Cycle groups call for action as bike accidents increase in Portsmouth

The number of cyclists injured on Portsmouth's roads has increased
The number of cyclists injured on Portsmouth's roads has increased
Supporters stage a peaceful protest on the steps of the Guildhall in Portsmouth in support of toddler Alfie Evans and his family, with Gill Streeter, second right '''Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180457-1)

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THE number of cyclists injured on Portsmouth’s roads has increased.

Portsmouth had England’s worst rate of cycle accidents outside of London last year, new figures show.

Now, the Portsmouth Cycle Forum is asking for action to be taken to reduce the number of accidents.

The number of accidents in which a cyclist is injured has now increased to 906 casualties per million of population from 832 per million in 2012 – an increase of nine per cent.

Over the last year Portsmouth Cycle Forum has been working with Portsmouth City Council’s road safety officers, to understand why the city’s roads are so unsafe for cyclists.

The majority of accidents happen on Portsmouth’s A roads, with London Road, the A2047, being by far the worst.

Roundabouts also cause large numbers of accidents.

Jon Spencer, chairman of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said: ‘We call on the city council to recognise, following the lead of London and other cities, that cycling is now mass transport and must be treated as such.

‘This will be a great step forward, too, in tackling Portsmouth’s severe health and environmental issues.

‘The benefits of cycling do significantly outweigh the risks. Urgent action is needed to dramatically reduce these casualty figures. The people of Portsmouth deserve to feel safe when they choose to cycle.’

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of the council, said: ‘The safety of cyclists on Portsmouth’s roads is of paramount importance. That’s why I am already working with the Portsmouth Cycle Forum to try and improve road safety. I will be asking the traffic officers to look at the most recent statistics that have been released and come back to me with some recommendations.’

Councillor Ken Ellcome is the cabinet member for traffic and transportation at the council.

He said: ‘Any increase in accidents to a group of people is something we want to try and address. But Portsmouth is an island with limited road space. In terms of trying to change the priority at roundabouts and junctions, sometimes it’s not practical in Portsmouth.

‘We are trying to work with the Portsmouth Cycle Forum and other cyclists in the city to see what we can do.

‘I will also be talking to the police and seeing if they can run a campaign for people who cycle through red lights and cycle on the pavements.

‘It’s also about educating those who don’t comply with the rules of the road.’

Jon Spencer wrote an open letter to councillors asking them to make Portsmouth’s roads safer.

Tonight’s Inside Out programme on BBC1 focuses on cycle safety in both Portsmouth and Bournemouth. It starts at 7.30pm.