Cyclists call for safer streets in Portsmouth

A cyclist using the cycle lane on Southsea seafront.
A cyclist using the cycle lane on Southsea seafront.

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CAMPAIGNERS battling to make Portsmouth a safer place for cyclists were today to tell city leaders: ‘something has to be done.’

Portsmouth Cycle Forum was today to launch its ‘A City To share’ strategy in a bid to change the way streets are designed to better accommodate cyclists and encourage more people to get on their bikes.

It also hopes to reduce traffic congestion and help improve the overall health and wellbeing of the city’s population by encouraging more people to get on their bikes.

It comes after city council leader Councillor Donna Jones invited the forum to propose improvements when the group wrote an open letter to the council calling for just that in August.

Now the forum is calling for a cross-party group to be set up to tackle the problem.

It wants to research options to create designated space for cycling through the city on main routes.

The forum also wants to public transport operators to be consulted on how to support the increasing number of customers who switch to cycling after disembarking in the city.

And it is calling for a cycle safety action plan – in a similar vein to one already in place in London – to address the level of cycle accidents;

Jon Spencer, chairman of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said: ‘Something has to be done. We are not saying we should take everyone’s cars away and we are not proposing a congestion charge, we are just proposing that people have an opportunity to use their cars less. Portsmouth has got a safety problem so action needs to be taken to address safety. London has got the same problem and they have come up with a detailed and really strong cycle safety action plan. There is a great opportunity to turn that into an action plan for Portsmouth – we don’t have to start at square one.’

Mr Spencer added: ‘Only about 4.6 per cent of commuting journeys in Portsmouth are made by bike, which is significantly lower than the 16 per cent seen in Cambridge. We believe that with the right infrastructure in place Portsmouth could be an ideal city for cycling, and aim to see the percentage of commuting journeys rise to 10 per cent by 2020, and 20 per cent by 2025.”

‘Making changes to the city to enable many more people to cycle safely will benefit everyone. It will bring great benefits to the health, wealth and wellbeing of the whole city. The people of Cambridge are healthier and longer lived than the people of Portsmouth and we’d like to see Portsmouth catch up.’

Full details of the strategy were to be presented to city leaders at The University of Portsmouth today.