At the Cycle Forum’s meeting on 8 September, Pam Turton and Adam Bunce of Portsmouth City Council spoke about the Eastern Road and Velder Avenue/Rodney Road junction improvement schemes.
The plans include: reinstating the 2nd southbound vehicle lane on Eastern Road between Swordands Road and Kirpal Road (with the removal of two crossing points at pedestrian refuges); removing the traffic lights (and pedestrian crossing) at the Kirpal Road junction; increasing the capacity at the Milton Road / Velder Ave traffic lights by banning right turns from Velder Ave and from Alverstone Road; adding pedestrian phases to these traffic lights allowing the crossing of Rodney Road and Milton Road (north of the junction). There are no plans to change the Moorings Way junction where the Eastern Road cycle route abruptly ends.
We learned all the ‘obvious’ benefits that go with increased capacity for motor vehicles at a road junction. However, we probably weren’t so impressed with that as PCC might have hoped. Hilary asked if this was a sensible course of action as most progressive thinking suggests that increasing road capacity does not work, it only fills up once more. Furthermore, perhaps we would do better to spend more money on encouraging cycling and walking or even public transport.
They went on to explain the secondary benefits of the scheme in that pedestrians and cycles would be getting much needed and long awaited crossing facilities over Rodney Road and Milton Road (north). So for some of the less confident cyclists and the local school the benefits are obvious. However, if you prefer to cycle on the road one member pointed out that the capacity savings were at the expense of allowing cycles out of Alverstone Road and therefore preventing them from accessing Eastern Road using an obvious quieter route from the South of the city.
A pupil of Miltoncross School and he added a different and welcome perspective to the proposals to move the crossing facilities along the Eastern Road and remove some of the informal crossing points. He advocated the need to retain them and pointed out that if the crossing facility at Kirpal Road moves south then he would be expected to take a long detour to get to the cycle cut through at the end of Kirpal Road, a facility he and many other pupils at the school use regularly. He also put forward a case for the introduction of shared use along Milton Road eastern side pavement to enable pupils to access the school entrances safely on bikes.
The debates and questions were very lively as another point emerged when PCC were asked if they had any evidence of a congestion problem and if they had conducted an user counts at the junction, to which they answered ‘no’. It was felt that it must be difficult to address the issues of cycles and pedestrians if they haven’t discovered how many users there are or what they want to do. This is particularly relevant in the case of Swordsands Path with the removal of the informal crossing point leaving users with a long walk north or south along Eastern Road to find a safe route to the college or for residents to access the shoreline.
This is billed as an improvement scheme, yet there are few improvements for pedestrians and cyclists. We have asked for lighting of the dark section of the path between East Shore Way and Swordsands Path. We have also asked for the continuation of the route southwards from the ‘end of cycle route’ sign at the Moorings Way junction where the existing route dumps you into 4 lanes of traffic,
So if you consider that this is an ‘area improvement scheme’ then it begs the question why isn’t it including lighting for the dark section of the cycle route along here and some sort of linkage for the ‘end of cycle route’ sign where the existing route dumps you in 4 lanes of traffic at the Moorings Way Junction. Why no crossing points at Mooring Way where there are many residents, both young families and children going back and forth to schools as well as multiple elderly residents in the specially built housing nearby.
In our opinion there are a few good parts to these proposals for cycles and pedestrians but they are very much a secondary concern in a design that is ALL about maximising capacity on a road that will just fill up again in the very near future.
For more information and to read about all the ‘benefits’ of this area improvement scheme go the PCC website.