Route next to seafront would be a better option

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It was only a week ago that we were criticising cyclists for persistently riding on pavements or in pedestrian areas in Portsmouth.

We said they were causing an inconvenience and possible danger to walkers and couldn’t complain if they got caught as part of a combined police and city council zero tolerance operation.

But there are two sides to the coin and today we report how cyclists claim they are not being treated fairly by the council’s plans for a new Southsea bike route.

The proposed cycle path will cross Southsea Common and fill in a missing part of the 60-mile Shipwrights Way, linking up the Historic Dockyard with the Hayling Ferry terminal.

The idea is to fill in a section connecting Clarence and South Parade piers by having riders cross the northern part of Southsea Common on a strip of matting.

But is that really the best option? Hilary Reed, secretary of Portsmouth Cycle Forum and local rep for the Cycle Touring Club, doesn’t think so. She wants a bike lane alongside the seafront – and we think she has a point.

Because that would surely attract visitors and encourage cyclists to use it by making the most of what is a fantastic view out over the Solent and across to the Isle of Wight.

Yes, at a time when encouraging the use of sustainable transport is high on the agenda, it’s a step forward to be providing any sort of dedicated route. But she calls it ‘second best’ and we suspect there will be many cyclists who agree.

It’s not as if the proposed cycle path doesn’t affect pedestrians. About 100m of pavement on the southern side of Duisburg Way would become a shared cycling and walking path, as would a 50m stretch of pavement on the north side of Clarence Esplanade. Past experience tells us that walkers and cyclists don’t always mix well.

And what of the common? Would a two metre-wide strip of matting across the grass be an attractive feature? We have our doubts.

We can’t help thinking a dedicated cycle lane next to the prom would be more likely to be used and used responsibly.