A CAMPAIGN is under way to overturn a bike ban on a scenic river path.

Signs ordering an end to cycling on the 2.5-mile Hamble River route between Warsash and Lower Swanwick have started to appear after complaints from some of the residents living along the track.

The move has provoked a furious backlash from regular users, who are gearing up for a major battle to have the ban lifted.

Hampshire County Council says that the route has always been for walkers – but members of the newly-formed Cyclists Along The Shore (CATS) group claim that the path has had dual use for years.

CATS organiser Mike Cummins told the Daily Echo: “The fact is that people have used this path for cycling since time immemorial.

“Many people use it to get to work. It is the obvious route between Warsash and Swanwick, the alternative being via a steep and much more dangerous road route.

“The county council won’t take their signs down until the status of the footpath is changed or until the higher right of cyclists is proven in law. This is a long, drawn-out legal process, which could fail on technical matters. Meanwhile ordinary people are being prevented from cycling along the path as they have always done.”

The county council says that the picturesque route has always been designated as a footpath but that signs have not necessarily been clearly visible in the past.

Now they have installed fresh notices following complaints from residents about cyclists.

Another CATS member, Mike Wren, said that more than 200 people were demanding an end to the clampdown.

He added: “It is a fantastic path to cycle along. I’m confident that we have got enough evidence to demonstrate that we have the legal right to cycle here.”

A spokeswoman for the National Association of Cyclists urged bike users to press for the status of the path to be changed.

She said: “If the path has been used for decades, they do have a case to try to turn it into a bridleway, which would mean access for both pedestrians and cyclists.”