The pedestrianisation scheme for the southern end of Palmerston Road in Southsea was always going to be controversial.
Sadly, we live in a world where the car and the anti-car lobbies are increasingly at loggerheads: isolated incidents of cyclists jumping red lights are used to tar the name of all on two wheels, and in return occasional cases of inconsiderate driving are used as a reason to blacken the reputation of everyone behind the wheel.
That remains the case. But one of the main problems with the Palmerston Road changes is that they are neither one thing nor another.
The road is nominally only to be used by buses, but the signs are confusing at best and hopeless at worst. And to give some drivers the benefit of the doubt, the road layout – see it for yourself on page 7 – hardly screams that it is a safe haven for those on foot and out of bounds for cars.
The local government ombudsman has now been called on to investigate the situation, but it shouldn’t take him long to work out what’s wrong.
It looks as if the council is faced with a choice – scrap it, or do it properly. And we would urge a full pedestrianisation,
It’s been said before, and indeed it’s self-evident that Portsmouth is an ideal city to encourage walking and cycling. The same geographical factors that cause it to lock up to traffic at congested times are the same that make it suitable for cycling – and as an added bonus it’s almost flat. But look at comparable cities in continental Europe and we’re years behind – not enough is being done.
The seafront cycle lane was well-intentioned and, after a few years, has become more successful and accepted by the majority, although it does have its flaws. We would like to see the council look to make some bolder steps towards citywide dedicated lanes, where possible off the roads, such as the one along Eastern Road.
We should glory in the fact you can walk across half of our city in 45 minutes. It’s a benefit to health and to convenience.
But any push needs to be backed by hard policy. Palmerston Road is a good place to start.