CYCLISTS and pedestrians wanting to cross York's River Ouse have been left facing a lengthy and hazardous detour after the Millennium Bridge was marooned this week by floodwaters.

The bridge itself remained well above the floodwaters after the River Ouse rose to 4.63 metres above normal summer levels.

But the approach path from Butcher Terrace, on the South Bank side, was deep under floodwaters, making it impossible to get to the bridge.

The impact is huge on a cyclist who wants, for example, to get from South Bank to the University of York and would normally have a relatively safe and swift journey via Butcher Terrace, over the bridge and then along Hospital Fields Road and a cycle track across Walmgate Stray.

The loss of the footbridge means they would have to go on a diversion down Bishopthorpe Road and across Skeldergate Bridge and Castle Mills Bridge and along Fishergate, mixing for most of the way with traffic.

The extent to which the Millennium Bridge is used both by cyclists and pedestrians was revealed last year by York Cycle Campaign. It said that counts carried out by local residents and the campaign had shown that during the morning rush hour, about 500 cyclists and 250 pedestrians travelled the Butcher Terrace/Millennium Bridge route, including many school and nursery age children.

Cllr Andy D'Agorne, Fishergate Green Party councillor and executive member for transport on City of York Council, yesterday held out hope for an end to the bridge flood problems - if not immediately.

He said the authority had some capital funds earmarked for raising the level of the path on the Butcher Terrace side.

However, he said the Butcher Terrace area was going to be used by the Environment Agency for access to Clementhorpe, where work was due to start shortly on the construction of new flood defences. It therefore made sense for the work in raising the path to the bridge to take place as part of the restoration work, once it ceased to be a worksite for the agency.

He added that the other side of the bridge was always above flood level, at least for access to and from Maple Grove.