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Oxford council leader issues call for cycling strategy

University city missing out on cash from developers in absence of comprehensive cycling plan

The leader of Oxford City Council has called on fellow council members to draw up a comprehensive cycling strategy, claiming that the absence of such a plan is causing the city’s cyclists to miss out on benefits that could be provided to them through funding from developers.

The city stands to receive £1.6m of planning gain cash this year, but according to council leader Bob Price, only a fraction will be spent on cycling initiatives in the absence of a solid commitment to cycling from the council.

Mr Price told the Oxford Mail: “Cycling gets peanuts. We can say to developers that we want them to put some money towards cycle stands or improved access, but we cannot say we have a cycling strategy and we would like them to make a contribution to that.”

He added: “What we need to have is a proper cycling strategy that uses developer contributions for a range of improvements.

Councillor Price outlined what he saw as the key areas for the council to focus upon, saying: “There are three keys elements to this – firstly we need to have cycle lanes, which are continuous and safe. Secondly we need a cycle hub in the city centre that allows people to park their bikes safely and securely. And thirdly we need a concerted campaign with employers to ensure they provide cycle parking with the necessary changing facilities because so many people could cycle to work but don’t.

“Until these things are addressed cycling will not attract the money it deserves,” he concluded.

Unlike Cambridge, the city to which it is regularly compared given their historic universities, large student populations and status as tourist destinations, Oxford has failed to achieve Cycling Town status, which it applied for in 2008, thereby missing out on multi-million pound investment in bike-friendly initiatives from Cycling England.

And while Oxfordshire County Council is currently waiting to hear whether it has been successful in its bid to secure funding for improving cycling facilities as part of its 2011-12 local transport plan, improvements proposed on the council website to key roads in the city such as Queen Street, George Street and Magdalen Street focus on reducing the presence of buses to give space over to pedestrians with no mention of how cycling fits into this strategy.

James Styring, of the local cycle campaign group, Cyclox, agrees that historically, Oxford’s cyclists have suffered from lack of investment in facilities for them, although he is optimistic that the situation is starting to improve.

Mr Styring told the Oxford Mail: “Anyone that is used to cycling in Oxford is used to the disjointed nature of the network.

“Unfortunately cycling has been forgotten and there hasn’t been any money in budgets, but we have every reason now to believe the future is relatively bright,” he continued.

“Cyclox recently consulted its members and they said they wanted to see the network on the main roads improved and completed – obvious examples being under the railway bridge on Botley Road and the approach to The Plain roundabout, where even experienced cyclists find it difficult to get to the other side.

“Until new money from the Government appears it’s crucial the city and county councils secure as much developer money as possible for cycling improvements.

“The sort of things we are talking about are very easy and cheap to do – and the benefits are enormous in all sorts of ways,” he added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Simon_MacMichael | 14 years ago

Fair comments, Skippy, found myself nodding in agreement - I live in Woodstock, used to be in Wolvercote. Back then I was working in St Clements, so yes, the joys of Longwall St to the Plain - almost got taken out by a police car who cut right across me to park (bear in mind I'm going from Magdalen Bridge to St Clements, ie first exit...!)

Driver was very apologetic considering the language I used...  14

Look forward to seeing your blog post  1

skippy | 14 years ago

forgot to mention that you can follow my adventures on and i will get to blog about riding in Oxford on one rainy day, should be fun for some of the bike shops there!

skippy | 14 years ago

Oxford is a place where theives go equipped to remove anything not nailed to the pavement! As you move around the inner city you will see the same bikes locked to railings where they were stripped by the opportunists and the owner has given up and left the remainder!
Outside westgate and the rail station you will see an accumulation of undesirable two wheeled items and yet these also get regularly pilfered!
When even a disreputable item can be left alone then there may be light at the end of the tunnel!
parking on bike lanes is regarded as normal so riding at a snails pace is the safest possibility!
Buses get their nose a mm in front of you and then either you stop or they shoulder you onto the pavement!
reporting the matter to a bus inspecter or the police results in a demand for witnesses who do not even help you up!
Oxford is a lovelly city to ride in as long as you are able to go faster than the infuriated driver who sees you as a challenge to their sovereignty! getting from long wall to the plain in front of a bus is a challenge but the only way to survive as once into cowley or iffley road only then you can relax!
Oxford can never be rebuilt but the drivers could be re educated to help cyclists survive!

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