Scrapped Portsmouth cycle lane plan 'a missed opportunity'

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Ian Saunders
Image caption,
Ian Saunders, of the Portsmouth Cycling Forum, said the council "need to be aware there could be more accidents"

A council's decision to scrap plans for a £100,000 cycle lane on a major route has been described as a "missed opportunity" by a campaign group.

Portsmouth Cycling Forum said the city council's plan to temporarily turn one lane of Eastern Road into a bike path would have improved safety.

The council had reported a 78% increase in cyclists using the route since the coronavirus restrictions began.

However, it said the money would now be of more use on other projects.

Schemes to install more cycle lanes have been prioritised in other parts of the country, such as in Southampton and Reading, where councils have responded to a rise in people using bikes.

Image caption,
The council has reported a 78% increase in cyclists using the road

Ian Saunders, chairman of the Portsmouth Cycling Forum, said his group has been campaigning to improve safety on the route for more than 10 years and had been looking forward to the changes.

"We believe it is a missed opportunity," he said.

"We've got many more cyclists still using this route and they're still travelling next to 50mph traffic.

"We're hopeful that nothing will happen but the council need to be aware there could be more accidents."

Image caption,
Councillor Lynne Stagg said work on the project would have disrupted the free-flow of traffic

Lynne Stagg, the council's cabinet member for traffic and transportation, said the authority had "agonised" over the decision.

She said the project had been delayed due to other work being carried out by Highways England and the situation had changed since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased.

Ms Stagg added work to complete the cycle lane would have disrupted the free-flow of traffic which would have caused safety issues in itself.

"The costs had gone up as well," she said. "The chances are it would have only been in place for two to three weeks at the very most - which is not money well spent."

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