Most dangerous roads are revealed...

DANGER ROAD Heavy traffic on London Road, North End.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves (121476-3)
DANGER ROAD Heavy traffic on London Road, North End. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (121476-3)
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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THE most dangerous road in Portsmouth is London Road in North End and Hilsea, figures reveal.

With 398 accidents over the past 10 years, the route tops the list as the city’s worst accident blackspot.

Eastern Road is some way behind with 235 crashes.

More worryingly, however, the Eastern Road has had more fatal accidents than any other route, with a number of motorcyclists being killed or seriously hurt on this busy stretch over the past decade.

The figures were supplied to The News by Portsmouth City Council’s road safety team through data obtained from the police.

Transport leaders say they have made great strides in the past few years to make Portsmouth a safer place to drive, walk and cycle, with speed limits being slashed, including along the Eastern Road, new cycle routes and the recent pavement-widening scheme in North End.

The fact that London Road topped the accident blackspot list came as a surprise to some, but not to others.

Many shopkeepers and residents still remember the horrific tragedy of 39-year-old mum-of-two Shinimol Jose, who died instantly under the wheels of a 17-ton lorry as she crossed London Road in 2007.

Last year the council banned HGV lorries using London Road, Twyford Avenue, Stamshaw Road and Northern Parade, under an agreement signed by freight companies at Portsmouth Port.

But people in North End say the route remains dangerous – mainly due to the sheer amount of traffic.

Lorries still use the road for shop deliveries.

‘It’s just a very, very busy road,’ said Anita Shepperd, who is assistant manager at Scope in London Road.

‘The traffic is horrendous and very busy even at 7pm. It’s constant.’

Ryan Reeves, 31, who works at The Furniture Factory, in London Road, was not surprised by the number of accidents.

‘When there’s a lot of traffic around, the visibility is not very good at all,’ he said.

‘People tend to cross the road where they want.’

He was concerned that current work to make the road more narrow could increase near misses as there is still the same amount of traffic using a smaller space.

The council also plans to move a pedestrian crossing to a more convenient place and widen another to reduce the temptation of pedestrians crossing at other places.

Meanwhile, Eastern Road is the focus of a major scheme by the council to increase capacity and safety.

This year, the Milton Velder junction has been modified and had improved pedestrian and cycle crossings installed.

The city council still has no plans to introduce more crash barriers along this route.

External safety experts were called in to assess options to improve road safety after an accident in 2006 left a man dead when his car crashed with a lorry heading in the opposite direction.

The driver was thought to have suffered a sneezing fit behind the wheel and police data showed this was an isolated freak incident.

More double white lines and studs were placed on the road to improve safety.

The view from cyclists – perhaps the most vulnerable user of the roads – is that Portsmouth has generally become a safer place for cyclists, but more can be done.

John Holland, chairman of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said education was key, improving both the awareness of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

‘We should be looking at road danger rather than just road safety,’ he said.

‘We have all got be careful, we all share the limited space there is, we should just get on with it.’

Pam Turton, Portsmouth’s assistant head of transport, agreed that human error was a major contributing factor to accidents. She said: ‘The accident statistics include all road user groups, and so there is a mix of factors that could be involved.

‘The most common contributory factors cited by the police are failing to look properly or failing to judge the other person’s path or speed.’

She said the council was focusing its education efforts on young people, with extra training being offered to young drivers, road crossing skills taught to children in schools, and free cycle training to all Year 5 and 6 pupils.

She added: ‘In addition to the work we do with road users, we also continually review the road network to ensure that it is as safe as possible for road users.

‘As part of this, we closely work with residents to investigate their concerns, and the police to ensure that we implement the appropriate engineering measures as necessary to improve the safety of routes.’

More 20mph limits on the cards

SPEED limits are set to be slashed on a number of routes in a bid to reduce the number of accidents.

Transport leaders are also proposing five pilot 20mph areas in Hampshire – following in the footsteps of the scheme in Portsmouth.

Hampshire County Council is planning to reduce the speed limits on parts of the A32 in Gosport, the B2150 in Waterlooville and the B2148 between Rowlands Castle and Emsworth.

A total of 48 routes have been identified for changes to the speed limit across the county.

And there are five areas where the new speed limit would be advisory.

The scheme, costing £450,000, would come in between now and 2014 and is currently out for consultation.

Meanwhile, five residential areas have yet to be chosen to pilot a 20mph limit.

The £200,000 scheme could be rolled out further if it proves successful.

Four years ago Portsmouth became the first city in Britain to have a 20mph speed limit on almost all residential roads.

John Holland, from Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said: ‘It has helped but we need more enforcement.’

Could more homes worsen A32?

THE A32 between Gosport and Alton tops the list as the most dangerous road in south Hampshire.

The route has long been known to have a high number of motorcycle crashes, particularly on the stretch between Fareham and Wickham.

Wickham councillor Therese Evans said she was shocked by the figures.

‘It’s very worrying,’ she said.

‘There are plans for 7,000 homes to the north of Fareham. It’s worrying that a road that is already overstretched and dangerous is going to taking an extra 14,000 cars.’

She added: ‘It’s a heavily-used road and traffic is driving too fast.’

Other roads topping the list are the A27 and A3, as well as semi-rural routes including the B2149 between Horndean and Rowlands Castle and the B2150 between Havant and Waterlooville.

Councillor Mel Kendal, who heads transport at Hampshire County Council, said: ‘It is important to note the length of the routes and amount of traffic they carry. The A32, A27 and A3 are very long roads that carry heavy volumes of traffic, so there is bound to be a higher number of accidents on such routes than on short, lightly trafficked roads. The fact is there has been a downward trend in the number of accidents on the three roads overall.

‘Police data confirms that driver error is a significant factor.’