Published: 18:41, 16 September 2020
| Updated: 13:31, 17 September 2020
Residents of a town have hit out after pop-up cycle lanes caused "chaos" for motorists and businesses.
Drivers in Ashford were left confused and angry after finding that Somerset Road, Mace Lane and New Street had lanes blocked off as part of the government's drive for "active travel".
The scheme forms part of a trial by Kent County Council (KCC) which has been allocated a pot of more than £8 million to invest in walking and cycling.
But the move has been ill-received, with many people taking to social media to say the new lanes, which will be in place for 18 months, make the situation on the roads worse as well as making businesses suffer.
One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "The whole situation is chaos. The problems this will cause for traffic build-up just make a mockery of cycling, as we will be breathing in exhaust fumes from stationary traffic.
"To add on to that, the fact these are only for short distances means they are not much use at all really."
In a letter to KCC, Ashford business owner David Burdon said: "I find it incredible that many of these schemes have been implemented without anything like adequate consultation with local businesses.
"Cycling in Ashford will remain dangerous despite these schemes"
"As a cyclist, cycling in Ashford will remain dangerous despite these schemes. And may even become more dangerous.
"Apart from safety, a large number of businesses in Ashford town remain a distressed state. This is evidenced by a number of closures.
"Restricting traffic access to the town centre will only exacerbate the declining footfall and purchasing power in the town."
The scheme has been set up in other towns, and has been met with a similar reaction in Gravesend.
A Kent County Council spokesman said: “These trials, announced in early August, form part of the government’s push for ‘active travel’ in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing and encouraging more active forms of travel.
“We appreciate that some schemes will not satisfy everyone but the government has asked all local authorities to inspire more cycling and walking.
“One lane in each direction will be turned into cycle lanes along New Street, Somerset Road and Mace Lane, segregated from traffic with posts.
“Gaps will be left to allow access to businesses and homes. There will also be gaps at bus stops and road junctions.
“The trial can run for up to 18 months, and if well received can be made permanent or removed if they do not have the desired effect.
“Amendments can be made to the scheme throughout the trial.
“Residents can contact KCC via the active travel fund email address email@example.com to provide comments.”