Amid much fanfare, the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane has finally opened.

Government transport minister Norman Baker, council leader Jason Kitcat and transport committee chairman Ian Davey all leapt on their bikes to launch the new lane this week.

It is Brighton and Hove City Council’s flagship cycle policy based on a Danish-style design which segregates cyclists from motor vehicles.

The 1.5km stretch from The Drive to Dyke Road in Hove cost £690,000 and included a new zebra crossing at Chanctonbury Road, alterations to bus stops and changes to side junctions.

In a public consultation in September 2011, the council claimed 75% of respondents were in favour of the construction.

It was funded by £330,000 from sustainable transport charity Sustrans, £310,000 from the council and a further £50,000 from developer contributions.

Views on the £700,000 cycle lane

John Streeter, from Streamline Taxis, said: “It is an absolute nightmare.

“If you come out on one of the side roads you have to be so careful. It is the biggest waste of money since The Drive. What they have done in other places is the lane is on one side of the street. But here it is on both sides of the road and creates difficulties.

“They could have had it on just one side. None of our drivers have given it a favourable report. I am yet to speak to anyone who has been in favour of it. And how many cyclists have used it? I went on it seven times in one morning and did not see one.

“In an ideal world I would like to see cyclists needing insurance which would protect them and pedestrians.

“I was picking someone up at a nursing home along there and I had to stop in the road. I was there less than a minute but it could have led to a build up of traffic if it was at a busier time and was dangerous.”

Becky Reynolds, a Bricycles campaigner, said: “We warmly welcome the long-awaited improvements for cyclists and pedestrians.

“Proposals were first made in 2005 and attracted Brighton and Hove’s original Cycling Demonstration Town funding, but plans for the road were shelved by the previous Conservative council.

“We have campaigned for improvements to this road for many years. This much-needed East-West route joins several schools and will enable daily commuter and utility cycling in this busy part of the city.

“The facilities are good for the less confident cyclist. There are considerable improvements at the junctions with advanced stop lines for cyclists and an innovative and highly beneficial “early phase” for cyclists at the traffic lights with The Upper Drive which I saw in action today, These cyclist lights are also in place at the junction with The Drive. Lane widths are good and the surface is smooth.

“The speed of traffic appears to have reduced which is to the clear benefit of all road users. It remains important for drivers to fulfil their duty of care towards cyclists at all times, particularly at the junctions, and by of course, not parking in the lanes.

“We are happy to liaise with the council on any fine tuning as we all become accustomed to this significant new facility.”

Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, Brighton and Hove City Council’s Conservative group leader, said: “I do have concerns about how much all this has cost and I did suggest at the time this was agreed that it would be better value for money to make improvements to, and properly enforce, the Dyke Road cycle lane. Segregated lanes, such as the Old Shoreham Road one, may be the Rolls Royce of cycle lanes but can we really afford a Rolls Royce in these difficult economic times? “Its construction has also caused massive disruption for quite a few months now and I still have concerns about how narrow this has made the main carriageway for traffic.

“There could also be a safety issue where the cycle lane becomes a shared cycleway/pavement and I would like to see this very carefully monitored to ensure there are no accidents. Having said all that, I do support encouraging more people – and especially young people – to ride to school, to work or simply to get some exercise. I also welcome the continuation of the work we started on much-needed crossing improvements at Shirley Drive and The Upper Drive which have previously been a nightmare for pedestrians.”

Councillor Ian Davey, Brighton and Hove City Council’s transport committee chairman, said: “I am really pleased with the response to the improvements so far – we have had very positive feedback from local residents and road-users.

“We will of course monitor the situation over the next six months so that we can make an accurate assessment of the impact of the changes.

“However the initial results indicate that as well as the obvious safety improvements for vulnerable road-users, traffic speeds are also dropping from the previous limit-busting average of 45mph towards the actual speed limit of 30mph. If this continues, we should start to see a reduction in the number and severity of accidents on this important road, which has three schools and a sixth form College adjacent as well as a number of parks.

“There is never a one-size-fits-all solution. This scheme deals with areas such as the narrower bridge over the railway and bus stops with innovative shared use pedestrian priority areas, supported by signage, cycle training and awareness-raising at the local schools.

“Much of the new layout was funded by a £330,000 grant from national transport charity Sustrans and £50,000 from local employer Legal and General meaning this scheme represents great value for money for local residents. Overall I am confident that the changes have now transformed a road that was unwelcoming and inhospitable to one that can be shared by all, whether they choose to travel by foot, bike, bus or car.”

Reporter Peter Truman describes some of his experiences while cycling along the new cycle lane this week

One of the fundamental things about cyclists is we do not like stopping.

Whereas in a car you merely have to exert a little pressure from your right foot to get going again, on a bike getting started is the hardest part.

This is doubly so if, like me, you ride a one-speed bike.

Those who designed the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane seem to have forgotten this key point. While the majority of the length of the route is divided, there are a few sections which become mixed use for cyclists and pedestrians.

And so flying along on my road bike I am stopped in my tracks by passengers alighting from a bus, as the bus stop is in the cycle lane and the buses pull up to the cycle lane kerb rather than the pedestrian kerb.

Given its raised and separated profile from the road, it is more dangerous for me to try to overtake the bus than it would be if I was simply on the road but if I stay in the cycle lane I am effectively halted.

The lane has many good points, not least the smoothness of the ride and the fact you feel safer being separated most of the time.

However, I did have concerns at junctions that motorists would mistake the cycle lane kerb and overstep the mark.

As a cyclist and commuter, any attempt to make cycling safer is always welcome and far better than having to brave rush hour traffic.

But I couldn’t help but feel simply making sure the road surface was up to scratch, which motorists would appreciate too, and clearly dividing the cycle lane from the main road would have sufficed.