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Southampton bike lane to be ripped out after Tories win control of council

New administration also set to review Labour’s transport plan which had heavy focus on active travel

The new Conservative leader of Southampton City Council has said that a major bike lane in the Hampshire city will be ripped out “immediately” as the new administration looks to scrap a number of initiatives brought in by its Labour predecessors.

The pledge to remove the cycle lane on Bitterne Road West is in direct contradiction to transport secretary Grant Shapps’ policy of encouraging active travel as a major part of the government’s  plans to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Temporary bus, cycle and taxi lanes were put in place on the road last year with the help of emergency active travel funding from the Department for Transport (DfT).

At the time the council said it was creating “Permanent schemes to create safer spaces for walking and cycling” with the aim of supporting “more people to travel sustainably, free up space on the roads and create a fairer, greener and healthier city.”

The Tories gained seven seats in last Thursday’s election to give it a control of the council.

Its new leader, Councillor Dan Fitzhenry has also promised to reverse the pedestrianisation last year of the city’s Bedford Place, reports the Daily Echo.

The new cabinet will also review the previous council’s £18.5 million transport plan, which has a heavy emphasis on promoting active travel and the use of public transport, as well as closing some roads to through traffic and installing cycle lanes by the civic centre.

“The current transport plan as it stands – which is Labour’s transport plan – is not something that we will be fully endorsing, ”Councillor Fitzhenry said.

"We will be reviewing it immediately. The pedestrianisation, the removal of main routes into the city, those things will not be staying but we will properly analyse what’s going on and then we’ll come forward with a revised plan shortly.

"We made the commitment to remove Bitterne bus lane, that will be happening as soon as we can,” he added.

The Tory Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith, who last year accused the council of making road traffic congestion worse through the installation of pop-up cycle lanes, welcomed their impending removal after the change of control.

“It's a really good day for Southampton and it's a really good day for the Conservatives,” he said.

Simon joined road.cc 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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92 comments

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Gus T | 2 years ago
1 like

You've got to admire the way some Tories will waste public money on the basis of what they read in the Daily Mail.surprise

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parrotgone | 3 years ago
2 likes

The context of all this is Southampton Conservatives positioning themselves as pro business, as you would expect. That means concieving of the city as two things, a working dock including both container and cruise industries, and a retail destination. Traffic is seen as essential to both of those. In terms of the city as a retail destination that is reliant on attracting shoppers from the suburban and rural commuter belt around the city (London is just over an hour by train, Southampton & Winchester are 12 miles apart with people commuting to both from the surrouding area). The alternatives shopping destinations for those people are Winchester, Basingstoke, Portsmouth and out of town shopping. 

So, arguably a lot of this doesn't have much to do with people who actually live in the city. The Bitterne bus lane on a major route from the east of the city across the other side of the water does. But the arguments over the Avenue cycle lane that was largely removed or watered down previously don't. That's about access for people from outside of the city, and those who live there just have to put up with it. That's true of a lot of the rest of the city too.

Chances are it's also true for many other cities. 

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Smoggy Steve replied to parrotgone | 3 years ago
2 likes

The local councils will do just as you say and put business first but when you have a national government saying they are committed to green initiatives and reducing carbon footprint etc in line with the Paris accord, how do they ever expect to do that, when the local councils (they are so happy to give devolved power to) do their upmost to counter anything remotley green or environmentally beneficial? The PM himself is pro cycling and yet even his own constituancy's borough council are so anti cycling they removed cycling infrastructure. Its laughable. Nothing will get done. things will stagnate as (i've mentioned before) outspoken minorities like 'Angry from Islington' will do anything to stop changes that threatens their comfortable way of life. They are too addicted to driving their 4x4s wherever they want without LTNs or cycling lanes getting in their self intitled way. 

This country will not change becuase there is too many selfish people who are unwilling to change. And they are usually the ones with money and influence. And the government wouldn't want to upset their core voters now would they? 

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David9694 | 3 years ago
0 likes

depressing stuff indeed, and if Road.cc can re-heat an old article, so can I:

https://road.cc/content/forum/those-pop-cycle-lanes-despatch-front-line-...

 

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iandusud | 3 years ago
7 likes

Is anyone aware that there is a climate emergency that threatens our existence on this planet? When will these idiots realise that we have to do things differently! 

