DRIVERS must be encouraged to swap their cars for bikes, the Portsmouth Cycle Forum has said.
Yesterday was the launch of a new strategy for cycling in Portsmouth.
The project was developed following the gridlock in the city caused by a lorry fire on the A27 in August.
Thousands of people were held up in the city after the road was shut.
It prompted Jon Spencer, chairman of the Portsmouth Cycle Forum, to write an open letter to Portsmouth City Council, published in The News, asking for a greater focus on cycling and cyclists.
He said: ‘It’s a strategy for cycling but it’s not just for cyclists.
‘The aim is to benefit all residents.
‘This is an ambitious decision but there’s nothing here that hasn’t already been done elsewhere.
‘This affects everyone in the city. The roads in Portsmouth are more dangerous than the national average. We need to make them safe.
‘Portsmouth should be a city where our children can go cycling.
‘We need disabled people to be able to cycle on the roads on adapted bikes without being squeezed out.
‘Cycling has become the third most popular participatory sport in the country so it has a huge potential to make an impact on the health.’
The strategy was unveiled to city leaders at the University of Portsmouth yesterday.
The delivery of the strategy will be divided into five key action areas: safety, transport, equality, leisure and planning.
It will include looking at where new bike lanes can be put in, creating a cycle safety action plan and promoting regular events to encourage people to cycle for leisure.
It will be overseen by a cross-party sustainable transport working group that will report to councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council.
One of the ideas was offering a guided bike ride around the city.
Cllr Jones said: ‘It’s a huge step to move on cycling to work. Giving people a guided cycle around the city is a great idea.
‘It’s about people taking that first step.
‘It’s absolutely essential that Portsmouth City Council sets up a partnership with the Department of Transport.
‘If we have an effective integrated cycling partnership, we will get priority access to new funding streams.
‘People will be more attracted to the city if it’s less congested here.’