Our latest accounts were presented at our AGM 15 March 2018. A discrepancy in the figures was spotted and this has been corrected.
Our latest accounts were presented at our AGM 15 March 2018. A discrepancy in the figures was spotted and this has been corrected.
Phew! Just finished another Friday night Exec meeting with so much content we overran again. Here’s a flavour of this month’s hot topics, and what’s coming up at our Open Meeting on 15th February and our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 15th.
EXEC UPDATE: After lots of activity on our Facebook page over the last couple of weeks, the Stamshaw Road and Twyford Avenue cycle lanes made it to “matters arising”. These two lanes are a key concern for members as they’re squeezed between a heavy flow of traffic and the dreaded dooring zone. We’re planning to discuss with with PCC and push for a redesign. Other locations discussed included Francis Avenue, Fratton Road Roundabout and Holbrook Road Roundabout where PCC has asked for our input on proposed schemes.
We also heard about PCC’s new “near miss” reporting tool which will be going live later this year – this is a really positive step to help cyclists report spots where they’ve been scared or annoyed by the behaviour of other road users, or perhaps even the layout of the road, and we hope it will help to identify locations for future safety improvement schemes. We’ll be providing PCC with feedback on a beta version.
With elections for local councillors coming up in May this year we have started planning a Big Bike Picnic to be held on 21 April where members can come along with their friends and families and discuss their cycling woes and dreams with the candidates to help shape the future of cycling in the city (and decide who’s most likely to help us get there!)
OPEN MEETING: Our next open meeting on Feb 15th will focus on our response to the City Centre Road proposal application and, as usual, Council Officers will be on hand from 6.15pm for their Cycle Surgery where you can raise site specific issues with them on a 1:1 basis. TAKE NOTE – Park Road/Anglesea Junction is closed for railway bridge repairs so you’ll need to take a different route to get to Richmond Building this month.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING: The AGM is fast approaching (March 15th) and as always, we’re on the look out for new committee members – we have some new posts opening up including “wardens” for 6 different areas of the city (on the island – north east/north west/south east/south west AND off the island east and west). The wardens would be our “go-to” people for local knowledge and having discussions with councillors. Could it be you?
Finally, Jon Riding will be presenting our cycling tube map which is a result of efforts by attendees at last year’s AGM. We’ve already started using this tube map to share our concerns and ideas for improvements with PCC.
UPDATE on Portsmouth City Council motion to support City to Share: (from Cycling UK)
On Tuesday 17 October 2017, Portsmouth Council passed a motion to support the Space for Cycling campaign which commits the council to plan a comprehensive network of high quality cycleways and allocates a minimum of 10% of the local transport budget to ensure cycle routes are built.
For more info, please follow this link.
Portsmouth City Council motion to support City to Share: Tuesday 17 October.
Portsmouth City Council will be considering a motion to support City to Share on Tuesday at their full council meeting. City to Share is the Portsmouth Cycle Forum document inspired by Leader of the Council Donna Jones’ challenge for us to produce a cycle strategy for the city.
We hope you also support this campaign so we can make Portsmouth a safer place for cycling for all of us now, and for future generations. We need to show how important this is an issue within the city. A properly designed and funded network of cycle routes throughout the city will help to cut congestion and pollution, improve journey times and personal health as it encourages those who believe the city is too unsafe for cycling to switch their preferred method of transport.
We’re calling for Portsmouth City Council to commit to a small percentage of the transport budget devoted to cycling infrastructure, increasing over the years to £20 per head.
The simplest way to do this is to show your councillors how much support there is. Cycling UK has produced a simple online webpage to allow you to send an email to your local councillors. This just needs some basic details about you to find your councillors.
We helped Cycling UK with the wording of the email so it has our support. You can of course add your own words.
We have our next open meeting on Thursday 21 September at the Richmond Building, University of Portsmouth.
At our last meeting in June we mourned and paid tribute to Tim Atkins. He was killed after being knocked off his bike on the Eastern Road cycle path. We have been pressing Portsmouth City Council to do something about the blind spots and pinch points for years and now our – and your – voices are being heard.
At the meeting we will hear from Cllr Simon Bosher, the city transport portfolio holder. He will be presenting the plans for the changes to the Eastern Road. These will be going out to consultation around the same time with a number of ‘roadshows’ taking place at the end of the month.
At our last meeting before the general election we were expecting the then MP for Portsmouth South, Flick Drummond to speak about her work in Parliament. Now she has some free time and will be with us to talk about the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling, of which she was a member. There will be time for questions after her talk.
