A CYCLE group has responded to criticism of a new bike lane by saying it will allow less confident riders to use the infrastructure in Colchester city centre.

A two-way cycle lane will connect Head Street with North Hill and the High Street once it is completed on Friday, April 26.

But the new junction between the three main city centre arteries has been described as confusing, with resident Mary Felgate saying it will turn the area into “an obstacle course”.

Colchester Cycling Campaign and Essex County Council have now responded by saying the improved infrastructure will result in higher usage from cyclists.

Gazette: Layout – Mary Felgate described the road markings as 'confusing'Layout – Mary Felgate described the road markings as 'confusing' (Image: Daniel Rees, Newsquest)

Stuart Johnson, Colchester Cycling Campaign chairman, said: “The cycle lane will benefit city centre workers, shoppers and students at Colchester Sixth Form College as well as people making longer journeys to Colchester Hospital and the railway stations.

“Head Street itself hasn't been bike friendly since at least 1963 when it became one-way.

“With buses on the left, loading bays on the right and a steady stream of private and commercial vehicles stuck in the middle, it is little wonder that only confident riders venture there while others use the footway – or don't cycle at all.

“The new cycle lane changes that.”

He added: "To those who make claims about the dangers posed by the two-way path to pedestrians, we would point out that all traffic incidents in Head Street have involved a motor vehicle."

A spokesman for Essex County Council addressed criticism that the lane, which is 3.5 metres wide, takes up too much space.

Gazette: Construction – the new cycle lane has taken seven months to buildConstruction – the new cycle lane has taken seven months to build (Image: Daniel Rees, Newsquest)

He said: “We understand there have been some concerns that the cycle lane is too wide, however when complete this will be two cycle lanes, one in each direction, which will allow a two-way cycle flow segregated from the main carriageway and footway.”

The spokesman added that barriers, which are a common feature of cycle lanes, are there for safety reasons and that the road markings were reviewed by auditors.

He said: “The barriers ensure cyclists of all experience levels feel confident using the cycle lane.

“We are also nearing completion of the road markings to help cyclists navigate the different routes available, which have been reviewed as part of a road safety audit completed for the scheme.”