A forward-thinking council has created a practice panel of tarmac to allow horses to become used to the designs in advance. Wokingham Borough Council is planning an “innovative overhaul” of the California Crossroads at Finchampstead, which includes multi-coloured leaf designs on the tarmac near two mini roundabouts, aimed at making them more attractive and encouraging drivers to slow down.

There will also be white leaves painted on new crossings, “so the area feels less centred around vehicles”, a council spokesman said. The council said the changes would make the area “more attractive” and encourage drivers to slow down.

However, animal welfare campaigners have criticised the plans because they believe horses will be scared by them. The council said the new designs were intended to make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the road.

However, some residents have questioned whether they will be able to see oncoming traffic properly when driving over them. The California Crossroads is located close to a junction with the A329 Reading Road, as well as several schools and nurseries. The council has also installed a practice panel of tarmac to allow horses to become used to the designs in advance, as well as providing extra information on alternative routes.

The council said it had considered a different approach to the problem of drivers speeding through the area, but decided against it because “drivers are more likely to slow down if they see something interesting in front of them”. The spokesman said the “innovative overhaul” would make the area more attractive to walkers and cyclists, as well as drivers.

The council said it was “committed to improving road safety in Wokingham”, but the move has provoked criticism from some residents who say they were not consulted.