GROUNDBREAKING plans have been unveiled to create a new cycle superhighway for Southampton.

The “innovative” scheme, inspired by a similar project in Holland, is set to connect up the eastern side of the city with the centre.

And accident blackspots like the Itchen Bridge and Marsh Road could be transformed for those travelling on two wheels.

A total of £1m in Government funding has been secured by the city council to pay for the first part of the project – which would run from Woolston station to St Mary’s Place.

The narrow cycle paths on the Itchen Bridge could be replaced with a wider shared footpath and cycleway.

There could also be a Dutch-style off-road route around the notorious roundabout at the Woolston end of Itchen Bridge, along with a new traffic light system on the Southampton side.

The route has been designed by cyclists who use the route, road safety experts from the city council and engineers from design firm Urban Movement.

Dilys Gartside, who runs Southampton cycle training company Cyclewise, is one of the people who has helped put the plans together.

She said: “The problem with Southampton when getting around by bike is that the city is cut in half by the River Itchen.

“The bridges have always been unpleasant for cyclists.

“The Itchen Bridge is practically a no-no. There are narrow cycle lanes on a narrow carriageway and inevitably vehicles often straddle the cycleway.

“And once you have got over it, there are two vicious roundabouts at either end.

“The whole of that route has been fraught with danger for cyclists for many years.”

A serious accident in Marsh Road in April last year left a 28- year-old woman with lifechanging injuries, when a van collided with her bike.

But, according to Mrs Gartside, the new route could deal with problem areas.

She said: “This new route should eliminate a lot of those nasty junctions and problems.

“It’s currently not a route that even experienced cyclists will do. The new route is a very exciting step forward – this is really quite innovative.

“We have been working with professional design engineers and it started out with the traditional ways of doing t h i n g s without positive results.

“So we have been looking at some of the Dutch ways of doing things and looking at what works, what’s a waste of money and what’s excellent value for money.”

Southampton City Council is now running a consultation on the new route.

If it then gets the go-ahead from councillors, work could begin in June 2013, with the first phase completed by 2015.

The council says the other phases, which would connect Hedge End and Botley to Southampton Central station, would be put into place when future funding becomes available.

The following drop-in sessions about the new cycle route will take place as part of Southampton City Council’s consultation:

  • City College, St Mary Street, from noon to 4pm on Monday, February 4.
  • Chamberlayne Leisure Centre, Weston Lane, from 4pm to 8pm on Tuesday, February 5.
  • Central Library, Civic Centre, from 11am to 5pm on Thursday, February 7.
  • Woolston Library, Portsmouth Road, from 11am to 3pm on Wednesday, February 13.
  • Central Hall (in Room 3), St Mary Street, 11am to 7pm on Thursday, February 14.

View Southampton Cycle Corridor in a larger map