Controversial plans for new Portsmouth cycle lane scrapped days before work starts
CONTROVERSIAL plans to create a new temporary cycle lane along a major Portsmouth road have been scrapped just days before work was due to start.
The city council has decided not to turn one lane of Eastern Road into a bike path amid concerns over congestion and increasing traffic levels as lockdown is eased.
Work had been expected to start on June 8 and finish a week later after other work by Highways England pushed it back a week, with the outside southbound lane between Anchorage Park and Tangier Road removed.
Councillor Lynne Stagg, the council's traffic and transport boss, said it had been a 'horrible' decision to make.
'We were very reluctant to do that,' she said.
'But traffic has been going up dramatically day by day and by the time the work would be finished it could be back to normal.
'We're not saying for a minute we're going to give in to traffic but if the cars started queuing on to the A27 there would be a lot of safety issues.'
It is thought the scheme would have cost around £100,000, which would have been taken out of a first tranche of £192,000 promised by government to make Portsmouth more pedestrian and cycle friendly.
Cllr Stagg added: 'This bike lane was only going to be temporary.
'We could put that money to better use.'
Other plans for the city, including improving the existing raised path for bikes and pedestrians next to Eastern Road, will now been considered. And ward councillors have been asked for their thoughts on specific areas that need improving.
A spokesman for campaign group Pompey Street Space, which had been pressing the council for a network of cycle safe roads, said: 'We hope this money will be put towards a joined up network of cycle safe streets through residential areas.
'We would like to see a cycle way that runs parallel to London Road through residential streets. This can be done in a low cost way.'
The U-turn comes as the proposals for Eastern Road had started to garner objections.
Portsmouth based car dealership owner, Michael Nobes, had set up the Keep Pompey Moving campaign calling for the plans to be scrapped. He said: 'Taking a lane out of this key commuter route will mean massive congestion stretching to Copnor, Baffins and beyond. No-one was asked about this and you can guarantee once this goes in, it won’t come out again.'
Tory Cllr Luke Stubbs agreed. He said: 'Eastern Road is a key route for people getting home from work, accessing businesses and accessing the football club on match days. It has always been busy, particularly by the pinch point where it merges into one lane. By moving that back I fear you risk having traffic queuing back on to the A27.'