CYCLISTS have criticised the planned unveiling of an orbital bike route in York as city leaders are set to decide whether a controversial cycle lane should be removed.

City of York Council’s cabinet will tonight assess options for reinstating the left-hand traffic lane at the junction of Clifton Green and Water End, after it was taken away in 2009 to make more space for cyclists.

The authority’s Labour group pledged to bring back the car lane when it took power last year and a recent survey showed the strongest support was for an option costing £12,000 rather than a scheme which would cost about £35,000.

However, 106 of the 178 people who took part in the consultation – together with all three emergency services – said the junction should stay as it is and council officers have admitted the changes would make it less safe for cyclists, although they would reduce congestion and deter motorists from using nearby residential roads instead.

The council was yesterday due to officially launch York’s orbital cycle route, described as a “positive step forward for cyclists”

But the unveiling was called off at the last minute as the “necessary people” were not available.

Cyclists and the council’s Green leader, Coun Andy D’Agorne, said celebrating the route was at odds with the potential removal of the Clifton Green/Water End cycle lane.

Ron Healey, of Shipton Road, who campaigned for the lane’s survival said: “It makes no sense to officially open a cycle route the day before a decision could be taken to close part of it.

“Removing the lane at the junction would be a waste of money and will not help York to achieve the cycling levels it wants to achieve or cut congestion.”

Coun D’Agorne claimed the route launch was “spin” and a “distraction” from the Clifton Green and Water End controversy.

“He said: “Reinstating the vehicle lane effectively undermines the concept of a continuous cycle route around the city.”

Coun Dave Merrett, the council’s cabinet member for city strategy, has described the junction as an “important, but difficult part of the road network” in York.

He said reintroducing the traffic lane would allow the authority to “honour the commitment” made by Labour to bring it back and make it easier for motorists to use the area while “also catering for other road-users”.