COUNCILLORS in Corbridge have criticised highways officials for installing “dangerous” cycle lanes on a stretch of road without consulting the community.

Confused motorists were left calling for answers over the removal of central road markings and the installation of cycle lanes, which appeared out of the blue on Newcastle Road at the end of November.

As part of resurfacing work on the B6350 leading in to the village, Northumberland County Council highways officials gave the go-ahead for the installation of the 1.5 metre wide advisory cycle lanes in each direction.

The council argued that the advisory lanes would highlight the presence of the Hadrian’s Cycleway route 72, which passes through the village, and had been used in many parts of the country to help reduce vehicle speeds.

However, many motorists have branded them a hazard, with others pointing out that the lanes are wide enough to take a parked car, leaving drivers assuming they are confined to the narrower centre of the road.

Chairman of Corbridge Parish Council, Coun. Maurice Hodgson told the latest meeting of the council: “The clanger was that the county council didn’t consult, so nobody knew about it. It has caused mayhem and left a lot of people confused.

“I’m an occasional cyclist myself and would usually support this type of thing, but nobody can deny the way it has been handled is stupid.”

The village’s county councillor, Coun. Jean Fearon, said that the lanes had prompted letters of complaint and objections from residents.

“I have protested to the officers that nobody was consulted about this and I actually think they’re dangerous. The white lines on both sides could be mistaken for the centre white line in the dark and cause real trouble,” she said.

“I also asked why the lanes just suddenly come to an end and I was told it’s because you can’t put cycle lanes outside of a 30mph speed limit.”

Coun. Hodgson added: “I think there’s some searching needs to go on at the county council about why it was done so last minute.

“As far as I know, the last request for cycle lanes in Corbridge was put to the county council two or three months ago and the answer then was no.

“I don’t know what changed.”

Coun. Alistair Jenkins called for the central white line to be reinstated and the markings on the cycle lanes to be changed to red.

“If they’ve got to stay, I think that’s the safest way to make things clearer,” he said.

Coun. David Walton said: “Something needs done because I’ve heard reports of two near misses involving vehicles driving in the centre of the road.”

Coun. Hodgson added that he understood they were part of a trial, although it was unclear how long the trial period would last, and said he would be asking for a meeting to review the lanes in the new year.

A spokesman for Northumberland County Council said: “The trial will last until the end of the next summer, between August and September.

“During the trial we will be monitoring the road, gathering feedback and carrying out speed surveys.”