Pedestrian injured on controversial Southsea seafront bike route

Woman injured after stepping into cyclist's path

by Simon_MacMichael   May 4, 2010  

Southsea seafront bike lane (picture credit Hilary:Portsmouth Cycle Forum).jpg

The seafront cycle lane in Southsea that has polarised opinion in the South Coast resort is back in the news after a female pedestrian was reportedly taken to hospital with head injuries after apparently walking into the path of an oncoming cyclist.

One witness to the incident, John Whitfield, quoted on the website of the local newspaper the Portsmouth News, said: “As a motorist and a very keen cyclist I can see more incidents happening. All that the city council has done is halved the amount of parking spaces between Eastney and South Parade Pier, and as a cyclist it has proved that the cycle lane is not guaranteed safe to use.

He continued: “After this accident I will not use the cycle lane. I will either use the pavement - and I don't care what people say - or even better not go to Southsea but Hayling Island instead, which is a great pity.”

Alison Pople, who also saw the accident described how she had told her husband that the bike lane was “an accident waiting to happen” as they parked their car shortly before the collision took place.

She added: “'What the city council has done, in effect, is to allow parking down the middle of two roads.”

Last week, we reported how a Liberal Democrat member of Portsmouth City Council and parliamentary candidate said that he believed the bike lane, which was approved last November by the council, which his party controls, needed to be rethought due to safety concerns.

In a comment on our story, Jon Spencer of the Portsmouth Cycle Forum, also known as Pompey Bug, set out the reasons why he believed those safety concerns were being inflated by opponents of the bike lane and a proposed extension to it, including a link to a Q&A document, which can be found here, prepared by Pompey Bug to address those issues.

In the Portsmouth News report on the injured pedestrian, John Holland, chairman of the Portsmouth Cycling Forum was quoted at length regarding the seafront bike lane, although as he made clear in a subsequent comment, he had been misquoted with the words attributed to him taken from an email he had written prior to his knowing about the accident.

Commenting on the accident to the pedestrian, he said “It concerns me greatly that an accident did occur and I ask everyone using or crossing the seafront cycle route to exercise caution and to show respect for each other.”

18 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Inevitable sooner or later going by that photo.

posted by Chuck [357 posts]
4th May 2010 - 19:54

like this
Like (1)

"after apparently walking into the path of an oncoming cyclist."

She's lucky it wasn't a car by the sound of it. I wonder if pedestrians show less care when crossing cycle lanes and if so, why.

Personal experience is that if people can't hear a car they don't look - even on the comparatively major roads of my daily commute.

posted by dlp [51 posts]
5th May 2010 - 9:10

like this
Like (0)

My experience is that pedestrians often walk out without looking if they don't hear a car. There is some research indicating hybrid/electric vehicles being involved in a greater number of accidents with pedestrians because they are quieter - same reason.

In this incident it should be determined whether or not the pedestrian looked first. if not, she caused the accident and as such, the cyclist would be entitled to sue her.

I've had numerous incidents of pedestrians stepping out in front of me without looking while cycling in London - traffic light controlled crossings can be particularly bad as people will simply walk out if they can't hear a vehicle - I've had several close calls.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
5th May 2010 - 9:16

like this
Like (0)

Well that didn't take long. Cycling back through Portsmouth this morning three people stepped out in front of my in as many miles, not all that surprising, blooming lemmings.

posted by automatic_jon [68 posts]
5th May 2010 - 11:45

like this
Like (1)

I kind of think the anti-cyclist brigade only have themselves to blame for this fine mess. The orignal plan was simply to paint a line down the prom separating pedestrians from cyclist. This has been done quite successfully down the coast in Brighton without causing the end of the world! Yet in Southsea the opposition to this simple concept of "sharing" was vociferous and the council backed down.

