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Collision witness says Southsea cycle lane must be scrapped

A woman who witnessed the first serious accident on a new seafront cycle lane has called for it to be scrapped.

Alison Pople watched in horror as a woman walked into the path of a cyclist as she tried to reach the pavement.

She was taken to hospital with head injuries after the accident on the controversial new two-lane cycle path which runs between South Parade Pier and Eastney, Southsea.

Mrs Pople, from Denmead, said: 'I've travelled all over the world and I've never seen anything like it anywhere.

'It's ridiculous and should be abandoned.'

The Portsmouth City Council scheme was introduced to give cyclists somewhere other than the promenade on which to ride.

The cycle lanes run immediately alongside the prom on what were formerly dozens of herringbone-style parking bays.

Drivers now have to park nose to tail on the outside of the cycle lanes in bays which have reduced the width of the road and from which car doors open directly into the path of riders.

Pedestrians now have to cross two lanes of traffic as well as two bike lanes to reach the safety of the pavement.

Mrs Pople, who was visiting the beach with her husband and six-year-old daughter, was parked in one of the new bays when the accident happened.

She added: 'When we pulled up I said to my husband, "this is an accident waiting to happen". Five minutes later it happened in front of my car.

'What the city council has done, in effect, is to allow parking down the middle of two roads.'

John Whitfield, of Thruxton Road, Havant, who also saw the incident, said: 'As a motorist and a very keen cyclist I can see more incidents happening. All that the city council has done is halved the amount of parking spaces between Eastney and South Parade Pier, and as a cyclist it has proved that the cycle lane is not guaranteed safe to use.

'After this accident I will not use the cycle lane. I will either use the pavement - and I don't care what people say - or even better not go to Southsea but Hayling Island instead, which is a great pity.'

John Holland, the chairman of the Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said: 'A safe route for cycling along the length of Southsea seafront has been city policy for many years.

'It is important that it is completed - not just for cyclists but also to address the problem of cycling on the promenade.'

He said its design was a compromise to balance the needs of all users.

'New schemes also take time to bed in. It is very difficult to persuade a motorist to accept a change like this.

'On the other hand, how are we going to persuade people to take healthy and enjoyable exercise if we don't provide them with the facilities to do so?'

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