THE number of cyclists using a controversial cycle lane in Colchester have dropped by more than 50 per cent in a year, it has been claimed.

Former Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell submitted a freedom of information request to Essex Highways which revealed a 13-hour survey in July last year found 478 cyclists used the new cycle lane, in North Station Road.

A fresh survey undertaken by Sir Bob this week found 231 cyclists used the lane, which is set to be made permanent, over the same time period.

Sir Bob said: "My survey reveals cyclists are shunning the cycle lane.

"Indeed, my 13 hours of counting cycles reveals that numbers have halved since this time last year, assuming last year’s survey was accurate and that the figures were not massaged to produce an outcome to fit the outcome which promoters of the cycle lane wanted.

"I know what a cycle looks like. And I can count. And I know my figures are accurate.”

Over the 13 hours Sir Bob counted 393 buses forced out of the former bus lane into the main lane of traffic, along with 569 taxis and 163 motorcyclists.

Sir Bob said the cycle lane should not be made permanent until independent consultants had conducted a survey.

He said: "I am confident will confirm my recent survey shows the true picture, which is that the number of cyclists using the former bus lane on average is only about one bike every three minutes. About 18 cyclists an hour.”

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The cycle lane was introduced in response to the pandemic in place of the £1 million bus lane.

Sir Bob has called for the bus lane to be reopened and for cyclist to join buses and taxis using it towards the town centre.

His survey was spread over 13 hours, mostly in sessions of two hours, in the period 6am to 7pm, on each working day of the week plus Saturday.

An Essex Highways spokesman said: "Cycling counts are a snapshot in time and are influenced by many criteria including the weather, the day of the week and local or national events.

"For example, a cycling count during an important football match would not be representative.

“Essex County Council understands the need to improve the sophistication of traffic counting, including walking and cycling.

"To this end, we are investigating ways to provide a much more accurate picture across all modes.

“It is also important to stress that behaviour change takes time.

"We are delighted that 231 people used the cycle lanes and we look forward to seeing this increase as residents get comfortable with the new infrastructure.

"If anyone is keen to take up cycling but is perhaps a little nervous, we urge them to consider taking the national Bikeability training.”