In fairness I think the council have tried to do their best knowing that they need to accommodate cyclists. But the result is a solution that suits no one

- The lane is narrow dangerous to cyclists & pedestrians
- There is a wall most the way blocking the view of the sea from the lane (this is why people cycle on the prom)
- there is now more congestion on the road which is narrower making it harder for those like me who prefer to cycle on the road.

posted by Jonty79 [29 posts]
5th May 2010 - 14:58

like this
Like (0)

ive had couple of near misses on this stretch myself, usually from people parking then walking across the cycle lane to purchase a parking ticket from a machine. It may have been a better idea to also move the parking machines to the road side in between the concrete block partitions thus not having to walk across the lane. Still we need a cycle lane but we can probably do more to improve it rather than knee jerk and scrap it etc etc.

posted by boggy [29 posts]
5th May 2010 - 15:22

like this
Like (0)

So we know pedestrians are prone to step out in front of us when we use shared spaces. So what do we do? Arse up heads down keep going in our own two-wheeled version of 'might is right'? Why not just slow down and take more care when pedestrians share such spaces with us?

After all isn't that almost precisely what we ask motorists to do in regards to oursleves on the basis of our vulnerability on bikes relative to them? So it must be with pedestrians who, in their turn, are more vulnerable than we are, and who were here first.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [354 posts]
5th May 2010 - 15:32

like this
Like (0)

It does seem a strange piece of design, as Jonty says the resulting two way bike lanes are very narrow - I notice the cyclist pictured in the distance is, very sensibly, riding right down the middle.

What I find most baffling reading about it is that this design doesn't seem to take any account of its location, on a seafront, and the types of people who are likely to be there, the very young, old - not local; or of their reasons for their being there - the seaside - which they are likely to be focusing on whether they are driving, riding, parking or walking. No surprise really that on a Bank Holiday weekend when lots of people want to go to the seaside, and when many of them probably aren't local that someone got knocked over.

Surely though, with a bit of give and take a better solution could be found simply by re-allocating the space a bit more effectively?

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
5th May 2010 - 15:46

like this
Like (1)

“After this accident I will not use the cycle lane. I will either use the pavement - and I don't care what people say - or even better not go to Southsea but Hayling Island instead, which is a great pity.”

Well, handy for him that he can choose never to go to Southsea, then. For me cycling is a form of transport, not a voluntary activity. In some circumstances a well designed cycle facility can help; in others it can hinder.

posted by pickles [27 posts]
5th May 2010 - 16:05

like this
Like (1)

Workhard - I don't kow if you've ever had a pedestrian suddenly and inexplicably step in front of you but from your comment perhaps not. There are times when despite all the care you can take, someone else will do something stupid and thoughtless and when you have no safety margin. I've not ridden this cycle path but judging from the photo and the comments by those who have, the design is severely compromised. It seems it would have been better to have the cycle lane on the prom with greater visibility for all and more space for car drivers on the road.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
6th May 2010 - 8:48

like this
Like (1)

Southend on Sea Borough Council is in the middle of implementing this type of cycle lane/car parking along one stretch of the Esplanade.....again, I see it as an accident just waiting to happen.

Time to use the road and use the public highway Plain Face

posted by pgribbon [5 posts]
6th May 2010 - 11:36

like this
Like (0)

OldRidgeback wrote:
Workhard - I don't kow if you've ever had a pedestrian suddenly and inexplicably step in front of you but from your comment perhaps not. There are times when despite all the care you can take, someone else will do something stupid and thoughtless and when you have no safety margin.

Ive had plenty of people step out infront of me, never hit one yet as i ride expecting the worst, if someone is walking on the path next to the road then be you in a car, on a bike, or even running , you simply cannot be excused for not giving them enough space and hitting them because they turned/changed direction. If this affects the speed you can travel (as it most likely will) then quite frankly TOUGH! Being on a bike (just like being in a car) does not give you the right to speed at the risk of others. Why do we petition for equal rights on the road only to ignore our responsibilities to others?

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [410 posts]
6th May 2010 - 11:42

like this
Like (0)

STATO - then you've been lucky so far. Ever had someone run out of a crowd (so you haven't seen them) into the road right in front of you for instance? How far from the kerb is sufficient to avoid a fast runner who appears from nowhere, 2m, 5m or more? Ever had a taxi door open right in front of you as a passenger has decided to exit despite the fact that they're in the middle of three lanes of traffic? You can take all the precautions possible as a road user and yet stupidity and carelessness factors can still raise their head. Commuting through London for 20 years taught me a lot about defensive riding. I've only had two out and out collisions in that time and one was early on, before I realised just how much of an extra risk foreign tourists pose. The other was the encounter with the door opening in the middle of three lanes of traffic (and incidentally while the vehicles in the taxi's lane had stopped the other lanes of traffic on either side were still moving). It may happen again though I'm pretty experienced and minimise risk. It's also worth noting that not every road user can be 100% attentive 100% of the time. People just aren't made that way. It is impossible to eliminate risk 100%.