We start at 7pm, so please arrive 10-15 minutes earlier.
The meeting will take place on Thursday 21 September at 7.00pm in Lecture Theatre 2 of the Richmond Building of the University of Portsmouth. We start at 7.00pm, so please arrive 10-15 minutes earlier.
As discussed at our June meeting, we have arranged a ‘surgery’ with one of the active travel and road safety team at the city council. There is the opportunity to discuss particular issues you have with cycling in the city. There is time for 4 slots before this meeting, and we hope to have some more in November. To make sure of your slot please find more information and booking form here.
Following the remembrance event in Guildhall Square, approximately 70 attendees cycled to the previously arranged regular open meeting at the University of Portsmouth Richmond Building as a show of support for their fellow cyclists in the city, led by PCF ride leaders.
Just as we were about to start, the late arrival of Portsmouth South’s new MP meant a swift re-arranging of the agenda, with Stephen Morgan addressing the room in what was his first visit back to the city since taking up his seat at Westminster at the start of the week. He had rushed back south after his swearing in earlier that day, and we were happy to be his first appointment back.
He described how as a non-driver, he cycles around the city, is only too aware of the issues that confront those on two wheels on a daily basis. At the start of the General Election campaign he announced his support for The City to Share strategy: https://stephenjmorgan.org/2017/04/27/citys-cycling-plan-backed/
Although it is only early days of his term, he took several questions that were mostly about local issues that highlight the dangers of cycling in Portsmouth, announced his intention to join the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group and will join our open meetings as often as he is able to.
We are very grateful to him for making the effort to get back for the evening and we look forward to working with him to improve the infrastructure, safety and perception of cycling in Portsmouth.
The first of our speakers for the evening was Darren Ord, the Traffic Inspector for the Eastern region of the Hampshire and Thames Valley Joint roads operation. He is also leading the ‘Close Pass Initiative’ which made the headlines of the Portsmouth News in April:
Darren, who is a keen cyclist himself, explained they picked up on the Close Pass initiative following the success and publicity around operations carried out in the West Midlands. It targets vehicles that passed too close to cyclists – actually policemen in a number of cyclist attires. It was felt that car drivers who do not cycle don’t usually look out for cyclists so may not see them.
So far 4 deployments across the Eastern region since April with 36 motorists have been spoken to and educated as to how and why they need to give space for cycling. They are keen to encourage the education aspect of the initiative, but those not wishing to take advice will be asked to attend a driver awareness course or be issued with a fine, much like those drivers caught speeding.
Asked whether the next step of this approach would be to accept videos from the public that show potential transgressions as a number of forces now do, Darren said that there were future plans to improve ‘third party reporting’ from helmet-cams which is not perfect at the moment. We hope to see this be rolled out in due course though.
Twitter users can follow @HantsPolRoads for more information and to find out what future operations are being carried out.
We then received an update from Portsmouth City Council Active Travel officers on the current and new projects that are taking place.
The new network of Quieter routes has recently been launched and these consist of 10 routes (five north / south & five east /west) across the city that aims to target those less confident cyclists to navigate their way around the city, mainly using the 20mph residential road network.
It’s not a finished product, not every 20mph road is safer than 30mph roads, but the selected routes have been casualty-checked to ensure they run along the statistically safer roads. PCC are aware that there are issues, however some of these could not be addressed with the initial funding package. The scheme has now attracted further funding that can be used to make actual infrastructure improvements.
The current year of the Local Transport Plan has funding for the following projects:
As part of the question and answer session at the end of the presentations, inevitably there were questions about the recent events that highlighted the dangers of cycling in the city. It was explained the specific incidents could not be discussed as they were currently under investigation. However as a general rule, after every fatality, there is a meeting to discuss possible improvements to the location, and once the ongoing investigation is finished, there will be a requirement to explain how and what is going to happen to ensure the situation does not happen again.
We would like to thank all our speakers for attending, especially at an emotional time for many cyclists in the city.
The PCF open meetings in the autumn take place on Thursday 21st September and Thursday 16th November at 7.00pm. Full details will be circulated once we have them confirmed. To ensure you receive these please sign up to our email bulletins here: http://www.pompeybug.co.uk/newsletters/
Chair, Portsmouth Cycle Forum
A happy new year to our members and subscribers. So what will 2017 bring the cyclists of Portsmouth?
