Safety must be the main consideration on the roads

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Most motorists who live in Portsmouth will have spent hours of their life sitting in their car on the Eastern Road.

It’s one of the constant laws of living in this city – never assume you can get anywhere particularly fast, and sometimes be resigned to the fact that the rush hour seems to last all day.

However, while we accept our fate of geography and the nature of being an island city, it doesn’t mean that nothing can be done about it.

As we report today, Eastern Road has been the focus of some study by the city council. Over the last few years, it has examined the possibility of making the length of the road a dual carriageway again, and has put some thought into whether individual junctions could be improved.

To take the latter point, it’s fair to say that the changes to the Velder Avenue/Milton Road junction at the south end of Eastern Road have been a success, certainly in terms of getting vehicles through that set of traffic lights. In general the queues move more quickly.

But work has stalled on the drive to open up Eastern Road, and that’s because the highways officers have reservations about cars turning into Hayling Avenue and other side streets in that area.

And, to be frank, if the argument becomes a matter of weighing up traffic speed and safety, then safety must prevail every time – no contest.

That’s not to say that Cllr Luke Stubbs is not right to question the decision to pull back from the plan; debating ideas and schemes in public is part of what makes a democracy. But we would have reservations about increasing the likelihood of a collision just for the sake of making it into Milton or Eastney five minutes quicker.

As mentioned earlier, some traffic jams just have to be accepted on our island. We would like to see more quicker-moving traffic, but not at any cost. There are other solutions – cycling and public transport among them – that could help to end the car’s primacy in our society, although that time does not appear to be coming soon.

So until then, we have to keep out roads as safe as possible.