Lancashire County Council has spent more than £5,000 raising street signs by four inches in Preston city centre.
It has been revealed the reason for the work, on three signs, is to prevent cyclists hitting their heads as they use the new ‘shared space’ from a path linking Marsh Lane to Ringway, along Ringway and Corporation Street.
Although council officials have not revealed the number of accidents or specifically accidents affecting cyclists in the area, they state the shared use section – for pedestrians and cyclists – has been brought in to improve safety and reduce congestion.
The work has cost a total of £5,273 and also involves markings for the new section, hedge cutting and new fencing.
John Gatheral, highway design manager for Lancashire County Council, said: “Work is currently taking place to provide a safe off-road shared-use section along Ringway from Marsh Lane to Corporation Street.
“This has involved raising several signs along the route to provide the minimum required height clearance for cyclists.
“Markings and other signs have been put in place to make people aware of this new shared use section.”
When asked about poles also obstructing the path, an LCC spokesman added: “The aim is to provide a safe cycling route for people, which encourages more cycling, benefits people’s health and helps to reduce congestion on the roads by providing people with alternative ways to travel in and out of the city.
“One of the poles is being moved to ensure that there is adequate space for cyclists to travel in between, however there was no need to move the others. This is based on our usual guidelines which apply to all routes used by cyclists. “The new markings also help to guide people along this section.”
The scheme has met with a mixed reaction from cyclists and people online.
At a time when jobs and vital services are under-threat because of £262m cuts, there have been criticisms on social media - especially as one of the signs is defunct.
One man said: “Maybe they want to try and sort the potholes out before doing pointless stuff like this that costs us all.”
Another commented: “So much for having no money to spend and putting council tax up.”
The council said it is looking into ways to improve one of the signs in Ringway, which is meant to display available parking spaces in the area.
Peter Ward, co-founder of Preston’s Guild Wheel, said: “Shared spaces in general work well as long as people are careful.”
He added: “We do have some signs with vertical poles in the middle of our shared spaces but we have tried to put fluorescent strips around them so that people have plenty of warning approaching them.”
Bill Nickson, cyclist and owner of Bill Nickson Cycles in Towngate, Leyland, welcomed the shared space move.
He said: “On the whole shared spaces are a good thing, anything that gets you out of the traffic and away from the shocking state of the roads.
“But both cyclists and pedestrians have to pay attention. Cyclists need to slow down for pedestrians, and pedestrians have to be careful of stepping out without looking.
“We are light years behind lots of places in Europe that have had them for years and people have become well used to them and they work.
“They do need splitting up though, marked half and half, rather than just lobbing everyone in together.”