As a result of winning some Government funding, the new Quiet Routes that PCC have been working on since last summer should soon be released. PCC hope that by identifying 20mph roads, a network of routes can be created that are quieter and safer for those less confident cyclists to travel around the city. This is a welcome initiative assuming that the routes are advertised and easy to follow once on your bike.
In conjunction with this work, an audit of all the cycling infrastructure routes and facilities has been undertaken by PCC, identifying the existing lanes, paths and parking that exist in the city. This information – together with the quiet routes initiative – will form the basis for a new Cycling map for Portsmouth. We will be studying this in great detail to identify the gaps in provision and work to improve areas that we believe do not serve cyclists to the extent that they should.
To that end, three of our committee members are attending the Cycling UK workshop day in London in late January to learn more about the computerized cycling tools that were demonstrated to us by Roger Geffen at our open meeting in November. Our intention is to ask our paid-up members at our AGM in March to then identify areas in Portsmouth that can be targeted for future development.
However, most of the traffic congestion is down to the sheer numbers of vehicles on the road. To make a real improvement in congestion, pollution and journey times for everyone, the city needs to get people out of their cars, and reduce the barriers that stop people using a bike to travel around.
We need to identify and push to develop the routes that commuters might like to use. Ideally, these should be fast, consistent, road-quality cycle lanes that are segregated from both road traffic and pedestrians with priority boxes at junctions and specific phasing on the traffic light system to aid safe resumption of one’s journey. The new lane is Goldsmiths Avenue appears to already have made a difference to traffic flows in the area for both vehicles and bikes. There’s no reason why having set a precedent there that other roads that have double yellow lining should not also be similarly marked with cycle lanes.
Copnor Road has space at the northern end to install segregated cycle lanes similar to those created recently in Brighton. With some extra shared path they could link up to the pedestrian bridge across the A27 into the Highbury estate and onto Cosham, encouraging those to the north of the city to cycle to work in the way that the Southampton Road and Langstone Harbour paths do from the west and east.
The perception of cycling in Portsmouth is that it is dangerous, and the official figures only back this up this impression. For the fourth year in the last five, Portsmouth ranks as the most dangerous city in the UK for cycling casualties. Ours is twice the rate of the London Borough of Waltham Forest, which has a similar population density to Portsmouth. Islington has a population density three times that of Portsmouth, and yet the cycle casualty rate is slightly lower.
The improvements in London with the installation of cycle lanes and mini-Holland schemes, the latest of which recently opened just the other end of the A3 in Portsmouth Road, Kingston-Upon Thames, proves that if the infrastructure is invested in, it is used and improves participation. A year on from its opening, and Waltham Forest’s much opposed mini-Holland scheme has seen traffic levels in 12 key roads in the “village” area of Walthamstow fall by 56 per cent, or 10,000 fewer vehicles a day. The most vocal business owner opponent of the scheme, has now opened up a coffee shop in his building.
These improvements are within the scope of Portsmouth City Council. However, as the cycling community, we need to build the pressure to improve things in our favour. Imagine Mini-Holland schemes during business hours around Cosham High Street, Albert Road or Palmerston Road – the latterly is effectively already installed – making the areas more pleasant to negotiate whether on foot, public transport or bike.
The re-development of the island’s flood defences over the next decade gives us the opportunity to create a true coastline leisure cycle trail to allow exploration of areas visitors may never discover.
Work on the western side next to Hilsea Lake from the Mounbatten Centre to Portsbridge Roundabout will start this spring, necessitating the closure of the much-used shared coastal path. Work is due to take three years, and there are plans to install a temporary cycle lane along Northern Parade. We are asking the council whether they are aware just how well used that path is. Not everyone will be confident enough to rode on a busy road, and so this appears to be an ideal opportunity to trial a segregated route on what is one of the wider roads on the island. And if it proves to be popular, why should it not remain installed after the work adding to the cycle infrastructure in the city?
With no local elections in the city due in 2017, the pull of the ballot box to appeal to voters has disappeared and some experimental schemes could be trialed, monitored and evaluated to see whether they work. Who knows, perhaps they may even lead to a reduction in the casualty figures?
But we can only do so much as a committee of volunteers. As much as we lobby, badger, cajole and complain at councilors and officers, we need help to keep the issues at the forefront of their minds in every transport and planning decision they take.
And it is with the creation of that bigger voice where you, the regular cyclist comes in. We need your support. We’d like you engaged in the process.
