A man working on the construction of a new cycle lane in Essex has revealed that he and his colleagues have been abused and threatened by motorists who are apparently frustrated about the roadworks and the 5.7-mile diversion resulting from them.
Essex County Council has closed the B1028 Colchester Road while the Wivenhoe Cycle Route, a shared use path that is 800 metres long, is built.
Works were due to have been completed by the end of last month but still appear to be in progress, and BBC Essex reports that one worker, who gave his name as Tim, said: “People have been known on occasion to get violent.”
He continued: "One of my colleagues who was working at the top of Wivenhoe had a gentleman pull up in a car and he had a knuckleduster in his hand – which was quite frightening for him - and there's a lot of verbal abuse. It was reported to police.”
"There have been three or four occasions which have been reported.
"I do understand people's frustrations but we're here to do a job and are trying to do it safely," he added.
The works on the £1.3 million route that once completed will link Wivenhoe to the Colchester campus of the University of Essex are now being monitored by CCTV cameras to help ensure the safety of employees.
On its website, Essex County Council says: “During the road closure there will be an official signed diversion route of 5.7 miles in place.
“This is necessary as it must be suitable for all classes of vehicles including HGVs. There are local roads that can be utilised by local people to shorten the diversion but we cannot officially advertise or promote these.
It appears that abuse of people carrying out roadworks isn’t confined to those working just on cycling projects.
Pat Sheehan, who is health and safety manager at the construction firm Colas and also heads up the Highway Term Maintenance Association's roadwork safety group told BBC News that such incidents were a "daily occurrence" throughout the UK.
"People have been shot at with air rifles,” he revealed. “You name it and it's happened. People have been spat at and driven at."
He added that workers had once had to run away from two men who had a machete, and that urine was regularly thrown at staff.
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.