Historically Oxford has a profound link with cycling. This relationship needs to be nurtured, along with better access to cycles and safer routes in and around Oxford. Slowly, more people are switching from four wheels to two, writes city councillor David Henwood.
The racks in front of the Westgate and Carfax are always full, and more could be done to create new parking opportunities to encourage more cyclists in Oxford.
The political will for change is unilateral across all parties.
A recent transport select committee’s report highlighted £10 per head (currently £2 per head) of population should be spent on cycling by 2020.
Wendy Jennings is Oxfordshire County Council’s specialist for delivering cycling courses at local schools. Teachers, parents and school governors should encourage headteachers to take advantage of the team’s expertise and invite them in for training their children to ride safely.
There is a £347,000 Cycle City fund to improve cycling in the area.
Oxford City Council’s John Tanner, who took on the council’s transport role, said: “I’d like your readers to let us know what they’d like to see us do, and look for solutions.
“I’d really like people’s ideas about where the council should spend this money. The thing about cycling is that you can spend very little amounts and transform the situation.”
The Cycle City funds need to be spent by the end of the 2015-16 financial year.
I think Oxford should lead the country by introducing cycling courses for older generations.Revisiting two wheels in a social context would improve knowledge and understanding not only of the newer technology in cycles, but would also reduce the vulnerability older cyclists feel when on the road.
Targeting this older group has proven values in reducing heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity – expected to cost the NHS £5bn a year.
We plan to introduce a toddlers’ fun bike experience to develop a sense of responsibility in the October half-term in Florence Park.
If successful this could be rolled out to older age groups.
We need to raise the profile of cycling not just as a means to be healthier and safer but also as a means of protecting our environment.
Cycle lanes have to adapt to the physical characteristics of each street.
This shouldn’t stop us from seeking better ways to make cyclists safer.
It’s usually fastest to use a bike for an Oxford journey, the city centre’s simple street pattern makes for short trips by bike, writes Cyclox committee member Graham Smith.
At the same time the ever-increasing size and number of buses and other vehicles means that junctions are congested for motorised travel.
A late afternoon ride from the John Radcliffe Hospital to St Aldate’s can easily take three times longer by bus.
But the risk presented by motor vehicles to people cycling is significant.
Cycling commuters report serious near-misses at a rate of around one a week for a weekly commute.
Even though Oxford is known for cycling, the risks presented by the current road traffic system are off-putting.
Learning from north European traffic it might be expected that cycling in Oxford could be doubled or greater.
Such a rate would increase efficiency, reduce noise, increase health levels and reduce energy consumption.
If more children and young people were allowed to use bikes for independent travel it could release many hours of escort journeys for parents and relatives.
But this will not happen.
The county council, now in charge of highways, will not provide safe space for cycling.
Even when the Government gave out nearly a million pounds for redesigning The Plain, the county reneged on its proposal and instead designed an efficient bus junction with most cycling space compromised by bus manoeuvres.
While national, county and city policies give lip service to a road design hierarchy where pedestrians and cyclists come first, Oxfordshire has chosen to prioritise the bus.
The city, too, has more or less acceded to this policy by regarding cycle infrastructure, eg segregated provision where possible, as being inappropriate for the historic core of the city.
Better to have stone paving without bike paths: look at the proposal for Frideswide Square.
Look at the redesigned High St, a bus free-for-all, narrow pavements and only about seven metres of safe space for cycling.
The bus services can be great in Oxford, unless you want to cross the city centre in the wrong way, make connected or many orbital journeys.
Cycling represents a significant percentage of work and education trips now, in spite of the conditions.
We must make “space for cycling”, like London is beginning to do, and then all city journeys will be improved.