Heartbroken family unite with cyclists in safety demands after Southsea dad's crash death

A HEARTBROKEN family has united with a grieving cycling community to demand an end to cyclists' '˜needless deaths'.

Friday, 16th June 2017, 2:02 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st June 2017, 3:21 pm
Cyclists at a rally in Guildhall Square on Thursday evening to remember cyclist Tim Atkins, of Kingsley Road, Southsea, who died on the Eastern Road. Picture: Sarah Standing (170783-3575) PPP-170615-214105001

More than 150 cyclists rallied at Guildhall Square for the courageous family of cyclist Tim Atkins, 48, who died this month in a crash on Eastern Road.

Together they said something must be done before another family’s life is ‘ripped apart’ – and pointed out safety concerns had been raised to the council.

Standing alongside family and watched by members of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, pub landlord Tim’s sister Joanna said the council had ‘failed’ Tim, of Kingsley Road, Southsea.

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Jon Spencer, right, Portsmouth Cycle Forum committee member, with left, Tim Atkins' family. Picture: Sarah Standing

‘Sadly tonight’s protest is too late to save Tim,’ said forum member Laura Cook, reading a visibly upset Joanna’s prepared speech.

‘The section of path near the Great Salterns Harvester has no line of sight in either direction, and lacks room for two cyclists to pass each other safely.

‘This accident could have been avoided, for example by installing a barrier at the point where the cycle path narrows considerably.

‘We feel the council and highways department have failed Tim, and action must be taken before another family is ripped apart. To try to put into words the impact his death has had on our family is impossible.’

Jon Spencer, right, Portsmouth Cycle Forum committee member, with left, Tim Atkins' family. Picture: Sarah Standing

Along with forum members, Tim’s family said the Southsea father’s death could have been prevented if the council had listened to warnings about the path.

They are asking for a ‘new attitude’ towards road safety, as well as urging the council to take on board the forum’s city cycling strategies.

It comes after Tim was riding along the path near the Burrfields Road junction with Eastern Road when he collided with another cyclist and fell into the busy highway, before being hit by a van, on June 2. He died at the scene.

At an open meeting led by the forum after the rally, city council travel officers James Luckman and Nick Scott confirmed the site where Tim died has been visited and reviewed with police, following a casualty reduction partnership meeting.

‘The love and compassion Tim had for others shone from him, but his biggest love was his little girl, who will now miss out on experiences with her daddy,’ Joanna added in the speech.

‘A comforting hug, or the wipe away of tears when her heart is broken.

‘His loss should provide more than enough proof that action must be taken in order to protect others.’

Last night Portsmouth Cycle Forum committee member Jon Spencer was leading the call-to-arms on behalf of the cycling community.

He was previously chairman of the forum and led the group’s cycling strategy, Portsmouth – A City to Share.

Speaking to The News, Mr Spencer said: ‘We’re here to mark the tragic loss of one of our own, a man cycling home on what should’ve been a safe cycle path.

‘Tim’s heartbroken family stand here with us today to ask for a new beginning.

‘A beginning of a new attitude towards cycling in Portsmouth, and a determination to tackle the safety problems faced by cyclists and pedestrians.

‘Our forum has reported many times that Portsmouth is, according to statistics, the most dangerous city to cycle in England.

‘But we’re not here to dwell on the past, we’re here to ask for better in the future.

‘We’re asking the council to draw a line under the needless deaths on our cycle paths, and to commit to the objectives we’ve presented to them.’

Mr Spencer said he thinks this will drive some action towards something being done on the stretch of the Eastern Road.

Duncan Dollimore, from Cycling UK, paid tribute to Tim. He said: ‘Tim’s death needs to be the catalyst for change.

‘It’s a complex issue to address infrastructure somewhere as congested as Portsmouth, but it simply isn’t satisfactory for a city that’s been at the bottom of the casualty statistics for cycling, for four out of five years, to say it’s too difficult to do.’