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Campaigners challenge Portsmouth City Council to achieve Cambridge levels of cycling

A City to Share strategy, presented to council leaders this morning, sets out how to grow cycling

Portsmouth Cycle Forum (PCF) has challenged local politicians to put measures in place to achieve similar levels of bike use there to those seen in Cambridge. The appeal is contained in its new cycling strategy, launched today and drawn up in response to an invitation from the local council’s leader on how to improve transport in the South Coast city.

The campaign group says the strategy, called A City to Share, “sets out a vision for the city where there is space for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians to co-operate with each other and treat one another with courtesy and respect.”

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, asked Portsmouth Cycle Forum for its proposals after it wrote an open letter to her in August. Council leaders were due to attend this morning’s launch of the strategy at an event hosted by the University of Portsmouth.

Representatives of local schools, businesses and colleges were also invited to this morning’s event. There will be a public meeting to present the strategy at the University of Portsmouth on Thursday 13 November.

The strategy is aimed at increasing the level of cycling in Portsmouth while at the same time reduce the number of road traffic incidents in which cyclists and pedestrians are injured through rethinking street design.

The group says that implementation of the strategy will bring benefits to people living in the city in areas including:

Health - Regular physical activity like cycling for short trips will help address obesity and ensure the people are healthier for longer.

• Economy - Shoppers who mainly visit through walking, cycling or the bus will visit more shops and more frequently supporting local high streets. This relies on addressing road safety to help overcome fears of cycling in Portsmouth. Reducing congestion will benefit all businesses.

• Liveability - Improving safety and reducing traffic along residential roads to support cycling will help children get to school and visit nearby friends. As more people switch from travelling by car to walking or cycling, it will reduce the demand on scarce parking spaces in the city.

• Environment - The primary source of air pollution in Portsmouth is motor traffic. When residents in the city switch from cars to cycling to make short trips, it will help reduce the estimated 600 preventable deaths a year in the city due to air pollution.

According to Portsmouth Cycle Forum’s chair, Jon Spencer, “Only about 4.6% of commuting journeys in Portsmouth are made by bike, which is significantly lower than the 16% seen in Cambridge.

“We believe that with the right infrastructure in place Portsmouth could be an ideal city for cycling, and aim to see the percentage of commuting journeys rise to 10% by 2020, and 20% by 2025.”

The group is calling on Portsmouth City Council to work with local residents and business to begin implementing its vision, calling on it to:

• Establish a cross party sustainable transport working group to oversee delivery of the strategy goals

• Consult on and deliver a cycle safety action plan to address the level of cycle accidents

• Allocate resources to assess the suitability of cycling provision in each neighbourhood to augment the Portsmouth Plan

• Research options to create space for cycling on main routes

• To work with public transport operators in Portsmouth to consult on how to support the increasing number of customers who switch to cycling in the city after disembarking in Portsmouth.

Mr Spencer added: "Making changes to the city to enable many more people to cycle safely will benefit everyone.

“It will bring great benefits to the health, wealth and wellbeing of the whole city.

“The people of Cambridge are fitter, healthier and longer lived than the people of Portsmouth and we’d like to see Portsmouth catch up."

A City to Share will be available to download on Portsmouth Cycle Forum’s website later today.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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