MOTORISTS have been warned they will be risking a parking ticket if they continue to park in the new cycle lanes on Richmond Hill.

The new continental-style segregated cycle lanes, which were part of a £384,000 scheme to improve the entrance into the town centre, are currently being used as a parking layby by some drivers.

Photographs taken by the Echo show how the scheme is currently being abused, with motorists parking on the cycle lane outside Nationwide, on the pavement and jutting out into the road.

We also captured a skateboarder travelling at speed down Richmond Hill during the evening rush hour and the new shared space at the junction with Yelverton Road also seems to be causing confusion with some.

The latest stage of the Government-funded scheme has seen four new single seats installed on Richmond Hill, at a total cost of £4,427.40. There is also tree planting to be finished before the scheme can be declared complete.

Bournemouth Borough Council said once this is done, wardens will be patrolling the area and issuing tickets to anyone blocking the cycle lane.

Cllr Michael Filer, cabinet member with responsibility for transport, said: "I have noticed cars parked on the cycle lanes but until the project is 100 per cent completed, we are not able to enforce the traffic regulations.

"In the rest of the town you don't see people parking in cycle lanes and I don't think it will be any different here once the project is completed. We will then be able to enforce the cycle lanes and you will see a big improvement."

Ian Kalra, head of transportation services at the council, said the new road layout would create a "safer and more welcoming environment" once completed in early May.

“Unfortunately a small number of motorists have been parking on the new cycle lane," he said. "We would like to remind motorists that the cycle lane is in place to increase safety. Once the scheme is complete we will be carrying out enforcement in the area to ensure the cycle lane remains clear."

He said the new layout aimed to reduce traffic speed and "safely integrate road users."

"The idea is to slow people down and encourage them to take additional care as there may be some uncertainty as to who has priority. While the new layout does not include road markings, clear signage to indicate one-way streets is still in place.

"As with any new road layout we appreciate there is a settling in period as road users adjust to the new design, and we will be liaising with the major employers to communicate new restrictions to their staff."

Workers at Nationwide told the Echo they were unconvinced the scheme had improved Richmond Hill. One said: "The cycle lane is completely pointless, you just get cars parked here. The road looks better with the new surfacing and the widened pavements are nice but I don't think there are any real improvements."

And another added: "The lack of road markings means there is potential for more accidents. I've seen cars parked in the cycle lanes but why would you want to cycle up such a steep hill anyway?"