Bring to the attention of the council officers poor road surfaces or junctions that endanger cyclists. Enlist the support and lobby your ward councilors directly to improve our facilities and infrastructure.
In the event of an accident, ensure it is reported to the police, as official casualty figures are an important way to maintain the pressure on the local politicians to develop space for cycling.
Encourage the next generation getting on their bikes wanting to emulate Mark Cavendish or Lizzie Armitstead to use the roads safely and confidently, to be seen, and to respect other road users and pedestrians.
And please consider supporting or becoming a member of Portsmouth Cycle Forum.
I look forward to seeing you at one, or more, of our 2017 events or out on the road enjoying the freedom cycling can give you.
Tailwinds to all….
Acting Chair, PCF
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.
Portsmouth Cycle Forum needs a chair. I’ve been proud to serve as the chair of Portsmouth Cycle Forum for the last three years but work and family commitments are making it impossible for me to continue.
The chair’s role is to lead our campaign and act as a focus for improving cycling in the city. It’s been an honour (and I don’t say that lightly) to serve as chair and it’s with enormous regret that I’m stepping down. I do, however, intend to continue to serve on the committee to support the new chair.
I announced my decision to step down as chair at our AGM and at our Open Meeting in April. Unfortunately a volunteer was not forthcoming to replace me so I agreed to continue for an interim period of three months whilst a new chair was sought. That three months has nearly passed and I fear, as I have less time to steer the campaign, that things are drifting and momentum is being lost.
I’m hoping that there is an enthusiastic volunteer out there, willing to come forward and lead the forum on the next step of its evolution. We’ve done some great work developing a transport plan for the city in A City to Share and that’s ready to be taken forward.
Portsmouth desperately needs a strong cycle forum to hold politicians and local authority officers to account. Portsmouth is a city made for cycling yet it’s one of the most dangerous places to cycle in the UK.
A strong cycle forum needs a strong leader. Could that be you?
On the 21 April we had our AGM. These are the minutes:
Jon Spencer welcomed everyone to the Annual General meeting.
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.
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.
Our next open meeting will take place at 7pm on Thursday 19th March at the John Pounds Centre on Queen Street [map]. As well as the AGM, which should only take a short time, we will be continuing the debate on how to make space for cycling on Portsmouth’s main roads.
The debate was started at our last meeting but ran out of time. At the coming meeting we will reopen the debate and this time make sure there is time to listen to everyone’s views.
Some great ideas were presented by Tom Hart, Rich Boakes and Kathy Azopardi. Come along to ask your questions and throw in your views.
At the meeting we will be looking for volunteers to form a working group to take the ideas forward. This is the model we used to develop our strategy ‘A City to Share‘.
Included in the will be our AGM. Elections will be held for the following posts:
The other 7 posts within the executive committee are also up for election.
We aim to make the Forum as accountable and democratic as possible, and invite supporters to put themselves forward for these posts. Please reply by email if you wish to stand for any of these executive posts. If you have any questions, ask! If you have ideas about how the cycle forum should be run, or what it should be doing then please think about standing for our committee – we depend on enthusiastic volunteers like you.
Executive meetings are generally held once a month to discuss relevant and topical issues related to the Forum and cycling in general. They need not be onerous or time-consuming jobs – only if you want them to be!
Cycling in Portsmouth was the subject of a 10 minute film shown in BBC One’s regional ‘Inside Out’ show last Monday. The piece focussed on cycle safety following the recently published DfT accident statistics for Portsmouth which show us as being one of the least safe places to cycle in England.
The BBC film presents a good balanced view and features input from Portsmouth Cycle Forum, Portsmouth City Council and many cyclists and motorists. The show is currently available on BBC iPlayer (until next Monday) in case you haven’t seen it.
In the film PCC’s spokesman Oliver Wilcocks expresses the view that on many urban streets there simply isn’t room for cycling without demolishing houses. We’d like to take issue with this – cycling is more space-efficient that any form of transport other than walking after all. The issue – and the elephant in the room – is that car parking and car-friendly carriageways have been retrofitted to roads across the city and used every bit of space.
It seems obvious to say that the number of private cars driving and parking on Portsmouth’s streets has reached critical levels. Portsmouth needs to use its space better and that means more cycling. Cycling gives space back.
Portsmouth Cycle Forum held another well attended open meeting on Thursday 11th September. The meeting was very kindly hosted by the Southsea Coffee Co and we’d like to thank them very warmly for their generosity. We were delighted to welcome Claire French of Portsmouth Evening News to the meeting and are delighted that she published an article about the meeting the very next day – rather faster than we’ve managed.
