FEARS have been raised over the potential for crashes between shoppers and bikers on a new £100,000 cycle lane which has been built in Colchester city centre.

A two-way cycle lane is set to open in Head Street, opposite Odeon, in a bid to increase the number of people who can travel safely by bike in the city.

Works on the new lane, which is is 3.5 metres wide and 212 metres long and runs alongside one-way traffic, began in August 2023.

The project is now nearing completion but Colchester’s High Steward and former MP, Sir Bob Russell, has raised concerns about the new route.

Gazette: Representative- Sir Bob RussellRepresentative- Sir Bob Russell (Image: Newsquest)

He said: “I am thinking of running a competition of spot the cyclist.

“On a more serious note, with less than five per cent of people coming into the city centre doing so by bike what we have here is a scheme costing more than £100,000 for a tiny minority to the detriment of pedestrians on the eastern side of Head Street.

“[This will cause] congestion for buses and bus passengers who out-number cyclists by nearly three to one. 

"And congestion and delays for the majority of the users of the King’s Highway who have reasons as to why they use this route to drive – they don’t come that way for the fun of sitting in a congested road observing a cycle lane devoid of cyclists.

“I recognise there will be some cyclists using this new red-surfaced highway.

“As it is two-way my guess is there could be a collision with a pedestrian not noticing a cyclist travelling north to south against all the other traffic in Head Street.”

Gazette: Works - the new cycle lane in Head Street nearing completionWorks - the new cycle lane in Head Street nearing completion (Image: Sir Bob Russell)

Bosses at Essex County Council have now defended the cycle lane.

A spokesman said: “A big reason some people choose not to cycle is concerns for their safety on the road.

“This cycle facility provides riders of all ages and abilities the protection they need to travel safely and confidently.

“Like any new facility, it takes time for people to adopt it.

"However, it is part of our long-term aim to make the transport network safer, greener and healthier, with around 40 per cent of all journeys under 5km in Colchester currently taking place in cars.

"The cycle facility offers greater choices for travel and will significantly boost green transport. We believe everyone has a right to travel safely.

“With all Active Travel funding ringfenced by central government, the project also does not detract from highway maintenance.”