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Safer and improved walking and cycling routes could be one step closer, following support for various schemes to make active travel options more attractive for Portsmouth residents and commuters.

A photo of a cycle along Goldsmith Avenue

Portsmouth city council has received responses from over 700 people in support of proposed walking and cycling improvement plans, which shows the importance of making these travel options better for people in the city. This valuable feedback will help inform the detailed design of the schemes, which will soon be shared in a formal consultation. If this is approved, construction will begin later this year.

The improvements cover cycling and walking routes in the ‘east to west corridor’, spanning from Milton and Southsea, through the city centre and towards The Hard Interchange. It is hoped that this will lead to more people choosing to walk, cycle or scoot on these safer, improved routes.

Currently, the project is focusing on key areas around Goldsmith Avenue, Fratton Bridge, Sydenham Terrace and Winston Churchill Avenue, and includes various ways to improve walking and cycling options. These include adding in separate cycle lanes where there is space, improving crossings, and making road junctions safer.

Online briefing sessions for residents and commuters were held at the start of the year, and letters were sent to local residents and businesses to ask them to complete an online survey.

A total of 773 people responded to the online survey, with most respondents agreeing with the proposals. On Goldsmith Avenue, 77% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the route needs to be safer for cyclists, and the majority of respondents were in support of all the proposed changes. For the route from Fratton Bridge to the city centre, 79% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the route needs to be safer for people walking and cycling while a further 69% agreed that the footpaths need to be improved. Finally, on Winston Churchill Avenue, most supported all the proposals, with 78% agreeing with plans to create a new off-road cycle lane.

The proposals in the survey included:

  • improving the cycle route along Goldsmith Avenue with physical segregation for cyclists
  • improving the junction with Southern Railway depot on Goldsmith Avenue to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians
  • adding a loading bay for large vehicles outside the Rifle Club on Goldsmith Avenue
  • adding a two-way cycle track, making more space for people walking and improving lighting and CCTV along Sydenham Terrace
  • making the road closure for motorised vehicles on Canal Walk permanent
  • improving crossings on Victoria Road North and Winston Churchill Avenue
  • creating a new off-road, two-way cycle lane on Winston Churchill Avenue

These schemes are just part of an overall South East Hampshire Rapid Transit project, funded by the government’s Transforming Cities Fund (TCF), as well as forming part of the Local Transport Plan.

The valuable feedback received from the survey will help inform the next detailed design phase for the improvements and a statutory consultation on formal proposals will start soon via a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). If this is approved, construction will start later in 2022.

Cllr Lynne Stagg, Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, said “It’s great to see a high level of support for these plans to make cycling and walking a better option for people. These routes are important for making journeys to and from the city centre and the east of the city, so I welcome any plans to make them safer and more attractive for people to travel by foot or by bicycle. I look forward to seeing the detailed designs for these routes when they are developed over the next few months.”

In Portsmouth, 24% of all journeys to work are for trips less than 1.2 miles, so there is a lot of potential to get more people walking and cycling in the city. If these proposals go ahead, they will help more people to walk or cycle instead of using motor vehicles. This would lead to less traffic congestion, cleaner air, and healthier lifestyles.

Full details from the consultation can be found at www.yourcityyoursay.portsmouth.gov.uk/walking-and-cycling-schemes-consultation-2021. For more information about these and SEHRT projects, visit www.sehrt.org.uk/schemes.