If you are impervious to risk then there is only one explanation...

...superman unmask yourself.

Smile

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
6th May 2010 - 14:18

like this
Like (0)

There are always exceptions that prove the rule, and with 20 years and only 2 injuries then your a perfect example of how to take the risk back into your own hands, rather than letting fate deal its hand every time you get onto the saddle. Ive been taken down once, i was crossing a roundabout and someone entered without looking. I had seen him coming and fully expected him to try and take me out (in my head i hasten to add, he wasnt 'actually' out to get me) but despite my best evasive manouvers a blinkered driver has a significant speed advantage over a cyclist and i just couldnt get out the way.

Sorry if my original post seemed aimed at you, get a bit wound up by people (not on this forum) spouting the 'bike is king' and at the same time commenting how ped's should get out the way and red lights should be ignored 'otherwise my commute wouldnt be any faster than in the car' TW*T's. Shouldnt let it get to me and (my earlier post) wasnt what i meant to type but it all spewed out without realsing.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [410 posts]
6th May 2010 - 16:03

like this
Like (0)

No problem STATO - I'm not a fan of red light runners whether on two wheels or four, or legs for that matter. I ride bicycles, a motorbike, drive a car and walk and run a lot (not all at once) so I see things from a lot of angles.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
6th May 2010 - 16:44

like this
Like (0)

OldRidgeback wrote:
Workhard - I don't kow if you've ever had a pedestrian suddenly and inexplicably step in front of you but from your comment perhaps not. There are times when despite all the care you can take, someone else will do something stupid and thoughtless and when you have no safety margin. I've not ridden this cycle path but judging from the photo and the comments by those who have, the design is severely compromised. It seems it would have been better to have the cycle lane on the prom with greater visibility for all and more space for car drivers on the road.

Yes I have. Three times as it happens when I used to commute in London over a 10 year period. So now I 'bimble along', as a Twitter mate puts it, when in spaces shared with pedestrians. Slow right down, cover the brakes, smile at 'em and chillax. Works for me. ymmv.

I agree that path is flawed, as any fule kno, so cyclists should change their behaviour accordingly imo.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [354 posts]
7th May 2010 - 13:49

like this
Like (0)

It might be easier for everyone, cyclists, pedestrians and car drivers, just to change the path and have the cyclists on the prom.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
7th May 2010 - 20:55

like this
Like (5)

I cycle this new route three or four times a week. It's not the cycle route that is dangerous, it's the number of pedestrians who don't know that bikes use bike paths. Almost every day a pedestrian will walk out in front of the bike, ignore the bell or shouts, forcing an emergency stop. Yesterday, a builder clutching sandwiches walked up to the railings by the pier as I was approaching, climbed over, and jumped down onto the cycleway, landing on my front wheel. Just didn't look. Fortunately, I'd stopped. 'You wanna watch where you're bloody going' he snarled before marching off. Bells, shouts, they ignore them.

I cycle on the shared bike path on the prom at Brighton. Much the same things happen there. Bikes are not foremost in people's consciousness, either on bike paths, or on the roads. I think the Southsea scheme is an improvement over the previous diagonal parking, where cars would reverse out blindly into the path of cyclists. But Southsea seems to have more than its fair share of the not-very-bright, who can't be bothered to check for traffic on cycle ways. When they do see it, as often as not they run across in front of the bike. Nuts!

Regarding comments that the lanes aren't wide enough, it's not an issue for me, nor are the cars parked close enough for doors to normally hit cyclists. Of course, people sit in their cars with the doors open and a passenger standing in the cycle lane chatting. Nuts squared.

posted by snaff [2 posts]
11th May 2010 - 13:27

like this
Like (1)