Portsmouth survey reveals desire to ditch cars in favour of walking, cycling and public transport

ADVOCATES for sustainable travel have been urged to walk the walk after survey results from The News pointed to a potential reduction in personal car journeys after lockdown.

Monday, 26th October 2020, 7:00 am

It comes after The Big Conversation, a post-lockdown survey run by The News, asked people in the Portsmouth area which elements of pre-pandemic life they believe ought to change.

Of the 1,043 people who took part, 70.59 per cent said they see action to encourage more journeys on foot, by bicycle or public transport to be important or very important right now.

Portsmouth City Council was recently awarded £214,515 from government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund to boost city cycling and walking in response to the pandemic.

The existing non-segregated bike lane in Elm Grove in Portsmouth on August 28, 2020. Picture: Habibur Rahman

And one project soon to stem from the cash injection, a three-week trial of a fully-segregated bike lane in Elm Grove, Southsea, has been pinpointed as an ‘interesting’ test of our survey’s figures.

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Ian Saunders, chairman of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said: ‘If the survey said 70 per cent of people were in favour of those modes of transport, I think that would probably be about right.

‘But it’s the differentiation of them saying an increase in those modes of travel is important or very important that’s key out of more than 1,000 returns.

‘I’m quite surprised it’s that high – but I’m glad it is – because it’s only with people being aware of these things and partaking in them that things can change.

‘People who support measures like the ones soon to be trialled in Elm Grove really need to tell both the council and the nearby businesses that they’re going into that they support them, because that’s how they’ll be successful.

‘Otherwise we will face a vocal minority who say “this is no good” – and the council work on the basis of that feedback – and we won't progress any further.’

In a study carried out at the road’s junction with Grove Road South over the past three Wednesdays, Mr Saunders has found an average of ‘around 75 cyclists’ have been using Elm Grove between 6pm and 6.45pm.

Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for traffic and transportation, Lynne Stagg, recently told The News she hopes the measures along the route will pave the way for more cycle lanes – getting more people out of cars and reducing the city’s high levels of pollution.

In the same vein, 65.23 per cent of Big Conversation respondents also said they believe action to reduce the number of journeys by car is either important or very important right now.

An additional 68.01 per cent think affordable and carbon-neutral housing is currently important or very important.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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