Asha Lal of Portsmouth City Council gave an overview of the Wheels4All project. This aims is to give access to cycling via adapted bikes to those with physical and mental health issues, who could not manage to ride a conventional bike. They take individuals and groups and train them to use the bikes, usually for a day. The project is based at Bransbury Park and has lottery funds lasting up to July 2015, with the intention of opening another site at Mountbatten Centre. The project is run purely to give training on the adapted bikes and their insurance does not allow for the equipment to be taken off site.
The main focus of the evening was for Tom Hart to present our research into cycle safety in Portsmouth. Tom’s analysis identified the 21 most dangerous spots in the city and looked at the common factors:
The evening concluded with a wide-ranging debate of cycle safety. Once again PCC’s assistant head of service for Transport and Environment, Marc Griffin, gave up his evening to attend and provided much useful information to the discussion.
A full report of the meeting is here.
We’ll be hearing about Wheels 4 All, a nationally recognised programme that embraces all children and adults with disabilities and differing needs, to engage in a quality cycling activity. By using specially adapted cycles, the activities are both physically and mentally stimulating and above all fun for everyone involved.
We’ll also be presenting our research on the junctions in Portsmouth that are most lethal to cyclists. This follows our exposure of the shocking cycle casualty statistics for Portsmouth and PCC’s response to them at our last meeting.
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.
Join us for our next open meeting on Thursday 15 May at 7pm in room SEM5 of the Student Union building on Cambridge Road. The meeting will cover:
If you’d like to see better facilities for cyclists in Portsmouth and more people cycling then please come along. All are welcome.
Our next meeting is on Thursday 20 March 7pm at the Discovery Centre, Portsmouth RC Cathedral.
We’ll be reviewing the outcomes of the last two meetings and forming our plan about how we can put the ideas into practice. Remembering the support given by Gerald Vernon-Jackson (leader of PCC) at the last meeting we’ll be fleshing out our plan to catch up with Bristol. We’ll be looking for volunteers from the floor to start working something up – if you fancy getting involved – or just to find out more – come along!
This is also our annual general meeting. We have a committee that discusses campaigns and priorities of the Forum and we need to elect executive members for this. No experience is needed and you can give as much of your time as you can afford – so this is an invitation to stand. We have elected positions for Chair, vice-Chair, Treasurer and Secretary as well as up to 9 more committee posts to fill.
We’d love some fresh faces and fresh ideas on our committee – why not come along and put yourself forward. PCF has made real progress of late and is really starting to develop traction in the civic offices. We need to build on that but I believe we need enthusiastic members on our committee. I hope some of you will think seriously about this and ask yourselves – if not me then who?
Attached here are the chairman’s report and AGM:
Portsmouth Cyclists turned out in numbers last night for Portsmouth Cycle Forum’s “Dutch Style, Bristol Fashion” meeting. The room, provided by the University student’s union, was packed with riders keen to hear how cycling is being encouraged across the country. Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy director of the national cycling charity CTC and Eric Booth, chair of Bristol Cycle Campaign travelled to Portsmouth to share their experience.
The evening began with Dr Janet Maxwell, Portsmouth’s new director of public health, explaining the key role cycling has to play in the improvement of public health. Dr Maxwell, whose previous role was in Bristol said she would make it her aim for cycling rates here in Portsmouth to overtake those in Bristol.
Roger Geffen then introduced the Space for Cycling campaign. This campaign pushes for protected space for cycling on main roads and reduced risk to cycling on minor roads. Roger explained that a key challenge is to fund cycling properly. The UK currently spends about £2 per head on cycling, whereas at least £10 per head annually is required to really improve cycling levels.
Eric Booth then presented Bristol’s Freedom to Ride manifesto. Bristol has already achieved cycling levels of about four times those in Portsmouth, and has demonstrated that every pound it has invested in cycling has delivered benefits worth ten pounds into the local economy. To build on this success Bristol cycle campaign has developed a manifesto based on a map of proposed cycle routes. This has been so successful that the local authority has started to adopt it – committing to spend £16 per head annually on cycling for the next three years.
The speakers were then joined by Portsmouth City Council Leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson for a question and answer session. Councillor Vernon-Jackson met with an enthusiastic response when he promised that if Portsmouth Cycle Forum delivers a vision for cycling along the lines of Bristol’s then he would support it. Cycling has a vital role to play in improving health, reducing road casualties and reducing congestion on our streets.
