ONE of the widest cycle lanes in Britain has opened much to the anger of Dorset road users who have been left with less room than bike users.

The cycle path, which is 11 feet and two inches across, has been created by narrowing the width of the busy Wimborne B-road alongside it.

As a result, cars, lorries, busses and emergency vehicles have been left with nine foot and five inch wide lanes.

Despite being more than half as wide as the two-lane road, cyclists are still using the regular carriageway instead of the freshly Tarmacked bike lane.

Residents in Wimborne Road West have reported chaotic scenes since the new path was recently opened.

There have reportedly been incidents of lorries clipping wing mirrors as they pass each other, angry motorists shouting at cyclists for not using the path and cars veering into the oncoming lane to avoid bicycles.

Dorset Echo: Wimborne Road West. Picture: BNPSWimborne Road West. Picture: BNPS

A 38-year-old woman, who works at a garage along the B3073, said: "There's more room now for cyclists than there is for drivers.

"We have a Jewsons building merchants on the road that lorries use all the time.

"Just the other day we had two lorries smashed their mirrors trying to pass each other on opposite sides of the road.

"Other lorries are having to pull into the cycle lane to pass safely.

"It's an absolute shambles. There is the same amount of traffic going in and out of the town, but now half the amount of space.

"Cyclists who are still using the road are getting abuse from drivers - even those on the opposite side of the road."

Dorset Echo: Picture: BNPSPicture: BNPS

A 62-year-old man who has lived in a house beside the cycle path for decades said his front garden was seized by the local council in the 1960s to make the road wider.

Now he is perplexed by their decision to do the opposite.

He said: "Back in the 1960s, the council took away our front gardens to make the road wider and safer - now they have narrowed it again at a time when traffic is far heavier than it was then.

"People here are not very happy with the over exaggeration of the cycle path. We were never informed and no letters came through our letter box about it. I noticed one morning in January that they were building it.

"A neighbourhood consultation asked how the area could be improved and whether cycle routes could be better, which many people agreed to without understanding the details of what would be built.

"The whole thing is just a big gamble. It is the main road into Wimborne and the width could cause real issues for emergency vehicles because the layby has been removed.

"Around 50 per cent of the vehicles on the road are trade and heavy goods vehicles. It's chaos.

"In the past you could overtake a bike whereas now you can't safely do this.

"At the moment lots of cyclists are still using the carriageway because there are obstructions further down the new cycle lane. You have to go into the opposite lane to avoid them."

However, the AA said the cycle lane should make it safer for cyclists.

AA spokesman Jack Cousins said: "The cycle lane actively encourages drivers to look out for cyclists and maintain a safe distance.

"From a design point of view, they could have made equal room for both cyclists and drivers and built some kind of barrier or raised curb to separate the cycle lane.

"That may encourage cyclists to use it instead of the carriageway."

The cycle way is part of a major £120 million scheme which aims to make travel more sustainable and reduce congestion across the county of Dorset.

It is one of four routes being built in Dorset, part-funded by £100 million from the government's Rebuilding Cities programme.

Once completed, the cycle lane will be 1.4 miles long and connect to a 16 mile route linking Poole, Wimborne and Ferndown.

A spokesperson for Dorset Council said: "Almost 80km of new cycle lanes, pedestrian pavements, and bus service improvements are being constructed in south east Dorset.

"They form a major part of the region's Transforming Travel programme.

"This programme is looking to promote change in the way people travel by providing safe infrastructure for alternative, green forms of transport and encouraging people to leave the car at home, particularly for shorter journeys."