Category Archives: Infrastructure Issue

October 2016 – what a month!

Our interim Chair, Ian Saunders writes: as October comes to a close, it’s been quite a month for the cyclist in Portsmouth.

On the positive side of the equation we had a successful Pedal Portsmouth Glow ride last weekend on the closed roads along the seafront while the Great South Run was using the space. The Petersfield to Queen Elizabeth Country Park cycle track has finally been completed, and Ned Boulting’s one man show ‘Bikeology’ came to the New Theatre Royal to discover his thoughts on cycling culture and cyclists and experiences of the Tour De France over the last 15 years he has worked on it.

There has also been some new infrastructure ‘installed’ along the east bound Havant Road, although depending on who you speak to and their previous experiences, the addition of paint is either a positive or a negative in terms of giving space and creating awareness of cycling. And that’s just the cyclists!

However it is all overshadowed by the release of the cycling casualty figures for the UK, and Portsmouth’s place at the top of table of the worst cities to for cycle safety. Jon Spencer has outlined the salient points on our website here and although the figure of 888 per million of population is down from 2014, it is not coming down fast enough. Therefore we are now writing all PCC councilors and the city’s MPs to get them to commit to halving the accident rate by 2020 as was outlined in our City to Share strategy presented to them two years ago.

Amongst the recent news stories about cycle casualties, traffic congestion, and new infrastructure being planned and installed, we’ve seen comments from the Council Leader and her head of Traffic and transport, but not the cabinet post holder for the department. Six months into his tenure, we are yet to hear publically of Councillor Fleming’s plans on how to combat congestion and pollution in the city, other than increasing the fees for the third parking permit at an address.

A good place to start might be our next Open Meeting on Thursday 17th November, and he would also be able to hear Cycling UK’s Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen MBE talk about the second phase of their national Space for Cycling Campaign which will call on councils to commit to planning high-quality cycle networks, and to finding the funding these will require. Perhaps then we can start to reduce the unnecessary accidents on our roads.

And related to that final point, the clocks go back this weekend (October 29th), so the mornings and evenings will be darker and he days will (probably) be duller and greyer as we arrive in winter. Please ensure that you use your lights while cycling and ensure you are seen.

2016 Annual General Meeting

On the 21 April we had our AGM.  These are the minutes:

  1. Welcome and introduction by the Chairman.

Jon Spencer welcomed everyone to the Annual General meeting.

  1. Minutes of Annual General Meeting of 20 March 2015: They were approved without dissent.
  2. Matters arising from last AGM: None.
  3. Chairman’s Report 2016:  Jon highlighted the highs and lows of the year and thanked those who had given their support, time and financial contribution. The full text is published here:

Chair Report 1516

5. Treasurer’s report and accounts:

Roger presented the detailed accounts of the Forum.  Thanks to the increase in annual subscriptions from £5 to £10 last year we are on a much sounder financial footing, although there was a fall in members from 66 to 60.  This is being addressed by regular reminders for those who need to renew.  The report can be found on the website. The meeting approved the report without dissent.

PCF Accounts report 15-16

6. Elections:

Jon has been Chair for 3 years and is finding the commitment too much to bear.  He stood down and asked if there were any nominations for a replacement.  None was forthcoming so Jon has agreed to stay as interim Chair for 3 months.  He urged members to think about candidates and we will need an EGM to elect a new Chair.  Jon also asked for nominations for vice-chair and secretary.  Jon also explained a little about the roles.  No nominations were forthcoming and so both will need to be chosen at the EGM.  Roger was only candidate for Treasurer and was willing to continue.  Other roles for committee members were explained.

Chairman: Jon Spencer will continue for 3 months as interim.  Replacement to be decided at EGM.

Vice-chairman: to be decided at EGM.

Secretary: to be decided at EGM.

Treasurer: Roger Inkpen was the only nomination. He was elected nem.com.

Notice: an EGM will need to be held by mid-July.          

7. Committee members: A communications officer is needed to co-ordinate posts for the website, Facebook, Twitter and chase stories for newsletters. Jon Riding agreed to take this role.  Roger will continue organising rides.  The following were sole nominations and were elected nem.com. en bloc:

Joe McGannan John Holland
Mike Dobson Phil Kirkham
Tom Hart Nicola Waight
Jon Riding Jacek Kopecky
Matthew Winnington Ian Saunders

8. Close: The Chair thanked all for attending.

The AGM closed at 7.45pm.  This was followed by an exercise to follow-up the City to Share cycle strategy.  Feedback from this will be uploaded to the website.

