CYCLISTS say a new £165,000 route across St Albans will barely be used and have labelled it “a waste of money”.
Hertfordshire County Council opened the new route, linking Chiswell Green, the south of St Albans and the Ancient Briton junction in the north, in June.
In theory the new route, which links existing cycle paths, allows people to pedal from Harpenden to Watford, or even, as part of the national network, from the Lake District to to the south coast.
But St Albans cyclists, convinced it will be a white elephant, have told the Review it is far too convoluted to actually use, while some of the junctions are badly signposted and dangerous.
Liz Rutherford said: “It is a really devious route going right round the houses. How it got through the safety audits I do not know.”
Fellow cyclist Peter Wares added: “The council has spent all this money on a route nobody is going to use.
“When it eventually gets round to putting a route through Verulamium Park this one will be completely redundant, although I am sure a park route would be well used.
“I have spoken to several people in the Sopwell Residents’ Association and they are all against it.”
The tortuous route starts from a footbridge across the A405, heads up Tippendell Lane, through Greenwood Park and along Watford Road over the A414 before following a series of signs through the St Julians area.
Cyclists are expected to follow the route to the city centre via Berners Drive, Cottonmill Lane, Keyfield Terrace and Marlborough Road before pedalling to the Ancient Briton junction via Sandridge Road and a path across Bernards Heath.
Cycle campaigners’ long-standing pleas for a far quicker and simpler cross-city route linking the King Harry junction with St Michaels Village through Verulamium Park were accepted in principle about three years ago by the district council.
Frustrated cyclists argue it would have been much better for the county council to throw its financial and political strength behind the park route instead of the new convoluted alternative.
Stephen Wragg, of the St Albans Cycle Campaign, said: “The council has definitely picked the wrong route and one or two of the junctions are not at all well designed.
“The county council has waited for years for the district council to let them put a cycle route through the park.
“It was also under national pressure. It is so frustrating – this is just a waste of money.”
Karen Wheeler of St Albans District Council, which owns Verulamium Park, said: “There are some conflicts and health and safety issues that need to be resolved. In the meantime the council has permitted cycling in Clarence Park and Longacres Open Space as a trial to determine whether any problems will arise from shared useage between cyclists and pedestrians.
“If it proves sustainable then the lessons learned could be applied to Verulamium.“
Hertfordshire County Council spokeswomam Jo Brown said; “This particular route was subject to extensive public consultation, including an exhibition.
“Two safety audits of the route have already been carried out, without raising any concerns. A final safety audit has just been completed and we are awaiting the results. We are planning to meet with the St Albans Cycle Campaign to discuss their concerns.”