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Cycling levels up and "positive" reaction to new cycle lane celebrated by council, one month on from outspoken critics claiming it was "accident waiting to happen for pedestrians" and would "cause carnage on the roads"

The infrastructure, built in the same city where a cyclist was recently incorrectly fined £100 for riding on a shared-use path, could "revolutionise people's journeys" according to a local cycling group...

One month on from criticism from locals claiming a new cycle lane would "cause carnage on the roads" and put pedestrians in danger, the council has pointed out the "positive feedback" the scheme has received since, an FOI request also showing that the average number of cyclists using the route is up more than 300% on 2019 levels.

While it is not a perfect comparison, the 2019 figure of an average of 136 cyclists per day using Head Street in Colchester coming in the month of October as opposed to the 430-cyclist average of April 2024, Essex County Council was happy to report the infrastructure was receiving "positive feedback from the public".

Last month, we reported that some Colchester residents had been outspoken in their opposition to the scheme, which a local cycling group predicted could "revolutionise people's journeys", the critics claiming it would be an "accident waiting to happen for pedestrians" that will "cause carnage on the roads".

However, responding to a BBC Freedom of Information request, the county council pointed to the "positive" reaction since the route opened, adding that "the cycle facility offers greater choices for travel, helping relieve the pinch-point on Head Street and boosting green transport options".

While some raised the fact the 212-metre-long route had been completed nine-and-a-half weeks late and £142,978 over budget as a point of concern, the council clarified that the £878,912 cost was from funding from central government and "does not detract from highway maintenance and the funding could not have been used for fixing potholes".

As part of the project, wider resurfacing works and improvements to bus stops and junctions were also undertaken on Head Street, the money not just going towards the installation of a cycle lane. It was funded by Active Travel England, a gas leak on the road delaying other parts of the scheme.

The question of funding and cost was one raised by outspoken locals who expressed their disgust at the scheme, some branding it a "big load of wasted money" and others claiming it would "cause carnage" and put pedestrians in danger.

However, the Colchester Cycling Campaign, who shared the video below of the new infrastructure, said it could "revolutionise people's journeys" and give "thousands" of children the "choice" to cycle to school — even if drivers making a right turn at one specific, non-protected section would need to take care to look out for cyclists.

Road design and active travel improvements have been a hot topic in the city in recent times, a new cycle junction near Head Street being branded "confusing" and "a ruse to drive motorists out of the town centre", that presumably criticism by the same people who took issue with the two-way cycle lane.

William Bramhill from the Colchester Cycling Campaign told us that really the "big issue" in the city is not the new active travel investment but rather that "the roads have been built for cars since 1960".

Head Street, Colchester (Colchester Cycling Campaign)

All the talk around cycling infrastructure has come after the bizarre case of a Colchester cyclist being incorrectly handed a £100 fixed-penalty notice by a city council warden who believed she was riding on a footpath, the route in fact having been a shared-use path since 2011.

> "Why pick on a lone female cyclist?" Cyclist slapped with £100 fine – for riding on a cycle path

Colchester City Council accepted the penalty notice, handed out by an employee of the Waste Investigations Support and Enforcement (WISE) agency, subcontracted by the council, was "not appropriate".

"We will be reviewing our internal procedures to minimise the chance of similar errors occurring in the future," a spokesperson said.

"PSPOs are important tools to ensure the safety and enjoyment of public spaces for all users. We are committed to working collaboratively with Colchester Cycling Campaign and other stakeholders to ensure clear signage and consistent enforcement across the city.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused to the cyclist involved. We are committed to providing safe and accessible cycling routes for everyone in Colchester."

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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eburtthebike | 1 month ago

Carnage, carnage! CARNAGE!! I tell you!!!

Has anyone ever got back to these nimbys and asked them why their predictions didn't come true and would they like to apologise?

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