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Captain Badger replied to iandusud | 3 years ago
8 likes

iandusud wrote:

Is anyone aware that there is a climate emergency that threatens our existence on this planet? 

Lots of people. Just none of them tories.... 

iandusud wrote:

 When will these idiots realise that we have to do things differently! 

Good luck on that one!

 

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eburtthebike replied to iandusud | 3 years ago
6 likes

iandusud wrote:

Is anyone aware that there is a climate emergency that threatens our existence on this planet? When will these idiots realise that we have to do things differently! 

Perhaps some cyclists could draw lines on building and lampposts etc to show the water level predicted in a hundred year's time?  Should be well over the roof of most cars.

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PpPete | 3 years ago
8 likes

Southampton is my nearest metropolis and certainly within cycling distance. With the removal of the cycling infrastructure, the overpriced public transport, and the punitive parking charges for private cars anywhere near the city centre I guess the shops will just have to do without my custom.

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OldRidgeback replied to PpPete | 3 years ago
3 likes

My eldest is at uni in Southampton so we often make the trip down there. Yes, the parking is not cheap. It's worth noting too that at the weekends, there are long queues of traffic into the centre of town.

But the locals voted to get rid of the cycle lanes and have more traffic queues instead. Oh well...

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parrotgone replied to OldRidgeback | 3 years ago
6 likes

There's always been congestion on the major roads into the city, particularly from the north leaving the M3 and entering the city via Bassett Avenue. At rush hour there has always been heavy congestion there both entering and leaving the city. And there's then been congestion turning west off there on Winchester Road, especially on weekends. But as soon as the cycle lanes were put in on Bassett Aveunue they were blamed for causing congestion there, including on Winchester Road where there had been no alteration. 

The same applies to other major routes in the city whether north / south or east / west. East / west routes north of the city centre cross the Avenue at some point, and invariably have queues at traffic lights at almost all times of day.

Predictably that situation sees a lot of rat running on residential streets too.

Traffic has been contentious in Southampton long before anyone thought of introducing cycle infrastructure. But now cycle and bus lanes are getting the blame for problems that existed anyway.

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OldRidgeback replied to parrotgone | 3 years ago
6 likes

Yep, the traffic on Bassett Avenue can be bad. There was a pop up cycle lane there last year, which my eldest made extensive use of. But it was taken away again. Having queued to get into the car parking near Westgate several times (while taking said eldest to the supermarket for a big food shop), I can attest to the fact that cyclists are not causing the city's traffic problem. 

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Jenova20 | 3 years ago
8 likes

"The Tory Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith, who last year accused the council of making road traffic congestion worse through the installation of pop-up cycle lanes, welcomed their impending removal after the change of control."

The results of that decision should be interesting. Hopefully Royston will reverse course if that decision doesn't siginificantly improve traffic...And if it does, then it tells motorists they can lobby against cycle infrastructure to force cyclists off the road.

This is a bad decision all round.

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eburtthebike replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
3 likes

Jenova20 wrote:

Hopefully Royston will reverse course if that decision doesn't siginificantly improve traffic...

While I love being optimistic, my realist side says "You've gotta be kidding."  A politician, a tory, admitting they were wrong?  Dream on.

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Jenova20 replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
2 likes

eburtthebike wrote:

Jenova20 wrote:

Hopefully Royston will reverse course if that decision doesn't siginificantly improve traffic...

While I love being optimistic, my realist side says "You've gotta be kidding."  A politician, a tory, admitting they were wrong?  Dream on.

It's funny because the same Government was criticised constantly for listening to feedback and doing U-turns...Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

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parrotgone replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
3 likes

You're not familiar with Royston, are you?

Credit where it's due, he's one of the Conservative backbenchers who have brought pressure to bear on the government over the cladding issue in the last few months.

But other than that, I wouldn't hold out any hope for his changing his position whatever the outcome. Like the Tory local councillors he'll probably make some noises about cycle infrastructure on alternative routes that don't share main arterial roads, but to date they've not been able to say where those would be and I don't believe they've brought forward any proposals. 

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ChrisB200SX | 3 years ago
8 likes

Ah, I see the Tories are "levelling-up" and trying to reduce pollution and congestion.

