An open letter from the Pompey Street Space campaign to Portsmouth City Council

CAMPAIGNERS are continuing to urge the council to make changes to how people travel in Portsmouth.

Friday, 5th June 2020, 3:37 pm
Updated Sunday, 7th June 2020, 6:05 pm
Pompey Street Space is calling on improvements to be made to the city's cycling and walking infrastructure

The Pompey Street Space group has written an open letter to Portsmouth City Council, which has been signed by 69 residents, politicians and city figureheads including Rev Canon Bob White, MP Stephen Morgan and footballer Christian Burgess.

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Calls for city to be made more cyclist and pedestrian friendly

In the letter it said: 'Pompey Street Space is a campaign calling for Portsmouth City Council to make our city safe for residents to walk, wheel, shop and cycle whilst keeping two metres apart.

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'Since the lockdown, the number of residents walking and cycling has risen hugely. The cleaner air, more audible bird song and peaceful streets have been a revelation for many of how our city could be.

'However, now the lockdown is easing, people are returning to work, and traffic levels are rising.

'On top of this the government has advised against using public transport, so there is a real danger that cars become the default mode of socially distanced travel.

'For Portsmouth, as the most densely populated city in the UK, that would be a public health disaster. To give just one example: shopping in places with narrow pavements like London Road would be virtually impossible without stepping into the path of traffic.

'It would also mean going back to a severe congestion, harmful levels of air pollution, and some of the most dangerous roads for cyclists outside of London.

'We don’t have to do this. Instead we have a unique opportunity to create a city that is greener, healthier and more prosperous.

'This is why we are calling for the council to immediately:

Widen narrow pavements in busy streets so that people can keep two metres apart whilst walking, queuing for shops etc.

Create a comprehensive city-wide network of roads that give priority to cyclists and pedestrians

Create more commuter cycle routes to allow people who usually travel by public transport to get quickly and safely to work by bike.

'These changes need to happen quickly, and as Croydon, Manchester, Brighton and other cities have shown they can be put in place using low cost "pop up" measures such as footway extension, thermoplastic tape, bollards and planters.

'We acknowledge the council are taking vital steps in this direction, and welcome the "quick wins" that they have announced in the south of the city; however the key demand of our campaign is that these measures become a joined up city-wide network, so everyone in Portsmouth can walk, wheel and cycle safely.

'We also recognise that the council is under pressure financially and in terms of staff capacity. This is why our core campaign team are happy to work with them to identify priority cycle and pedestrian routes throughout the city, and build support in the community for the changes that need to happen.

'Together we can make our city safe for walkers and cyclists: but we need to act now and be bold.'

The council's response

The council's traffic and transport boss, Councillor Lynne Stagg, said: ‘We are working on these kinds of improvements at the moment but people have to understand how long it takes. You can’t just go out and start changing the road systems, it needs a lot of planning and all the measurements.

‘We are expecting £192,000 in the first tranche of funding from the government for a transport review and we will use this to make the changes.’

As part of the review into transport the council has closed three city centre roads to cars and installed two new bus stops in Unicorn Road and London Road.

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