Cyclists say safety is a big issue ahead of elections in Portsmouth

Portsmouth Cycle Forum members 'Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180344-002)
Portsmouth Cycle Forum members 'Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180344-002)
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CYCLISTS urged politicians vying for their votes ahead of the upcoming local elections to continue making Portsmouth a safer place to ride around.

With the local elections fast approaching on May 3, the Portsmouth Cycle Forum hosted a ride with candidates and cycle enthusiasts to pitch ideas and hear plans on how things could be taken forward.

The death of cyclist Tim Atkins last June has sharpened focus from all political parties on safer cycling.

Speaking after undertaking a ‘safer-route’ ride of just under two hours from Portsea to Farlington Marshes before basking in the sun along the coast to Southsea Common, chair of Portsmouth Cycle Forum Ian Saunders said he was confident more would be done for cyclists.

‘Cycling in Portsmouth is not as safe as it should be so it is a good opportunity to speak to candidates about what they plan to do before making a decision who to vote for,’ he said. ‘The route we went on showed there are safe cycle routes around the area but the city as a whole needs to be more cycle-friendly, so we hope there will be more changes that reflect this in the future.’

Cycling UK infrastructure campaign manager Tom Guha, who was on the ride, said: ‘The death of Tim Atkins was not the fault of the other cyclist he collided with or the van driver – it was the infrastructure of the city that let him down.

‘Since then there has been a lot more activity to make the city safer across party lines, but more work needs to be done. With up to a third of seats likely to be filled by newcomers we want to ensure they carry on championing the good work that has been started.’

Liberal Democrat candidate Tracy McClure insisted if she was elected ‘every decision’ concerned with roads would have an equal focus on cyclists.

Tom Coles, Labour Party candidate for Fratton, said ‘cyclists take their life in their hands so more needs to be done’.

Simon Bosher, Conservative Party candidate for Drayton and Farlington, vowed to continue investment on infrastructure, making cycling available for all and educating children in schools.