LET’S transform Portsmouth into a cycling city.
That’s the message from the city’s leaders, who are looking to bring a ‘Boris Bike’ scheme forward in a bid to boost cycling numbers across Portsmouth.
We are supportive of any scheme that gets people to switch to a greener mode of transport – but the infrastructure has to be in placePortsmouth Cycle Forum’s Ian Saunders
It comes as Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, launched a campaign to drum up support for the initiative after speaking to former London mayor and current foreign secretary Boris Johnson.
Ms Mordaunt said that a cycle-hire scheme is necessary to elevate the regeneration of the city and offer alternatives to the car, launching an online survey for people to share their view.
She said: ‘We need a number of schemes to help people use alternatives to the car.
‘With the help of colleagues and transport experts I’ve been looking at whether a Boris bike scheme would work in Portsmouth.
‘I met with roads minister Jesse Norman this week to discuss the details of making a scheme viable.
‘It could work here with right commercial support and can see residents using the scheme as well as visitors. I’m keen to canvas the views of the wider public to feed into this idea.’
Portsmouth City Council is already talking to a host of parties who are ‘queuing up’ to bring in a similar community-hire scheme that could possibly launch next year.
Councillor Simon Bosher, the city’s transport boss, said that the scheme, in addition to a range of improvements planned for cycling infrastructure, would turn Portsmouth into a cycling city.
He said: ‘We have got operators queuing up to us looking to bring forward a scheme and we are in talks with the aim to bring forward the best option for the city.
‘We are going to apply to the Department for Transport to seek funds for infrastructure such as cycling hubs, but it seems that the operator would come in and fund a two-year trial at no cost to the taxpayer.’
Cllr Bosher confirmed that the University of Portsmouth was one of those interested in the scheme.
He added that provisional cycle hubs stocked with the bikes could be built in Guildhall Square, Clarence Pier and at The Hard.
It comes as the council was handed £550,000 from the Department for Transport to make improvements to cycling infrastructure along Eastern Road and to make changes at junctions.
The council has teamed up with Portsmouth Cycle Forum to plan where to amend cycling infrastructure.
Chairman Ian Saunders said: ‘We are supportive of any scheme that gets people to switch to a greener mode of transport – but the infrastructure has to be in place.’
Donna Jones, council leader, previously called for transport infrastructure cash.
She said: ‘We are committed to increasing cycling participation across the city.
‘We want a community bike scheme that makes it easier for people to get around the city and also exercise at the same time.
‘A community “Boris Bike” scheme will help achieve our vision for a cycling city.’