NEW cycle lanes which are completely separated from roads will be set up across the district in an effort to reduce the reliance on cars and public transport.

One of the new ideas being considered is a new cycle route which would run adjacent to the A12.

Witham North county councillor James Abbott said he had held discussions over the scheme with his colleagues at County Hall.

The A12 is due to be widened to three lanes in both directions between Chelmsford and Marks Tey in the next eight years.

Braintree councillors unanimously voted in favour of enhancing cycle routes across the region during a meeting.

It will see the authority focus on connecting towns and villages with cycle routes by improving existing paths or creating new ones from scratch.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Abbott, who is also leader of the Green and Independent group, said: "Over the years, investment has been made into cycling and we welcome that.

"But the reality is it has not been enough and cycling routes remain partly completed or are not joined up to key points and often tend to be focused on the urban areas.

"Half of our residents live in villages and rural areas.

"Investment in safe, segregated cycling will without doubt have direct health benefits, as well as reducing traffic on the roads, which will in turn reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions."

Mr Abbott also stated cycling will continue to increase in popularity as it allows for social distancing - something which will likely be needed until a vaccine is found for Covid-19.

Current advice from the Government is to avoid all forms of public transport where necessary meaning more people are using cars and bikes as an alternative way to get around.

Plans to bolster cycling routes across the district were approved by all parties on the council, with Conservative councillor Tom Cunningham saying the issue had become "even more pertinent" since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Tom Walsh, Independent councillor for Coggeshall, added: "As we come out of lockdown and find a new normal, I think would be a great way to reduce pressure on public transport and congestion on the roads. "I hope our council will seize this once in a generation opportunity and act as other leading councils are doing."