Lord Mayor Lynne Stagg was on hand to promote her charity bike ride, which takes place on 23rd March starting in Victoria Park. There will be two routes on offer, one of 8 miles and one of 16, and there are several bikes to be won as prizes. All monies raised will go to the Lord Mayor’s charities – full details are on the My Journey Portsmouth website.
Today a driver received a 12 month ban from driving and a suspended prison sentence for killing a cyclist on a straight road in broad daylight. The court heard that the cyclist would have been clearly visible to the driver for some 11 seconds before the impact but for some reason the driver made no attempt to avoid the cyclist and struck from the rear with fatal consequences. The cyclist was the husband and father of a now devastated family. Read the news story here.
Contrast this with a case last December, where a cyclist was jailed for 12 months for causing serious injuries to a 12 year old on a pedestrian crossing. Once again, the pilot of the vehicle was inattentive and irresponsible – and undeniably at fault. Except that this time the consequences to the victim were less severe (serious injury rather than death) and the consequences to the perpetrator rather more severe (jail time rather than a driving ban and suspended sentence). Read the news story here.
There are obviously a myriad of differences between these cases, and care must be taken in comparing them. It is also beyond the ken of PCF to say either sentence is wrong on its own merits. We’re certainly not arguing that the cyclist in the second case didn’t deserve severe punishment for his actions. However, these cases do seem to betray a certain lack of consistency in the justice system and they do seem to back the CTC’s view that the courts do not treat cyclists fairly – either as victims or as offenders.
The CTC’s road justice campaign aims to change this. Have you supported it yet? If not, maybe it’s time you did.
Portsmouth Cycle Forum Open Meeting, 14th November 2013
Last Thursday Portsmouth Cycle Forum held one of its best attended meetings yet. The venue was the University of Portsmouth Students Union and the theme was to describe how the Dutch method of designing and building cycle routes could be used in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth resident David Brown has great experience of cycling in both the UK and the Netherlands – although as to be expected cycling in Holland is much easier, safer and so more attractive. David showed a film about the city of Groningen which, like Portsmouth is historically a military town with a network of narrow streets housing about 200,000 people.
The people of Groningen, which has gone on to become one of the most prosperous cities in Europe, radically redesigned their roads in the 1970s using a revolutionary planning approach. The result is that today over 50 per cent of all trips made in Groningen are made by bike – commuting, school trips, shopping and social outings. The people of Groningen benefit from low air and noise pollution, better health and a pleasant, liveable city. As a result, cycling is the preferred mode of travel for most people.
David went on to describe how, like us, the Dutch rebuilt their cities around the private car in the aftermath of world war two. However, by the 1970s many Dutch people were upset about their city squares being given over to car parking, attractive avenues being bulldozed to become multi-lane highways and the high level of death on the roads. Their demands for change led to the cycle-oriented cities we see today.
The Dutch approach to transport does not aim to actively discourage car use, but it does aim to promote sustainable transport such as the bicycle and public transport. Their road network is now designed with this in mind with all users of the road considered. Cyclists and pedestrians are not abandoned to their fate at busy junctions. Residents are free to use their cars when they need to but the equivalent journey by bike is inevitably shorter and faster.
Councillor Ken Ellcome (Drayton & Farlington, Con) explained the political challenges of adopting such an approach in Portsmouth. He was joined by Simon Moon and Simon Brownlie from PCC’s Transport and Environment team who generously gave up their time to discuss the practical planning and design issues.
Cllr Ellcome and his officers acknowledged that Portsmouth is already saturated with motor vehicles and any future economic growth could be hamstrung by transport and parking difficulties. There was lively debate around these issues, with residents calling for the city council to stop living in fear of a public backlash and take leadership to resolve the chronic transport issues that beset the city.
Portsmouth Cycle Forum chair Jon Spencer said “Cycling in Portsmouth benefits everyone. Every cyclist means one less car on our gridlocked streets. It means less pollution and less danger on the roads as well as bringing health and happiness benefits to the individual cyclist. The city council needs to show leadership on this issue and create an infrastructure that makes cycling pleasant and attractive. Cycling is one of the few viable transport solutions in a compact city like Portsmouth.”
The Dutch transport revolution has created pleasant, liveable cities with thriving local businesses. Citizens are able to navigate their city safely and without being regularly trapped in the gridlock that so often befalls the people of Portsmouth. Groningen itself has gone on to become one of the most prosperous cities in Europe.