POLICE are investigating violent threats made against cyclists in a row over bus lanes being opened up to the whole taxi trade.
Bike campaigners say people have threatened on Facebook to stab them and ‘run them off the road’ as they are against private hire drivers wanting to share their road space in Portsmouth.
Hackney drivers already use the city’s bus lanes – but the rest of the trade has demanded they get the same rights to relieve pressure on roads and boost the speed of their service.
But Tory traffic boss Ken Ellcome has warned a ‘war’ could break out between cyclists and drivers if differences are not settled.
Jon Spencer, of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said personal threats were made after a Facebook group was set up advertising a council meeting last night over the bus lane issue.
‘There were comments which made reference to stabbing cyclists, and there were a lot of points made that cyclists would be run off the road,’ he said.
‘Inevitably, it was a small minority but it’s just disappointing they couldn’t debate the issue sensibly. We are concerned something will happen to cyclists somewhere because of that discussion.’
Cllr Ellcome decided last night to delay whether to allow taxi drivers working for private firms the use of city bus routes until the summer.
He said time needed to be spent assessing health and safety issues and camera enforcement on bus routes need to come in first.
The meeting was called after a petition signed by 1,800 taxi drivers called for bus lanes to be opened up.
Aqua Cars driver Pete Stothers, who set up the petition, said drivers were being ‘victimised’.
‘The traffic situation is at breaking point and this won’t get any better with the creation of new houses,’ he said.
‘The people of Portsmouth deserve a transport system that is efficient.’
Despite this, concerns were raised about the impact it would have on road safety. It was said more accidents involving taxis happen in Portsmouth than the rest of Hampshire – and taxi drivers were largely at fault. And Mr Spencer warned it would ‘quadruple’ the number of vehicles using bus lanes and leave cyclists at risk.
Dervla McKay, First Bus general manager, said there were already issues with motorists ‘weaving in and out’ of bus lanes to beat queues.
Hampshire Constabulary said it is carrying out a ‘nuisance communications investigation’ into the Facebook messages.
No arrests have been made.
A force spokeswoman said: ‘A great deal of effort has been made to identify the author of the comments.
‘So far this has not been possible. The investigation remains open.’
Anyone with information can contact the Resolution Centre on 101 quoting 44150035428.
To read our story about Twitter politics at Portsmouth City Council click here.
To read The News’ view on social media issues click here.