Cars to be permanently banned from parts of two Portsmouth streets to avoid 'rat running'
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The temporary traffic regulation order (TRO), introduced in September 2020 for the eastern end of Canal Walk and the northern part of Somers Road, has been made permanent by Portsmouth City Council. The temporary TRO was introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to create additional space for social distancing. Now, the route has been identified as a popular active travel route in the city for those walking, cycling or using e-scooters.
The TRO affects a portion of Canal Walk between Somers Road and Bridgeside Close, and a 42-metre section of Somers Road between Canal Walk and Sydenham Terrace to the south is also affected. It was pointed out by councillor Simon Bosher that 55 per cent of residents of Canal Walk and connecting roads would prefer the roads to reopen to traffic. He then recommended the cabinet member for transport, councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, to refuse the TRO on that basis.
Councillor Graham Heaney pointed out that only 21 residents and businesses responded to the survey out of the 62 letters that were delivered to them. He also mentioned that some residents could have responded to the consultation, but only a few raised objections.
Councillor Brian Madgwick asked if the route would be accessible for those using electric scooters. Cllr Vernon-Jackson responded: “That is the point of it. That route along the northern side of the railway line – is a really heavily used cycle and scooter route. The point of the closure was to make sure that as people came down from east to west they weren’t met with traffic.
“The people I’ve heard moans from have been taxi drivers, but that was right at the beginning couple of years ago – since then it’s quieted down in terms of complaints because it was a rat run. My view is that I think it’s worked well and it should continue and be permanent as a way of making sure that people who use non-car means of transport have an incentive because it is perceived to be safer.”