th Feb 2010 at 10.30 am.
The new path will be opened by David Willets MP, portfolio holder Jenny Wride along with Simon Pratt from Sustrans.
Tea and coffee will be provided at the Sailing Club after the opening with a small display showing future joint cycle improvement and safe routes to school projects that Sustrans, HCC and HBC are intending to carry out within the Borough over the next 18 months.
Please cycle! Failing that use either public transport or walk. Parking will be difficult.
The deferred planning application for a new business development at Lakeside, North Harbour was approved at the City Council’s Planning Committee on 9 December.
Councillors on the planning committee expressed the view that it was not incumbent on the developers to provide any further sustainable transport infrastructure.
They did however, agree that cycle infrastructure at Portsbridge is fundamentally inadequate and that something must be done. The implication would seem to be then that PCC will take some action itself.
Councillor Luke Stubbs (Conservative) spoke in favour of the proposals stressing the need for more jobs in the city. He made no mention of the need to reduce dependence on the car for travel to and from the site. He proposed that the application should be passed by the planning committee.
Councillor Jacqui Hancock (Liberal Democrat) was silent throughout the proceedings with the exception of seconding Cllr Stubbs proposal.
Councillor Jim Fleming (Liberal Democrat) sympathised with the objectors but felt that the developers had made efforts to accomodate the wishes of the city planners.
Councillor Donna Jones (Conservative) shared Cllr Phillip’s view. She said that it was a case of risk vs reward – the risk of increasing Portsmouth’s carbon footprint vs the rewards of people having jobs in order to be able to buy bicycles to enjoy cycling. She quoted a letter form a constituent who asked “if there were no more cars in Portsmouth, would the threat of flooding from the sea recede?”
Portsmouth Cycle Forum (PCF) committee member Mike Dobson made an impassioned plea to the committee not to approve the scheme. Whilst PCF does not object to the development per-se, we have grave concerns that the transport plans make little provision for pedestrians and cyclists.
This view was backed-up by CTC Right-to-Ride representative Jon Spencer.
Whilst we are disappointed that the Lakeside development has been approved with inadequate sustainable transport provision, the developers, Highcross, have agreed to an open dialoge with us. We look forward to a useful and constructive relationship which will bring benefits to pedestrians and cyclists.
In conjunction with the CTC, Portsmouth Cycle Forum has produced a detailed assessment of the current strategic cycle routes in and out of Portsmouth.
The document provides an objective user’s view of the key cycle routes in to and out of Portsmouth. It assesses their safety, their usability by all types of cyclist and how well they meet the Department for Transport (DfT) and Portsmouth City Council (PCC) aspirations for cycle infrastructure.
PCC aspires to produce a cycle network interconnecting all locations in the city – good quality arterial routes in and out of the city are an essential element of any such network.
This document therefore provides a baseline to assist planning and development of Portsmouth’s cycle network.
The document is split into two sections – the main body which presents an overview and assessment of each route and appendices which provide detailed analysis of each route. Both are available for download:
Portsmouth City Council approved the first phase of the Southsea Seafront cycle route at the Cabinet Meeting on 9 November.
The route will be on the road between Eastney Swimming Pool and South Parade Pier, next to the promenade. The dangerous echelon (angled) parking bays will be replaced with spaces parallel to the road.
Portsmouth Cycle Forum welcomes this decision and we look forward to the opening of the route in the spring of 2010.
We spoke in support of the proposals at the meeting along with the CTC and the Portsmouth Disability Forum.
Southsea Seafront Traders were concerned that the loss of 150 parking spaces would impact their businesses, however the figures presented showed that these spaces were full on very few occasions during the year. At the busiest times, overflow parking will be available on Southsea Common and councillors agreed to look at other sites to replace the spaces that will be lost.
The permanent Park and Ride system will provide much needed relief to the parking problems in Portsmouth and Southsea when it comes on-stream.
The route for Phase 2, from South Parade Pier to Clarence Pier, has yet to be decided.
We will be working with Portsmouth City Council and other interested parties to ensure that it will be safe and practicable.