ANGRY cycling campaigners have hit back at claims they should think twice before riding their bikes on Southampton’s busiest roads.

It comes after Itchen MP Royston Smith told bike riders they should “consider when and where they cycle” in order to make the city’s roads safer.

However campaigners have criticised his comments as “unhelpful” and accused the Conservative MP of unfairly shifting road safety onto bike riders.

The row follows the death of 64-year-old cyclist John Morris, who died in a collision with a lorry in Woolston on Monday.

Despite the criticism, Mr Smith, who also offered his condolences to Mr Morris’s family, said he remains solid on his road safety views.

The Conservative MP also said he was “disappointed” by the reaction, adding that some of the cyclists had “misinterpreted” his point.

He said: “I am disappointed that some people have reacted the way they have.

“Nowhere did I say ‘let’s get cyclists off the road’.

“Where did I say it was all cyclists’ fault – I didn’t.

“Ultimately the message I was trying to get across was that I want cyclists to be careful for their own safety.

“I just think that we all have to be responsible for our own safety on the roads because they are dangerous.”

Mr Smith’s comments come following a social media backlash against his original statement, in which he said cyclists should “use their judgement” and try and stick to routes with cycle lanes.

He said: “Some roads have been made and improved to ensure cycle access is better and the roads are wider, but we have to acknowledge that it’s dangerous for cyclists on certain roads and that they may need to consider when and where they cycle.

“The cycling lobby won’t like this but we have to do something to make the roads safer.

“We’re moving towards fewer cars on the roads and getting towards automated car improvement, but as of today there are 35 million registered cars on our roads.

“Until this gets lower, considerations need to be made.”

Campaigners said Mr Smith’s comments were “ill-judged”, “pathetic” and “embarrassing”.

Jon Bingham, inset, chairman of the Southampton Cycling Campaign said: “I just think he needs to go away and get his facts right because he is talking nonsense.

“He seems to think cars are the most important things on the road and everyone should just get out of their way.”

Mr Bingham added: “I would like him to come to one of our monthly meetings and explain his comments in front of cyclists.”

As well as criticising Mr Smith’s stance, the 47-year-old campaigner called for cycling to be prioritised in Southampton and other cities across England.

He said: “Ultimately we have to start putting pedestrians and cyclists first on the agenda, then public transport and then cars.

“Cars take up so much space in a city.

“Southampton already has problems with congestion and air pollution.”

Another campaigner, Lyn Brayshaw, from the Southampton Cargo Bike Group, echoed Mr Bingham’s calls to prioritised cyclists and called for a “change in attitude”.

The mother-of-two, who has never owned a car, said: “We need to turn the discussion.

“We need to make cycling a priority in Southampton, like it is in other cities like Leicester.

“I’m pleased that changes are being made in Southampton but the changes need to be radical and fast, not only for safety but to improve air quality in the city.”

The comments came on the same day that the family of John Morris paid tribute the 64-year-old, who they described as a “devoted family-man”.

Mr Morris died after he collided with a lorry outside the Cricketers Arms on Portsmouth Road on Monday.

Emergency services including an ambulance, two officers in rapid-response vehicles, the air ambulance emergency response car and the air ambulance helicopter attended the crash.

However, Mr Morris was pronounced dead at the scene.