PLANS to extend a city centre bike and car ban have been called “embarrassing” by campaigners.

Cars and bikes will now not be allowed to use pedestrianised areas of the city centre between 10am and 6pm – two hours longer than the current ban.

Dan Brothwell, chairman of city cycling campaigners Bike Worcester, said the plans were “embarrassing” and Worcester was going backwards and becoming an example of how not to become a sustainable city.

“While towns and cities up and down the country are making changes to enable and encourage active travel and are reaping the rewards of all the benefits this brings, here in Worcester we are going backwards,” he said.

“I find it difficult to believe that Worcester retailers are happy to have customers discouraged from visiting because they arrive by bike.

“There’s evidence showing customer spend increases where active travel is encouraged.

“If this is being done under the remit of safety, it is not supported by evidence. Pedestrians remain at far higher risk of being hit by a motor vehicle, and the consequences are far worse.

“You only need look to the pages of the Worcester News to support this. In short, this is an embarrassment. Worcester is being used as an example nationally of how not to transition to a more sustainable city.”

Cllr Alan Amos, cabinet member for highways at Worcestershire County Council, said the ban will make the city centre “more enjoyable and relaxing” for pedestrians.

The current ban has been extended by two hours from 10.30am to 4.30pm to 10am to 6pm every day.

Emergency vehicles and Royal Mail vans will still be allowed to drive through the city centre. Buses and taxis can use Angel Street and Angel Place to get to the bus station and market and street traders can also use Angel Place and the High Street.

The county council said the extended ban has the support of businesses in the city centre and it had consulted “extensively” with them.

In a statement, Cllr Amos said: “This measure is long overdue and will make the city centre not only much safer for pedestrians but also a much more enjoyable experience.

“This is particularly important at this time when we need to encourage people to get out and about in the High Street and spend money to keep businesses going.

“There is absolutely no need whatsoever for any vehicles to be going through busy pedestrianised streets at these times. We have been working with the police as breach of these rules is a criminal offence.”