A cycle route in North Oxford has been divided into two lanes after 600 students from nearby Cherwell School signed a petition requesting the change. The school said that separate lanes were needed due to the large number of children using the path as around 1,300 of its 1,900 pupils cycle in for lessons every day.
The petition was handed to Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for transport, David Nimmo Smith, and the work has now been completed.
Teacher Tony Gray, who is also a member of the Cherwell Cycling Club, told the Bicester Advertiser that the cycle route alongside Marston Ferry Road had become so busy during peak hours that it was no longer safe.
“As a school we have campaigned for this change because we believe strongly that it will make a difference.
“We have a huge volume of students going down there in peak hours and our responsibility is to help facilitate that in a safe way. But it is also used more widely by many local people.”
Cherwell school has been giving pupils road safety lessons and Gray said having two lanes would make things clearer and safer. “This will make best practice that little bit clearer for everyone and help reinforce our messages about safety.”
St Margaret’s county councillor John Howson, who supported the campaign, said that the change was a good example of a small change that makes a big difference. “It is absolutely wonderful news and the school is already reaping the benefits with better lane discipline and more effective use of the cycle track.”
Nimmo Smith said the county council was supportive of changes that would improve cycle routes for school pupils. “Anything that improves safety for pedestrians and cyclists can only be a good thing and that is something the council continues to look at across the county.”
A number of cycling projects are currently planned for the area. However, last month saw criticism of a proposed cycling link between East Oxford and the city centre using a new bridge over the Thames. Campaigners say that it is not needed.
Nimmo Smith believes the bridge will go a long way towards creation of a joined-up cycling network, providing a route from Iffley Road into the centre, but Simon Hunt, chair of cycling campaign group Cyclox, said the money could have been put to better use.
“It’s not well spent at all, it’s very bizarre. I don’t understand how this has come about. It’s not how we would have spent £3 million, it’s pretty low priority stuff. That doesn’t mean we don’t welcome the funding but we think it’s been misspent.”