THOUSANDS of cyclists who flock to Grafham Water every weekend could soon have a safer route around the reservoir under plans that could add a new off-road track and cycle path. While it looks extremely unlikely that the entire circuit – used by up to 3,

THOUSANDS of cyclists who flock to Grafham Water every weekend could soon have a safer route around the reservoir under plans that could add a new off-road track and cycle path.

While it looks extremely unlikely that the entire circuit - used by up to 3,000 people a day at peak times - will be completely off road, there is £250,000 of funding that could be used to get cyclists off the busy B661.

The vast majority off the circuit is on tracks away from the public highway, but cyclists still have to face two sections of the route - one in Perry and another in Grafham - where the only option is to cycle on the road.

Cambridgeshire County Council and Huntingdonshire District Council are looking at proposals that would get cyclists off the public highway at Perry, which is one of the busiest parts of the route.

One of the options would create a new track starting at the end of Mander Park in Perry which would head eastwards through land controlled by Anglian Water and Grafham Sailing Club and end at the bottom of Chichester Way.

Cyclists would then ride along Chichester Way to where it meets the B661, but instead of using the road a new extended footpath - at least 3m wide - would be created for cyclists and pedestrians.

Another option would be to improve signage and lines on the B661, but the councils' Huntingdonshire traffic management area joint committee suggest parts of the road are unsuitable to improve segregation of cars and bikes.

A report, which is to be considered by the committee on Monday (April 19), adds that it was not possible to extend the track through the grounds of the outdoor centre because of "operational concerns".

There was also a suggestion a new track could be built south of the B661 between Chichester Way and Duberly Close, but highways officers were not keen on cyclists have to twice cross the B661 to reach and leave the track.

Funding for improvements is available through a section 106 agreement following the expansion of Littlehey Prison.

The report states: "The S106 contribution that has been secured represents a real opportunity to find a solution to the ongoing conflict between motorists and cyclists on the B661 and to secure an overall improvement to road safety and significant benefit to cyclists and pedestrians."

The committee has been asked to agree that a public consultation on the proposals is arranged.