New ALDI store to narrow Southampton Road Cycle Route

Aldi's new Paulsgrove store

 

Low-cost suopermarket chain, ALDI, received has permission from Portsmouth City Council for a new shop on Southampton Road, Paulsgrove next to Racecourse Lane.

At the planning committee meeting on 3 February, councillors agreed to the construction of an 1800sqm store with 113 car parking spaces.

Both Portsmouth Cycle Forum and Sustrans representatives made deputations to the meeting since the store will affect the cycle paths on both sides of Southampton Road. The north side path will be interrupted by a 15 metre wide vehicle entry and exit whilst that on the southern side, which is part of NCN route 236, will be narrowed to accommodate road widening for a new traffic light controlled junction.

The Cycle Forum has been critical of the access for pedestrians and cyclists onto the site and for the minimal amount of cycle parking. We were unhappy that the plans show little encouragement for staff to cycle to work since there was no evidence of secure cycle parking, showers or changing rooms.

Portsmouth Cycle Forum’s vice-chairman, John Holland said, “We have no problem with Aldi bringing a new store to this location but we do expect the well-designed facilities to encourage people to travel by sustainable means. Shoving a handful of cycle stands in an out the way location and degrading existing cycle paths is not the answer.”

Following the meeting, John Holland and Roger Inkpen met the applicant’s planning consultant, Dan Templeton of Planning Potential and Aldi property director Phillip Warner to discuss the plans. There is room for negotiation on many issues and the final provision for pedestrians, cyclists and others will be agreed with Portsmouth City Council under Section 278 and 106 agreements.

Central Cosham Improvements – Consultation by PCC

Portsmouth City Council is consulting on plans to improve Cosham High Street and has allocated £200,000 of public funds to spend on changes to the layout and street features between Vectis Way and Wayte Street.

Central to the proposals is the retention of the experimental one-way system which was introduced at the time of the closure of Northern Road bridge earlier in 2013. Cosham High Street was made one-way southbound between between Wayte Street and Vectis Way; Vectis Way and Wootton Street carried the northbound traffic whilst a short section of Wayte Street was made one-way eastbound only.

In addition to keeping this one-way scheme, changes in the plan include build-outs, trees and a significant increase in on-street parking.

Portsmouth Cycle Forum’s view on the improvements is mixed. We welcome the injection of £200,000 to improve the environment of Cosham but question the way the money is to be spent.

Our main comment is that the proposals focus on motor traffic flow and car parking with little, if any, attention to encouraging active and sustainable travel. The project’s worthy intention is to make this section of Cosham High Street a more attractive place to visit and shop but we don’t think that these proposals will achieve that aim.

At a meeting with the project team we learned that the most successful section of the shopping area is the pedestrianised northern part. We were told that it is not possible to make the middle section a pedestrian only zone because of the access needed to the adjoining streets, but it would seem sensible to reduce the traffic to an absolute minimum. This could be done by closing Wayte Street between Wootton Street and the High Street and restoring Wootton Street to two-way traffic. The High Street would remain two-way but with much reduced levels of traffic.

However, our impression is that traffic levels and speed are of no consequence; it’s the extra car parking that they want and that is the key driver to the scheme.

Recommendation 1 – re-present this consultation with at least three more choices including a “no change” option.

We understand that the proposals are largely as a result of consultation with local businesses. That’s all well and good, but the local businesses are not the only users of the roads. We suggest that the majority of road users are not local business owners. Have these people been asked their views? This “consultation” is not an open one. Here we are presented with one and only one solution. A true consultation should present several alternatives.

Recommendation 2 – Design the angled parking to modern standards as recommended by the Department for Transport, i.e. reverse in, drive out.

We looked at the parking and to our horror discovered that the proposal is for “echelon” style parking. Worse still, it’s of the old-fashioned and hideously dangerous, drive-in, reverse-out variety. The Department for Transport’s publication “Local Transport Note 2/08 Cycle Infrastructure Design” says “Echelon parking always needs careful consideration, regardless of whether the road is one­way or not. Echelon bays should ideally be angled so that drivers reverse into them. This means that they exit facing forwards and so avoid the need to reverse into the main flow to leave. It also means that, in contraflow cycling schemes, drivers again leave the bays facing approaching contraflow cyclists.”

Correctly align echelon parking – where drivers reverse into the space – is already in place on Baffins Road and Clarence Parade. Both are busy A-roads and the parking does not cause drivers problems.

Why did a highly professional design team come up with the wrong design for angled parking? Has there been some political interference?

Recommendation 3 – Allow two-way cycling in the one-way (for motor traffic) sections.

