Published: 10:44, 17 February 2021
| Updated: 12:00, 17 February 2021
Controversial Covid ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes installed on three busy roads in Ashford cost more than £20,000 to dismantle just days later, it has emerged.
And the removal costs of another pop-up lane in Kent were more than half the costs of installing it.
The Ashford cycle lanes were one of six projects funded by the government and implemented by the county council last year.
They were designed to encourage people to get out and exercise during the coronavirus crisis and were supposed to be trialled for a year.
Figures released to KentOnline under the Freedom of Information Act show that, in total, the pop-up lanes have so far cost £485,068 - including removal costs of close to £37,000.
The scheme in Ashford, in Somerset Road, Mace Lane and New Street, was the most expensive of the six, with installation of bollards, signs and road markings costing £165,881 - and their removal after a storm of protests costing £20,656.
A similar pop-up cycle lane in King Street, Maidstone, which also included traffic lights due to the road being narrowed, cost £98,099.91 to install but KCC says it has yet to be billed by contractors for its removal.
County council road chiefs recently decided to remove it after less than a year.
And in Dover, removal costs for a lane in Maison Dieu Road came to £13,085 - more than half the total of £25,383.99
A scheme in Gravesend along Milton Road cost £72,462.74 including £3,090.31 for its removal.
All the schemes proved unpopular, even among councillors who supported the idea of creating more cycle lanes.
Drivers branded them as dangerous and two petitions were set up calling for the lanes to be removed.
The lanes appeared overnight with no consultation with residents and in most cases involved narrow lanes being delineated by slim plastic bollards.
Contractors have yet to bill KCC for removing these.
KCC was awarded £8 million, but had to spend the first tranche of £1.6m within six weeks.
A KCC spokesman said: “These schemes formed part of the government’s push for ‘active travel’ and the need for social distancing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We knew some schemes would not satisfy everyone but the government gave money to local authorities across the country and asked for more cycling and walking provision.
“KCC was given eight weeks to install the changes using the money government awarded, alongside powers to use an Experimental Traffic Order.
“All of the schemes were put in as trials and we monitored their effectiveness, changing or removing some schemes based on local feedback.
“The DfT criteria for funding in Tranche 2, for which we were awarded just over £6 million, is for permanent schemes.
"A public consultation has just closed on five new proposed schemes across the county.”