Campaigners say cycling in Portsmouth must be made safer

Jon Spencer, chairman of Portsmouth Cycle Forum,  addresses the meeting
Jon Spencer, chairman of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, addresses the meeting
Portsmouth Crown Court in Winston Churchill Avenue

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CYCLISTS have vowed to campaign for action from by Portsmouth City Council to make the streets safer for cyclists.

At a packed meeting of Portsmouth Cycle Forum last night the horrifying figures of the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in Portsmouth were discussed.

The News revealed on Tuesday how only London cyclists have been involved in more crashes than Portsmouth which has seen 848 in the past five years.

Addressing the meeting on the issue, the forum’s Tom Hart said: ‘These are industrial numbers. We’re at peace in Portsmouth. There is no war going on yet these casualties are industrial. The council should not accept this as a given. They have to do something about it.’

Interrupted cycle lanes, badly connected roads, poor signage for cyclists and drivers and problems with lorries parking in loading bays – particularly in Albert Road – were all put forward as factors which make the city unsafe.

But Drayton and Farlington Conservative councillor Ken Ellcome urged the forum to consider the part cyclists play in accidents.

‘I regularly see cyclists going through red lights and racing across pedestrian crossings,’ said Cllr Ellcome.

‘Motorists do not expect cyclists to go across at that speed. I would like to see the cycle forum involved in trying to change attitudes.’

Lee Hunt, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Central Southsea, suggested the group become a trust because to enable it to bid for funding local authorities were not allowed to bid for.

‘It is an incredibly good idea,’ said Jon Spencer, forum chairman.

‘But an independent voice for cyclists is important and as soon as you’re getting paid by somebody you’re no longer independent.’

He added: ‘Portsmouth is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe.

‘A great engineering effort has gone into trying to make the traffic flow but it doesn’t flow and we’re still paying a big price in terms of casualties and vulnerable road users. Seeing as we haven’t managed to make the traffic flow anyway, can’t we do something else that will get the people round the city better and keep more people healthy, safe and alive?’