City gears up for Prom Wars, the sequel

A senior councillor in Portsmouth has said that a controversial bike lane intoroduced on Southsea seafront last year needs to be re-examined since it is not functioning properly.

Councillor Mike Hancock, who is standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Portsmouth South in next week’s general election, made the remarks during a debate featuring the principal candidates and hosted by the Portsmouth News.

The newspaper added that Mr Hancock, who is a member of the Lib Dem cabinet that runs Portsmouth City Council, made his comments about the controversial bike lane in response to a question from the secretary of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, Hilary Reed, who asked the candidates how much weight each attached to sustainable transport.

Mr Hancock said: 'We have tried successful and unsuccessful cycle lanes in this city but the new one of the seafront I do have serious reservations about. It needs to be looked at again.'

The new cycle lane was given the go-ahead last November, as reported on road.cc at the time in the face of opposition from local business owners who were concerned about the impact on their turnover of the removal of parking spaces.

At the time, council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who had initially rejected the scheme, with planners required to make some changes before resubmitting their plans, said: “'This will provide a safe place for people to walk, on the promenade; a safe place for people to cycle, on a designated cycle lane; and a safe place for people to be able to drive.”

According to the Portnmouth News, however, things haven’t quite worked out that way, and the newspaper reported that “many people” had complained about the danger posed by the lane to cyclists, drivers and pedestrians alike.

Criticisms include the fact that pedestrians now have to cross the cycle path to get to the promenade and even walk along it in certain places, while some drivers maintain that the road is now too narrow.

While Tory candidate Flick Drummond agreed with Mr Hancock about the cycle lane being controversial, Green candidate Tim Dawes said that with 20mph speed limits in force through much of the city, plus its flat terrain, meant that it should be a mecca for cyclists but added that it was up to the people to show that they wanted to embrace that through voting for the party.

'If you want a green city, vote for it. It does make a major difference,” Mr Dawes said. “In Oxford, which does have a big green presence on the council, you will see the way they have closed down the city to cars. It's quieter, it's slower and its more people-friendly.”

Labour candidate John Ferrett added: “I think Portsmouth is often a story of missed opportunities. The light rapid transit system was a missed opportunity. Look at how places like Manchester have benefited from their tram system.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.