One-way streets increase travel distances. Whilst a motorist will not be greatly inconvenienced, anyone travelling by active means will notice the difference. Fortunately, pedestrians are permitted to travel in any direction on a one-way street but cyclists, who also travel under their own power, will be subject to the same restrictions as motorised traffic.

The prevailing speed limits are 20mph.There are many examples of two-way cycling on one-way streets in Portsmouth. Other cities have adopted two-way cycling in one-way streets widely, examples include Brighton, the City of London and the City of Westminster. There is no recorded increase in traffic accidents as a result of two-way cycling in streets where 20mph is the speed limit. Many cyclists will ignore the no-entry signs and ride on the pavements.

Recommendation 4 – Add traffic calming for Vectis Way and Wootton Street

It is well documented that with one-way streets, drivers become used to the lack of opposing traffic and increase their speed. The proposals for the High Street include build-outs and chicanes which will mitigate speeding to some extent but there are no proposals for traffic calming on Vectis Way and Wootton Street. We have observed that traffic on these roads often exceeds the prevailing speed limit.

Recommendation 5 – Provide one southbound lane only (not two) just north of Wayte Street and change echelon parking to parallel.

Immediately north of Vectis Way, there are two southbound traffic lanes in the proposals. Why are two lanes needed? They may have been justified when Northern Road Bridge was closed, but certainly not once reopened. This section also has echelon parking. We would suggest that the two lanes should be reduced to one and that the echelon parking is replaced by much safer parallel parking and on both sides of the road.

The Cosham High Street Improvements consultation now closes on 20 June. See http://www.portsmouthcc.gov.uk/living/29547.html for details.

No Crossings for Pedestrians or Cyclists at Velder Ave Junction

Closed toucan crosing at Velder Ave
Pedestrians go away!

Facilities for pedestrians and cyclists have been turned off at the busy junction of Velder Avenue and Milton Road for over 2 weeks. The junction, which is one of the busiest in the city, is used by hundreds of school children each day as they attend nearby Milton Cross school. No alternative crossings have been provided to protect pedestrians and cyclists using the junction.

Portsmouth City Council have explained that the current arrangement of the traffic lights is temporary and that the crossings cannot operate at the moment. Portsmouth City Council are unable to offer a firm completion date for the work.

The suspension of the crossings is part of the controversial £470,000 Eastern Road congestion relief scheme. This scheme involves redesigning the junction. Portsmouth Cycle Forum Vice-Chairman Jon Spencer said “The new lights have been in place and functioning for motor traffic for around a month, but there is no news on when pedestrians and cyclists will have a safe route across the busy junction. Pedestrians and cyclists are currently forced to dash across the traffic on their own initiative”.

This comes at the same time as Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has prevented cyclists and pedestrians from using alternative routes through St Mary’s Hospital. These traffic free routes were a popular way of avoiding the heavy traffic on Milton Road. However, due to building work at the St. Mary’s site the NHS trust has closed access.

Support for two-way cycling in Charlotte Street

No Entry Except CyclesCabinet 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.

 

Changes proposed to Bus and Cycle Lane at Hilsea

London Road bus & cycle lane northbound

Portsmouth City Council is considering making changes to the bus and cycle lane at London Road, Hilsea near its junction with Northern Parade.

There have been 11 accidents in the area since 1997 with 2 occurring in 2011. The latest involved an HGV turning left from London Road into Northern Parade which collided with a cyclist who was travelling in the bus and cycle lane.

At the Traffic and Transport Decision Meeting on 19 January, approval was given to spending up to £30,000 on safety improvements in the area. Engineers are proposing to shorten the bus lane by 200 metres to allow left-turning vehicle position themselves in advance of the junction. This would be at the expense of any bus priority and it would also require the removal of a bus stop.

Portsmouth Cycle Forum is pleased that safety work will be carried out although our preferred option would be to keep the bus and cycle lane as it is today and to ban left turns for vehicles from London Road into Northern Parade. This would maintain a safe route for cyclists and would ensure that public transport continues to have the priority it deserves at this often-congested location.

Engineers fear that the banning of left turns would cause displacement of traffic into residential streets such as Oakwood Road.

We are promised that a full consultation exercised will be carried-out before any changes are made.

 

James Callaghan Drive – we’ve invited Councillors and MPs to take a look on 25th November

view west along james callaghan driveYou 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.portsdown hill road

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?

portsdown hillThen we can promote this as somewhere that visitors and residents can go to have a family day out, portsdown hillenjoy 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.

second view of JCD

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

 

September news update


 

Open meeting this Thursday – 8 September

Everyone is welcome to our open meeting this Thursday the 8th September at 7pm. We have two guest speakers from Portsmouth City Council who will be talking about the Local Transport Plan 3 implementation plan and the Eastern Road Congestion Relief scheme with a focus on the implications for cyclists and pedestrians. Chris will be giving us an update on the Community Cycle Centre. We’d like to hear about your experiences of cycling around Portsmouth too, if you’ve got any issues maybe we can help.

