Instead of holding a specific live hustings event, in 2023 we are sending each party the same list of questions to answer about cycling, road safety and active travel around our city.
The questions have been created after canvassing our members and highlight issues that they feel strongly about in order to make Portsmouth better for people wishing to cycle more often and further. They also highlight some of the key problems involved and the barriers to remove to successfully implement the Council’s own adopted Local Transport Plan which has the stated vision that “By 2038 Portsmouth will have a people-centred, connected, travel network that prioritises walking, cycling and public transport to help deliver a safer, healthier and more prosperous city.”
We will publish the responses received on Thursday 27th of April - one week before polling day to give both members of PCF and the public time to consider them as part of their voting intentions. The plan is to publish the answers from each party verbatim as received, but with them grouped per question.
The Questions have been sent to the Portsmouth party group leader and where stated the relevant T&T portfolio holder / spokesperson of the following parties.
For and on behalf of the wider PCF membership and others that are interested in the issues to be discussed:-
1. Portsmouth continues to be one of the worst places in the country for pedestrian and cycle casualties - how would your party seek to dramatically reduce these?
Portsmouth Labour - Using the accident data and reports, and near miss reporting, to highlight any problem areas and then to explore if changes to the road system are needed that will improve safety or whether some smaller changes would address any problem identified.
Ensure adequate investment into road safety and traffic calming measures to make areas of our city safer.
Increase investment in the city-wide cycling and walking infrastructure strategy and plan - Many of the active travel schemes seem piecemeal, disjointed, and not connected. The main arteries of our city, used by cyclists and pedestrians should be the focus of investment to create a joined-up network of safe active travel routes. This includes roads like Fratton Road and London Road. Money from the government has
just been granted for work on London Road but detailed plans have yet to be agreed.
More segregated cycle lanes - Segregated cycle lanes make cycling safer and make it clearer for motorists about where they can and can’t go. Labour councillors successfully secured a segregated cycle lane at the Eastney Seafront toilets due to motorists repeatedly parking in the cycle lane. This is one of the few segregated cycle lanes in Portsmouth though - we need more to increase safety.
2. Bike security is often cited to us as the second most important cycling issue after safety. With the demand for residential cycle parking hangers massively outstripping supply, how will you meet the demand and how would you deliver secure cycle parking at key destinations around the city so that people are confident their bike will still be there when they return to it?
Portsmouth Labour - There should be an increase in investment for cycle hangars in Portsmouth. There are many parts of the city with flat-fronted houses or flats, making it difficult to own a bike and store it. At present, not one cycle hangar has been installed in the north of the city, something Labour councillors have challenged the Lib Dems who run the council on.
Continuing to roll out the residential parking hangers to meet demand and finding suitable locations is needed so this will require reviewing the funding available from within the city council and exploring if any external funding can also be used for this.
Secure bike parking is available at some locations, around the city centre for example. Short term bike parking needs to be in visible locations and/or be covered by existing CCTV if possible.
Secure cycle parking should be at the centre of every new development - commercial or residential, public, or private. There needs to be a joined-up network of safe cycle parking at the main destination locations of the city, including secure storage at transport hubs. This is important for active travel to be a viable option with onward travel.
3. Most roads in Portsmouth are about 4 cars wide. 2 for driving, 2 for parking. Will your party consider sacrificing one car width = 2 cyclists wide (less parking or one way traffic for cars) in favour of a fully connected network of dedicated cycle lanes?
Portsmouth Labour - I think you mean major roads/routes here as many residential roads are not that wide. There will be roads where it would be possible to reallocate road space to create the
network of dedicated cycle lanes and we should consider this. We must learn lessons from the failed attempt to introduce dedicated cycle lanes in Elm Grove. Although I asked for a ‘lessons learned review’ nothing has been formally published but I did receive a reply that began to address the issues it raised.
It’s important that with any big changes to roads, residents, businesses, and other key stakeholders such as cyclists are consulted on any plans. Active travel schemes are only successful when you take people with you and design streets that are going to be more liveable for everyone who uses them.
We have had residents requesting measures to reduce car traffic in residential areas so it would be possible to introduce one way traffic for cars here and that could also contribute to a cycle network.
4. Cycling appeals to all types of people, using all types of cycle and with different levels of mobility. How will you create infrastructure that is safe, inclusive and accessible to all?
Portsmouth Labour - It means that plans for cycle lanes need to consider enabling access for different types of bikes, depending on a person’s age, mobility and cycling proficiency. For example, considerations need to be made for parents and carers using e-cargo bikes and accessible riders.
It seems that key to this is designing the cycle infrastructure so that it can meet the needs of different people using different types of cycle. The guidance provided by the Department for Transport in their publication on Cycle Infrastructure Design looks comprehensive and should be followed.
5. What are your plans to fill in the gaps of the seafront cycle provision once the Southsea coastal defence works have been completed? How and when will you commit to completing the seafront cycle route from ferry to ferry as described in the PCC Seafront Masterplan?
Portsmouth Labour - Ask officers to draw up options to fill the gaps and cost them so that they can be included in bids for capital funding for the PCC capital programme or seek external funding where that is possible. There will always be competing bids for capital funding (eg the recent opportunity to bid for some funding toward the development of shore power at the international port) so we would consult with interested stakeholders about priorities and timescales.
6. A City to Share (our manifesto) covers the whole city and was adopted by PCC in Full Council in October 2017 - what would your party do to achieve the goals of this plan? And how would you level up delivery around the city?
Portsmouth Labour - The new cabinet member should commit to genuine cross-party working to deliver the goals of the plan.
The cabinet member should have an annual assessment/report setting out progress against the goals set out in the document and there should also be a progress report on specific schemes in the programme too.
A reduction in car use will also depend on other policies to increase the use of public transport and this is just beginning to happen with measures in the bus service improvement plan (BSIP) starting to be introduced. Money is available to improve services (eg earlier starts, later finishes, buses on Christmas Day) funded through the BSIP but this will need to be sustained beyond the period of government funding if it isto be successful.