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IanMK replied to ChrisB200SX | 3 years ago
2 likes

From the press this morning, I think today's queen's speech will suggest that in order to level up you need to get back to college, get a better job and move to an area with less pollution. Sorted! Who knew? 

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BadgerBeaver | 3 years ago
1 like

Democracy in action yeah

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brooksby replied to BadgerBeaver | 3 years ago
5 likes

Unfortunately, yes it is.

More people voted for the people who said they'd "review" (wonderful euphemism) the provisions their predecessors put in place.

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IanMK replied to brooksby | 3 years ago
4 likes

I think we have to be cautious in our approach to these stories. I saw an article in the express yesterday slagging off Sadiq Khan. The headline was something like 'on line backlash against Khan'. This is days after he won a second term. Sorry, you might not like him, you might not like those that support him but that is as you say democracy in action.
Particularly, as these gammons are presumably the same one that told us we had to respect the Brexit vote and stop remoaning.

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OldRidgeback replied to IanMK | 3 years ago
4 likes

The sheer quantity of (mostly racist) abuse Khan gets is appalling. Papers like the Express fuel that.

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Bungle_52 replied to brooksby | 3 years ago
8 likes

Only if you believe our first past the post system is democratic.

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eburtthebike replied to Bungle_52 | 3 years ago
7 likes

Bungle_52 wrote:

Only if you believe our first past the post system is democratic.

This is BRITISH democracy, where 40% of the vote gets you 100% of the power.

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Jenova20 replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
2 likes

eburtthebike wrote:

Bungle_52 wrote:

Only if you believe our first past the post system is democratic.

This is BRITISH democracy, where 40% of the vote gets you 100% of the power.

It's also the same British Democracy where people had the option to change the electoral system when the Coalition Government came to power, and voted against changing it. People like this system.

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IanMK replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
8 likes

I don't like this system and I didn't like the shit system that the coalition proposed. tbf, most of the libs said that the proposed  alternative system was shit as well. I think we were given Hobson's Choice.

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Jenova20 replied to IanMK | 3 years ago
0 likes

IanMK wrote:

I don't like this system and I didn't like the shit system that the coalition proposed. tbf, most of the libs said that the proposed  alternative system was shit as well. I think we were given Hobson's Choice.

There's First Past The Post, or Proportional Representation. Those were the two options proposed. The public rejected Proportional Representation in a referendum. They don't want it.

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mdavidford replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
11 likes

Jenova20 wrote:

IanMK wrote:

I don't like this system and I didn't like the shit system that the coalition proposed. tbf, most of the libs said that the proposed  alternative system was shit as well. I think we were given Hobson's Choice.

There's First Past The Post, or Proportional Representation. Those were the two options proposed. The public rejected Proportional Representation in a referendum. They don't want it.

Proportional Representation wasn't an option in the referendum - it was First Past The Post vs Alternative Vote. And there are lots of possible systems besides those three, not to mention various different flavours of Proportional Representation.

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IanMK replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
5 likes

I'm sorry. You're wrong.

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Captain Badger replied to Jenova20 | 3 years ago
7 likes

Jenova20 wrote:

IanMK wrote:

I don't like this system and I didn't like the shit system that the coalition proposed. tbf, most of the libs said that the proposed  alternative system was shit as well. I think we were given Hobson's Choice.

There's First Past The Post, or Proportional Representation. Those were the two options proposed. The public rejected Proportional Representation in a referendum. They don't want it.

No, PR was not proposed. Your misunderstanding of the subject of the referendum, if shared amongst a significant proportion of the electorate, may have had a distinct influence on the outcome.....

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Captain Badger | 3 years ago
3 likes

It was Alternative Vote (AV) that was the other option in the referendum when some wanted PR and others wanted STV. So of course people who wanted one of the others and not specifically AV would have probably voted No Change. It is one of those catch 22's where *No will probably always win in a referendum as if you only put in one option when others would prefer something else. And if you put them all in, the minority option will still win so if PR won on 29% with the rest at 27, 24 and 20, people will point out that 61% of the population didn't want it so how is that democracy. 
 

*Of course if they had stated to the voting population that the meaning of Alternative Vote meant any sort of alternative no matter what and that will be decided afterwards without nailing down anything specific, then we might all be voting under a different system whatever mess four years of negotiations would have left us in. 

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