Groups urge council to 'seize the opportunity' to improve travel in Portsmouth with funding bid

CAMPAIGN groups are urging the council to 'seize the opportunity' to create safer travel for all with its first bid for government funding, after the proposals for a new cycle lane were scrapped suddenly.

Friday, 5th June 2020, 6:11 pm
Updated Friday, 5th June 2020, 6:24 pm
A new bus stop at Unicorn Road in Portsmouth that has been installed to help passengers with social distancing. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

Portsmouth City Council today (June 5) submitted its bid for £192,000 from the government - which is set to be the first instalment of a total grant of almost £2m - to improve cycling and walking in the city as lockdown eases.

Details of how the cash will be spent in Portsmouth have yet to be released but improvements, for which work will need to start within four weeks of getting the funding, will be temporary to begin with.

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Plans for new bike lane in Portsmouth scrapped days before work was due to start

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The council has submitted a bid for £192,000 to improve cycling and walking in the city. Pictured is an existing cycle lane in Goldsmith Avenue, Southsea. Picture: Malcolm Wells (191014-8331)

The council's traffic and transport boss, Councillor Lynne Stagg, said: 'With all the temporary measures we have planned we will continue to monitor the ever-changing situation during the pandemic and adapt our plans if needed.

'As stated in the plan, our focus is on cleaner, greener travel, keeping people safe as they travel and keeping the roads moving.'

It comes as proposals to create a new temporary bike lane along part of Eastern Road were scrapped just four days before work was due to start.

Cllr Stagg added: 'We made the difficult decision to pause the current plans for the Eastern Road temporary cycle path, however it remains a key aim of the city council to improve facilities for cyclists on the Eastern Road.'

But advocates for safer and greener travel in the city admitted the delays had been 'disappointing.'

Ian Saunders, chairman of the Pompey Cycle Forum, said: 'Other cities like Leicester, which is a similar size to us, managed to put cones out early on to create new bike lanes for key workers to use safely.

'So it is disappointing to say the least that nothing has been done yet. But we will have to see the plans and hopefully they will seize this opportunity.'

A Pompey Street Space spokesman agreed. 'Traffic levels on Copnor Road are higher than before the lockdown and this is with most shops still shut,' he said.

'Imagine what traffic volumes, congestion and air pollution will be like after June 15 once the economy properly reopens?

'The council have to act now and put in safe cycle commuting routes as soon as possible.'

As part of some changes to travel in the city the council has so far closed three city centre roads to cars and installed two new bus stops.

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