OXFORD’S share of a newly-announced £114m grant could be spent on a fully connected city cycle network or teaching cycling in schools, campaigners have said.
As one of eight ‘Cycling Ambition Cities’, Oxford can bid for a share of the Department for Transport cash, earmarked to make cycling safer and more popular.
The new cash pot was announced yesterday by Nick Clegg, although cities must bid for their share of the cash.
Last year Oxford was named in the exclusive group of eight along with Bristol, Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Norwich.
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But it has emerged the county council received just over one per cent of a £77m kitty made available for these cities last year.
The £835,000 awarded to the county council came after it bid for a scheme to redesign The Plain Roundabout.
Cabinet member for Transport David Nimmo Smith said: “We continue to be highly ambitious about how we improve the transport network for cyclists in the city and are currently drawing up plans to create a fully connected cycling network to encourage a wide range of existing and new cyclists to cycle more often.
“Our approach is we want to prioritise schemes that have either health benefits or economic benefits. Hopefully we can take cars off the road, improve traffic flow and journeys for road users in and around the city.”
Work to make The Plain more cycle-friendly is due to begin in January.
Mr Nimmo Smith hoped for a better deal this time around.
“We are hoping to have a better dialogue this year and I’m hoping we will get a better deal.”
Cycle repair and training shop Broken Spoke bike co-op manager Sam Chappell called for more money to be spent on tuition and raising awareness among young cyclists.
He said: “Investments in infrastructure are necessary and, yes, the roads are a pretty hairy place to cycle, but changing infrastructure isn’t going to change the way people use the roads.
“Oxford is very behind in its cycling training in schools. There are central
Government funds available to introduce the Government’s ‘Bikeability’ training in schools but the county council doesn’t make the most of it, they don’t see it as a problem.
“The money would be better spent in raising awareness, tuition and training.”
Neither Mr Nimmo Smith, nor cabinet memeber for education Melinda Tilley, could tell the Oxford Mail what cycle training provision was currently given in county schools.
A county council spokesman Dominic Llewellyn-Jones did not say how much the council recieved from the earmarked Government Bikeability fund, nor how much of it the authority used.
He added: “Oxfordshire County Council are able to claim up to £10,000 per year, for Bikeability schemes, which is enough to cover the training of 250 children.
“The money can only be claimed once a scheme has been carried out and so the amount claimed will be entirely dependent on the number of children enrolled on a course that year.”
City Council board member for Transport John Tanner said he was “absolutely thrilled” at the newly-available Cycling Ambition Cities funding and outlined his desire for a joined-up network.
He also called for separate green lights for cyclists and money to tackle cars parking in cycle lanes.
Oxford City Council recently allocated a separate pot of £367,000 to be spent between 2012 and 2016 on a number of cycling improvements, such as park-and-ride cycle parking and signage. Part of that cash has gone to The Plain roundabout.
Mr Tanner said: “I’d like to see a joined-up network of cycle routes across the city. We want a situation so that wherever you are in Oxford there is a safe cycle route to get you to where you are going.
“I want more provision for cyclists at junctions. We could get a green light for cyclists just before the cars. If we want to get people out of their cars and on their bikes we have to make cycling a more enjoyable experience.”
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