An ‘optical illusion’ cycle route has been labeled a £1.5 million white elephant by locals – as MailOnline can reveal it’s apparently used by just three cyclists in a normal hour.
Nearly 60 people have been injured since the cycle path opened in Keynsham, Somerset last year. 21 of them are now suing the municipality for compensation.
Construction took nine months and was part of a £1.5 million taxpayer-funded upgrade to the high street.
But on Friday afternoon there was hardly a cyclist to be seen, despite the busy shopping street. For nearly two hours, only six riders used the trail at 1:55 p.m., 2:16 p.m., 2:25 p.m., 2:40 p.m., 3:06 p.m., and 3:10 p.m.
Retired local resident Martin Crew, 64, said he fears the deceptive curb could lead to tragedy. He said: ‘It’s not a question of whether someone will be seriously injured or killed, it’s just a question of when.
Nearly 60 people have been injured since the cycle path opened in Keynsham, Somerset (pictured) last year, 21 of whom are now suing the council for damages
But on Friday afternoon there was hardly a cyclist to be seen, despite the busy shopping street
‘With this they have completely ruined the main street, shops are closing, the elderly do not dare to go down here.
It’s such a huge waste of taxpayers’ money. We’ve been told it’s for the best, but how can it be if it’s never used.’
Shopper Brie Jones, 23, added: ‘It sucks. It’s taken them years to tear everything up and it certainly looks nice and new, but people don’t watch where they’re going and they get hurt because of it.
‘You sometimes see a kid riding it on their electric scooter, but you rarely see cyclists without it.
“I think over 60 people were injured, the local Facebook groups are full of people saying they are injured. I don’t know if they’re looking for anything for money.’
One of those using the bike path today was Mike Wright, 84, who said, “I use this bike path when I get into town, but it’s never busy.
“I think there’s a mistake on both sides, they need to lower the curb to street level so people don’t trip, but people also need to watch where they’re going and if they’re unstable, they cross at the crosswalk.”
Another customer, who declined to be named, said: “The council should be ashamed of this. They spent so much money on it, it’s a white elephant and it ruined the high street. The best they can do is take it out again, but that just means more wasted money and more inconvenience to the locals, so I think we’re stuck with it.’
Photos from this week showed Dave Dawson, 76, as the latest casualty when he tripped over the curb, which appears flat but is actually a four-inch fall, and cut his hands and knees.
Last year, a pedestrian with arthritis and fibromyalgia reported falling after mistaking the curb for a painted line, while another elderly resident ended up in the emergency room.
Shopper Brie Jones, 23, added: ‘It sucks. It took them years to tear everything up and it certainly looks nice and new, but people don’t watch where they are going and they get hurt.”
One of those using the bike path today was Mike Wright, 84, who said: ‘I use this bike path when I get to town, but it’s never busy’
Mr Dawson said, ‘I was walking down the pavement and it’s kind of an optical illusion; it looks like it’s all flat.
“Walking back to the church, I stepped on the edge of the sidewalk with my right foot because it looked flat, and I lost my balance and fell.
“I have some cuts on my palms and knees because the bike path surface is very sharp.
“Obviously when I got back on the road I was quite aware of the curb, for I had fallen over, and behold, I fell over on my way back too! Exactly the same.
‘The problem is that in some places on the main street, the bike path follows the same principle, but the bike path is flush with the curb, but when you walk through it, it drops about two inches. I think they thought people would cross over there.’
Photos from this week showed Dave Dawson (pictured), 76, as the latest casualty when he tripped over the curb, which appears flat but is actually a four-inch fall, and cut his hands and knees.
Mr Dawson said, ‘I was walking down the pavement and it’s kind of an optical illusion; it looks like it’s all flat’
Tory councilor Alan Hale said he has been approached by people falling over since the day the track was installed.
He said: ‘There cannot be any other local authority in the country that has created a development that has managed to seriously injure at least 59 people and has done nothing to address the situation.
“We were chosen to make our community safe, not to inflict serious injury.
“To make it safe, we need the administration and officers to take positive action, not sit on their hands.”
Lib Dem councilor Mark Roper defended the position, saying the track was built to national safety standards.
“Mitigations,” such as painting part of the roadway red, “have had the effect of significantly reducing the number of reported incidents,” he continued.
Between January and March this year, there was an average of just 2.3 recorded incidents per month, Mr Roper added, although a new report has been commissioned to ‘propose further improvements’.