PLANS to transform a busy Southampton roundabout into a junction as part of a multimillion pound cycle super-highway have been branded “potty” by motoring groups.

The bid to build the Dutch-style highway has taken a major step forward thanks to a £250,000 boost.

It means the cash can be ploughed into turning a roundabout into traffic-light controlled junction which gives cyclists priority.

It will be a key part of the groundbreaking scheme that would allow cyclists to travel between Botley Road, West End, and Southampton central train station.

But motoring groups have criticised the plans, saying it could cause even more accidents if cyclists become complacent when they have right of way.

The additional funding from the Government has been given to Southampton City Council to transform the roundabout to the west of the Itchen Bridge, linking it with Britannia Road, Saltmarsh Road and Central Bridge.

The roundabout will be replaced by a new junction with traffic lights and markings on the road to help cyclists safely turn right ahead of traffic.

It comes after the Daily Echo reported how the city council secured a £1m grant to build the first phase of the route, which will take cyclists between St Mary’s Place and Woolston train station.

And the plan has been revealed months after the nearby Itchen Bridge became fully automated, causing long traffic tailbacks as motorists struggled to use the new system early this year.

The cycle superhighway is part of an ambitious plan inspired by a similar project which was set up in Holland.

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

The route will connect the eastern side of the city with the centre whilst improving safety in accident black spots.

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

She said: “We looked at that area and thought what doesn’t work there is a roundabout.

“There’s always loose gravel on that roundabout and that’s lethal for bikes and motorbikes.

“Whenever we get extra funding from central government for something to improve the ability for people to get around cheaply and easily, it’s good news.

“Every time we can take a car off the road by having a cyclist instead it will improve things for everyone.”

But Hugh Bladon, from the Alliance of British Drivers, has hit out at the scheme.

He said: “As road users, we all have a duty of care to one another and cyclists are very vulnerable people who drivers should be careful of and give a wide berth to.

“But I don’t think we should be pandering to them this much.

“They don’t obey the rules of the road as it is and then they blame car users when
they have accidents.

“If cyclists think they can pedal down a lane without a care just because it’s pink, then they will end up having more accidents because they aren’t being aware of what’s around them.

“It’s a potty idea if you ask me.”

Work on the roundabout is due to start in the next few months, with a view to finish the first phase of the scheme by spring 2014.

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

Daily Echo: How the junction at the Itchen Bridge will workHow the junction at the Itchen Bridge will work

How the junction will work:

THE idea behind the junction is to give cyclists priority by allocating coloured boxes for them to wait in ahead of the rest of the traffic.

While other cycle paths in the city will remain green, the new route will be highlighted in blue.

Cyclists will be able to get in front of cars at the traffic lights, waiting in the coloured boxes marked on the road.

Keep clear markings behind the coloured boxes will mean cars have to stop further behind cyclists than they do on other roads, giving cyclists more time to get ahead of cars when the lights change.

Cyclists going straight ahead or left will use the junction as normal, following the dotted lines marked on the road separating the cycle paths from the road.

Cyclists turning right will stop their bikes in one of the coloured boxes in the middle of the junction, choosing the one opposite to the road they wish to turn into.

When the lights change for the cars behind them to move, cyclists will be able to ride straight into that road safely alongside traffic moving in the same direction.

Pedestrians will cross the road following the paths marked in brown with islands positioned in the middle of the paths, here shown as grey rectangles, allowing them to wait safely for traffic to stop.