Council U-turn sees Portsmouth prom cycling ban continue

Cyclists still not allowed to share the seafront with walkers - yet.

by Tom Henry   June 1, 2009  

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An on-going debate about a place for cycling along Britain’s seafronts has taken another twist after a surprise ban by Portsmouth’s council leader.

Campaigners and local politicians were fully expecting that cyclists would be allowed to ride along Southsea promenade this summer, and a public consultation saw 3,000 people back the idea.

But to the disappointment of some fellow Liberal Democrats, council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson has made a U-turn and stopped the idea in its tracks.

He said: “There will be no cycling on the promenade. It will remain for pedestrians only. There is a lot of concern about safety.

'There is obviously significant demand for a seafront cycling route but the promenade is too narrow to safely provide one.'

The council now plans to create a cycle lane on the seafront road, although details are still being finalised.

Fellow Lib Dem councillor Lynne Stagg, in charge of traffic and transport, said she was 'disappointed' by Cllr Vernon-Jackson's decision.

She said: “We need to get more people cycling to improve health and reduce obesity. I am disappointed.

“The majority of cyclists are not a problem and are perfectly safe, it is the miscreants that ruin it for everyone.”

Portsmouth Cycle Forum urged the council to provide an alternative seafront route.

Chairman John Holland said: “We are disappointed, but we are pleased the city council is going to go ahead with some sort of cycle route, although this has to be safe.”

Cycling along promenades is a contentious issue, particularly during the summer months, and the law regarding it seems to be something of a grey area. Cycling along the prom at Bognor Regis has been banned for more than 20 years, but its continued use by cyclists has prompted the council there to propose a shared use promenade cycle route. A ban on cycling along Morecambe’s promenade was lifted two years ago and a 20 per cent increase in cycling in the area was recorded soon after.