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'Cyclists are getting a raw deal from county council'
CYCLING campaigners say they are getting a raw deal with the amount spent on dedicated schemes in the county.
A Freedom of Information response released by the charity Bike Safe West Oxfordshire revealed £1.07m – 1.5 per cent – of a £69m highways capital budget has been spent on projects specifically of benefit to cyclists since May 2010.
Bike Safe is campaigning for an off-road cycle track alongside the busy B4044 between Eynsham and Botley, but claims Oxfordshire County Council has refused to meet its representatives to talk about a proposed joint bid for Government cash.
The council, which is responsible for most road schemes, defended itself, saying that cyclists benefited from many other road improvement schemes.
But Bike Safe chairman and Farmoor resident Ian Leggett, 62, said: “There is a serious need for the leadership of the county council to make investment in cycling infrastructure a greater priority.
“The community path project enjoys enormous popular support and will make a huge difference to all road users who travel along the Eynsham Road.
“The community path ticks all the boxes of the county’s transport policies – but they seem to be happier moaning about their lack of funds, rather than making an effort to bring in new money.”
He said his organisation had urged the council to bid for Government cash for cycling schemes, but claims it has been ignored.
He said: “They wouldn’t even meet with us to talk about it. I just don’t understand it. This would be extra money coming into the county.”
Council spokesman Paul Smith said: “When the county council spends money on general highway maintenance and repair, and upgrading routes such as the relatively recent improvements to the Iffley Road in Oxford, this money is spent for the benefit of cyclists every bit as much as it is on motorists, bus users and pedestrians.
“Presenting statistics to try to create the most negative angle possible won’t change that.”
He said the council was always willing to put in bids for funding to help pay for road improvements around the county.
He said: “Central government has recently announced an investment of £62m in cycling across the country and we will be looking to see if further cycle facilities can be delivered in Oxfordshire.”
But he warned: “Many funding arrangements require an element of match funding, and so large expensive schemes are unlikely to be progressed by the county council at this time.”
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