OUR roads need to be made safer – that’s the message from city leaders as figures show that more cyclists are getting hurt on Portsmouth’s streets than anywhere else outside London.
The Department for Transport has revealed that compared with other cities around the UK – more bike riders were involved in accidents in Portsmouth in one year.
The figure – 832 cyclists injured per one million of the population – makes it the most hazardous place for cyclists to be, bar 11 London boroughs which have worse statistics.
In the past five years, 848 cyclists in the city have been involved in crashes – one died, 156 suffered serious injury and 691 were slight knocks.
Tom Hart, who is on the committee for Portsmouth Cycle Forum, which campaigns for cyclists’ rights, said: ‘Every time you cycle along an A-road in Portsmouth, you quite often feel that you could end up having an accident.
‘There is too much traffic and there isn’t enough provision for cyclists, so the cyclists have to make do.
‘Quite often you are in a situation where there are two lanes of traffic, a line of parked cars on one side, and someone is trying to squeeze in past you and a lorry is also coming towards you.’
Councillor Lynne Stagg, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, said irresponsible motorists were partly to blame for the problems.
‘There are some roads with particular problems because of cyclists and drivers – we have some horrendous drivers in Portsmouth,’ she said.
‘It’s a combination of lots of things. ‘Our roads are also lined with parked cars because so few homes have garages, and those who have them rarely use them.’
And Cllr Stagg said a speed check in Tangier Road clocked cars doing 49mph in what is a 30mph zone.
Cllr John Ferrett, Labour group leader, said the introduction of 20mph roads had helped to relieve pressure on the road network, but thinks cyclists would be even more protected if the city’s speed cameras were switched back on. As someone with children who are cyclists, I am a big supporter of safer roads for Portsmouth’s cyclists,’ he said.
‘One thing that is a concern is the fact speed cameras in the city are turned off and they should be used.’
Bike campaigners believe sections of the city’s road network are ‘too narrow’ to safely accommodate the volume and mix of everyday traffic.
Cllr Jason Fazackarley, cabinet member for traffic and transport, said: ‘An injury or fatality is a concern and no local authority wants to see any accidents involving residents, cyclists and motorists. We are trying to improve cyclist facilities in the city and we have extended specific lanes just for cyclists.’
The statistics highlighting the number of casualties amongst cyclists will be discussed at a meeting.
Portsmouth Cycle Forum will talk about the findings at its next open meeting tomorrow, which is being held at the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union from 7pm.
It comes after the group published a cycling manifesto which calls for cycling to be made more attractive and for roads to be made safer. Its also written to candidates in the local elections with their views. The manifesto will be on the agenda at tomorrow’s meeting.