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Oxford cycling campaign slams council approach to bike infrastructure

Consistent funding needed, not "glitzy nuggets"...

Oxford's cycling campaign group has slammed the local authority's approach to cycling provision and called for consistent funding to get people on  their bikes.

Oxford received £835,000 in the last round of Cycle City Ambition funding, but Cyclox chairman Simon Hunt says the city needs much more to fix problems with its cycling infrastructure.

He told ThisIsOxfordshire's Callum Keown: “The direct network routes within Oxford city are at present very fragmented, cobbled-together as poorly-designed afterthoughts.

“They are woefully shoddily maintained.

“They aren’t designed as they should be for inclusive cycling, that is, for all kinds of cyclists.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recently announced a further £114 million for Cycle City Ambition grant recipients. If this is distributed in similar proportion to the initial £77 million, Oxford would get just £1.24 million.

It's not enough, Hunt says.

He told ThisIsOxfordshire: “Patchy funding like this is never going to get Britain cycling.

“We need consistent, long-term, dependable funding rising from an initial £10 per head per year if we are to get near Dutch and Danish levels of cycling.”

Oxford's initial Cycle City Ambition cash was granted to fund just one project, a revamp of Plain roundabout, a complicated 5-exit junction that is estimated to carry over 17,000 bikes per day.

Oxford County Council has been criticised for its plans for Plain roundabout, which blogger Liz Batty has described as "incredibly unambitious".

According to Batty, the plan consists of "some pavement" to slow down motor traffic, with "no segregation … nothing but some paint and the hope that making cars and bikes go round together will slow everything down and make everyone happy".

Despite costing a total of £965,000, the Plain roundabout scheme is intended as a 'stage 1' project. The council said "the concept of some sort of semi-segregated cycle lanes on the roundabout could be revisited at a later stage".

Simon Hunt said Cyclox's ideas for further Cycle City Ambition spending might not be the kind of “glitzy nugget” that would attract government funding.

He said: “Cyclox would strongly support better access to Old Road Campus and Churchill Hospital sites.

“We would also suggest attractive and inclusive cycle access into the planned new Oxford railway station from West Oxford, by adding walkways and cycleways on both sides of the road.”

He added that current cycling routes around Oxford needed improving.

“These routes have appalling sections," he said.

“The new money over the next two to three years would be best spent on well-surfaced, joined-up, pothole-free, mainly segregated cycle paths designed for inclusive cycling along these routes.”

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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