A Frames and Slaloms ride coming up – 11 September

On Sunday 11th September we are meeting at the Guildhall at 10 for a tour around some of the harder to pass features around the city. We have some fantastic barriers to cycling in Portsmouth and they aren’t all psychological. We’ll show you the ones we have found and we’d love to hear about any more that you have discovered around the area.  This ride was inspired by a tour around similar lovely features in Manchester

Fish and Chip ride – 25 September

We are also planning another of our popular fish and chip rides, you don’t even have to eat fish to enjoy it, Fishy Friday Cycle Rideseveral regular attendees don’t! This time we are going Gosportwards to enjoy our feast at Lee overlooking the Solent. The ride begins at the Hard at 11 on Sunday 25th September and the ferry costs around £4.

longer lorries

CTC ‘longer lorries campaign’

If you want to oppose the plans to allow even longer lorries onto our roads then use the link on the CTC website to register your disapproval.

 

roller racingRoller racing at the Dog

On the last Thursday of every month Solent Bike Hub run a roller racing session at the Dog in Elm grove. Go along and test your cycling speed.

Community Cycle Centre

Don’t forget on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month from 10-12 we are at the Stacey Centre repairing and recycling bikes.

Palmerston Road street improvement works

The southern section of Palmerston Road, Southsea
The southern section of Palmerston Road, Southsea

The Cycle Forum met recently with Portsmouth City Council officers to see the current proposals for the street improvement works in Palmerston Road, Southsea.

The PCC Cabinet agreed to give the go-ahead to the scheme at their meeting in June and the intention is that it will be implemented sooner rather than later!

The section of Palmerston Road which will be affected runs from Osborne Road to Auckland Roads (East and West) and the intention is to provide a car free zone to improve the environment for shoppers, visitors and residents.

Note the term “car free” – this is not pedestrianisation since buses, taxis and cycles will still be permitted. These will be allowed to travel in both directions as they are today. Cars and private hire vehicles will be banned between the junction with Osborne Road and Villiers Road at all times. Delivery vehicles will be permitted between certain times.

The intention is to raise the surface of the road to be the same as the pavement although they may retain a small kerb or 60 mm.

PCC propose to move to move the taxi rank, which is used mainly at night, from Palmerston Road to outside Debenhams.

To stop “rat-running”, Villiers Road will be one-way westbound (except cycles). There will be changes to the junction at The Circle to discourage through traffic. The junction of Palmerston Road, Auckland Roads East & West will have a coloured surface.

We have asked that PCC should reduce the speed limit to 20mph as it seems odd to have a pedestrian-friendly street with a 30mph speed limit.

We have also asked that Auckland Road East and Aukland Road West should be made two-way for cycles.

PCC Traffic Light Review

PCC Traffic Light ReviewA while ago we posted that Portsmouth City Council is in the process of reviewing traffic lights in the city, and that they had already engagmed with taxi drivers in this review (here is a link to the post). We wrote to Cllr Fazackarley (member for traffic & Transportation) to offer our support, we then spoke to him informally to repeat the offer and then wrote again. Sadly no engagment has been forthcoming.  We were also not invited to the ‘public’ tour of problem junctions – this was only attended by carefully selected members of the public and not advertised for wider participation.

We did, however, get a great response from PCF members detailing their concerns with junctions around the city.  We have written these up into a report that has now been delivered to the Councillor.  We will keep you all posted of developments.

The report can be download here in PDF format.

City Traffic Light Review

PCC Traffic Light ReviewAs you may have read in the Portsmouth Evening News, the City Council is conducting a review of traffic signals across the city with the aim of removing ‘failing’ signals.  The News reported on 31 December that Councillors Fazackarley (executive member for traffic and transportation)  and Stubbs (conservative group spokesman for traffic and transportation) have toured the city with taxi drivers to understand their views on which junctions work and which don’t.

Tells Us What You Think

It is obviously vital that the views of cyclists and pedestrians are adequately and fairly represented in this process.  Traffic lights are there for the safety of all road users, not just to maximise the earning potential of cabbies.  Portsmouth Cycle Forum has written to the Councillors to request that they conduct both a cycling and walking tour of lights in company with members of the cycle forum.  In order for us to effectively plan this we need to know what traffic light controlled junctions you think are a problem for cyclists/pedestrians and why.  Please use the “Contact Us” page to do this.