Portland Road in Hove is an important local shopping destination, and gives access to a number of schools and nurseries. It’s also highly residential.
Recently, a couple of pedestrians have been hit and badly injured by people driving vehicles. There are calls to make the street safer, including a petition for a 20mph limit and a petition for pedestrian lights.
Despite being well-used by people cycling to school, work and to the shops, the cycling experience is not always pleasant. The road is busy all day long, with cars, vans, HGVs and buses. Pavement parking and parking on double-yellow lines is common, which can obscure the sight of people cycling and walking and make junctions and crossing points dangerous. There are parking bays along most of the road, on both sides. If you’re cycling, you can be squeezed towards parked cars by vehicles overtaking at close range, pushing you into the ‘door zone’, where you risk being knocked off by someone opening a car door.
We’re in favour of reducing the speed limit to 20mph and would encourage you to sign this petition on the council’s website.
Alongside Living Streets Brighton & Hove, we’d like to see a 20mph speed limit across the city. However, given that speed limits are regularly broken, we’d like to see any speed limit reduction combined with much better enforcement and changes to street design, so that speeding is much more difficult. Measures such as speed bumps alone are not enough, and can make matters worse, with drivers alternately speeding and braking sharply. Over the last few years, Waltham Forest in east London has been transformed by measures to improve cycling and walking. These include protected cycle lanes, parklets (mini parks in place of parking spaces), street planting, tactile paving, upgraded junctions, better pedestrian crossings and closures to parts of roads to remove through-traffic, while still permitting vehicle access. The result has been an overall drop in car use and big increases in cycling and walking.
The council’s LCWIP (Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan) is currently under development, and designates Portland Road as a key cycling route, with key walking routes around the shops. The obvious solution for Portland Road is to have protected space for cycling. We need to make sure that any changes to Portland Road take into account the impact on surrounding areas, such as Poets Corner, which is already blighted by rat-running as drivers seek to skip the traffic lights on Portland Road and Sackville Road.
There’s an inititiatve afoot for the area around Poets Corner and the east of Portland Road to become a 20-Minute Neighbourhood. This is a concept whereby most facilities – shops, employment, healthcare, education, childcare – are kept within a twenty-minute walk or cycle ride, reducing the need for travel and strengthening a sense of community. The 20-Minute Neighbourhood concept is a virtuous circle – by reducing the need for travel, traffic volumes reduce, the area becomes more safer and more attractive and people are more inclined to invest in it, both socially and economically.
The picture is complex, but the potential for positive change is huge. The best place to start is with what we want to achieve – a strong community with thriving local businesses, where you can get around safely and easily on foot and by cycle and don’t have to travel long distances to get most things done.