WORK to improve a promenade worth £240,000 has been criticised by cyclists.
The coastal maintenance work at Salterns promenade, Hill Head has been completed and many visitors have been using it over the past week.
The promenade has been resurfaced, the timber edging has been replaced and a new cycleway has been built, funded by Fareham Borough Council and the charity Sustrans, which contributed £20,000.
But cyclists are shunning the cycleway as it is made of a mixture of clay, gravel, and sand – called hoggin – preferring to cycle on the newly-laid promenade.
County councillor Christopher Wood said he had received many complaints from cyclists and pedestrians.
Cllr Wood said: ‘The cycleway is a complete and utter embarrassment. We now have the ridiculous situation where cyclists dangerously use the promenade rather than the half-length gravel cycle track because the gravel damages wheels and suspensions of many bikes.’
The track runs along Salterns Park, from Salterns car park to Monks Hill car park.
Cyclist Michael Cooper, of Gosport, regularly cycles 12 miles every day and said he was choosing to avoid the track and take the road.
Mr Cooper, 60, said: ‘I would not ride my bike on it as it is rough and hard to ride. Cyclists won’t use it, they should have just split the promenade.’
Cyclist Alan Reeve, from Lee-on-the-Solent, said a lack of signs was partly to blame.
Mr Reeve said: ‘I am a cyclist but also a driver and I dislike cyclists who cycle without consideration but we are never going to get to a good state unless things are labelled clearly and enforced.
‘I ride a mountain bike but it ought to be a proper track so all cyclists use it and not the promenade – and vice versa that pedestrians do not use it and get in the way of cyclists.’
Hill Head councillor Tim Knight said the surface of the cycleway would eventually bed down and become firmer.
He said it had been laid at the wrong time of year and it would improve in time.
Cllr Knight added that it would have been impossible to tarmac the cycleway as it is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest and that despite the complaints about the cycleway, the works had generally been well-received.
Promenade user Nick Tipping, 51, from Park Gate, said: ‘It is certainly an improvement.’