A CYCLIST has taken to going out with a shovel to maintain the final few metres of a bike lane after it was left unfinished.

Civic-minded Mike Marx, 59, a handyman from Portswood, said the stretch at the junction of The Avenue and Westwood Road is "an accident waiting to happen".

The cycle path running along The Avenue is tarmacked but the final few meters are mud and gravel.

Mike, who has lived near the road for 14 years, said he finally decided to take maintenance of the site into his own hands. He has started shovelling stones off the pavement to try and improve the path.

READ MORE: New cycle route to connect Southampton General Hospital with city centre

Mike told the Echo: “It's right by the road and on a normal bike the path is too hard. They have tarmacked other bike lanes.

"They did around the Highfield campus, but they have just left this mess.

“It is only a matter of time till someone riding a bike slips right next into the road.

"I came out and put the shovel into it to level it and fill the holes, but it needs a proper path.” 

Southampton City Council has now confirmed it has long planned to tarmac the stretch, which is on command land.

Daily Echo: Mike MarxMike Marx

The bike lane was put in as part of the council's improvements to encourage more people to travel sustainably.

Mike said he will continue to maintain the bike lane and “not give up” until the council takes action.

Julian Gee club, secretary of Sotonia cycle club, said incomplete cycle lanes are an issue across the country.

He said: "As a cycling club we are in favour of cycle lanes.

"Anything that keeps us off the roads and away from cars is a good thing.

"But often cycle paths are not very good and are not done properly across the UK and certainly in Southampton they are not good."

Councillor Eamonn Keogh, Cabinet Member for Transport and District Regeneration said: "We are committed to establishing Southampton as a City of Opportunity, where residents, workers and visitors can enjoy the many benefits that these plans would deliver.

Daily Echo: Mike MarxMike Marx

"Investing in these plans would significantly reduce the air pollution caused by private cars, create thousands of new jobs that would enhance the local economy, and provide much easier and cleaner ways to travel for years to come.”

Residents part of the Highfield Residents’ Association Committee said they are in support of the cycle lane with the proposed extension by the council.

Individual committee members were however concerned the shared cycle and pedestrian path is too close to the road.

A spokesperson for Southampton City Council said: "We would like to thank residents for their patience while this application is processed."

Concerns over Southampton cycle routes

Members of a Facebook group 'I would cycle in Southampton if...' said the bike lane represents Southampton's wider cycling infrastructure issues.

One commenter said he "pities" cyclists who don’t have a suspension fork when cycling.

He said: "There are so many sunken drain covers, high dropped curbs, and other obstacles that make people cycle on the roads that are kept intact as the council sees them as more of a priority than the cycle paths."

Another commenter said: "Suggest you get a couple of road engineers to cycle around the city's infrastructure and get them to relate the experience to the national guidelines."

Southampton council response in full

A Southampton City Council spokesperson said: "In 2020 the path between Winn Road and Westward Road was widened along the observed desire line.

"A compacted gravel surface was used to improve the surface from previous dirt track and the intention is add a tarmac surface to this.

"As this path is on Common Land it requires s38 agreement to hard surface. This proposed hard surfacing secured planning permission in February 2022, so a s38 application is now being prepared to allow us to tarmac the path."