A CONTROVERSIAL cycle lane in Southampton has cost more than £150,000 worth of public money, it has been revealed.
Civic chiefs have spent a total of £152,419.50 on a temporary cycle lane on The Avenue and Bassett Avenue.
The 4.9km stretch of cycle lane on The Avenue remains in place.
But as reported, the one on Bassett Avenue – between Winchester Road roundabout and Chilworth Road roundabout – was put in place at the end of May and removed at the start of September.
The removal of the two-kilometers-long cycle lane followed an increase in traffic and concerns from local residents and councillors.
Both cycle lanes were delivered as one scheme, the council said and were funded with government grants.
The measures were among those taken in a bid to provide alternative transport while ensuring social distancing.
Southampton City Council said the trial gave the authority an insight into the “benefits and challenges” of cycle provision in that part of the city.
But opposition leaders said it was “a waste of money”.
According to the council, £115,429.68 was spent to put both cycle lanes in place.
An extra £7919.13 was spent for the maintenance of the schemes and a total of £29070.69 was spent for the removal of the section between Winchester Road roundabout and Chilworth Roundabout.
Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen, said: “These cycle lanes were and are a complete waste of money. They have not, for the most part, increased the take up of cycling and as far as I am aware have encouraged not a single driver out of their car.”
Opposition councillor Steven Galton said the council spent “a great deal of money for no positive benefit either short term or long term”.
But Southampton Test MP Alan Whitehead said:”The government gave the council money to implement these active travel schemes quickly and on an emergency basis to try and take pressure off public transport.
“There was always an expectation that some of them would be temporary and some of them would remain. I think it’s a good thing that the council took bold action and that many of the cycle lanes implemented have stayed.”
The authority said councils were encouraged to use temporary traffic regulation orders to trial emergency transport measures during the pandemic and to ensure social distancing.
The council said this allowed for adjustments to be made throughout the trials.
Cllr Steve Leggett, cabinet member for green city, added: “We were asked by the Government to introduce these measures immediately, and to assess whether they should be amended or not using real time data, rather than modelling.
“We were able to assess that some amendments were necessary, including in Bassett Avenue.
“Since the plan has been put in place, it has been successful in encouraging more Southampton residents to walk and cycle.”
Caroline Nokes MP has been approached for comment.