The News Comment: Near Miss Project could have benefits for everyone

A cyclist using the cycle lane on Southsea seafront
A cyclist using the cycle lane on Southsea seafront
Have your say

There may be some people who will read the story we carry today about the Near Miss Project and who will start a well-practised line of complaining.

This scheme aims to analyse where there have been near accidents on the roads and see if there is a pattern, so that the roads can be made safer.

Unfortunately, as our letters pages often prove, relations between car drivers and cyclists are not always cordial.

And no doubt a large number of people may react to today’s story with a list of complaints, including how some cyclists don’t have lights, skip traffic lights, and are a danger to themselves and others. These complaints, while often used unfairly to tar all cyclists, sometimes have a grain of truth in them – we’ve all seen anti-social cyclists, sure, but that doesn’t mean that every cyclist is anti-social.

But to the naysayers, we would ask this – how many times have you been on the roads of Portsmouth and thought to yourself ‘What this street needs is more cars’?

Because we would venture that the answer is not many.

As has been said several times before, we live in a cramped, congested city. Part of Portsmouth’s charm is that everything is relatively near everything else, and there’s a case that argues that its geography has helped create its strong sense of identity.

But action has to be taken to remove the dependence on the car, whether that is by better or more frequent buses, cycling, or encouraging those who can to walk around the city.

Any scheme which encourages cycling should be welcomed by all, whether their preferred mode of transport is on two wheels, four wheels or none. And, we would hope, the more provision is made to accommodate safe cycling, the fewer incidents of dangerous riding would be reporting. Because you shouldn’t dismiss a plan to improve the city’s roads for all concerned on the basis that a small minority of people act like idiots. Because if you did, nothing would ever change in any walk of life, ever.