Oxford Mail:

Oxford city councillor Louise Upton

Through fields of cows, past a cricket pitch, over the river teeming with ducks and geese, my path is criss-crossed by squirrels and occasionally a deer, and overhead red kites are circling as I cycle to work.

Where do I live and work? Inside the Oxford ring road.

Oxford is small enough that almost everywhere is less than half an hour away by bike.

Equipped with a set of lights and some waterproofs I can do everything by bike.

This medieval city was not designed for 26,000 people to drive in to it every day.

Where I work there are 350 employees and 14 parking spaces, plus hundreds of students.

This produces a critical mass of cyclists. The traffic lights in Broad Street at rush hour looks like old Beijing – nothing but bikes!

Cherwell School has the highest proportion of children cycling to school in the whole country.

There are great bike clubs for people of all ages and sexes, like Zappi’s (run by an ex-Italian professional cyclist), Isis (short bike rides for women), Oxford City Road Club, and the Cowley Road Condors.

And from Oxford, MAMILs (Middle-Aged Men In Lycra) can be out in the countryside in minutes.

There are superb bike shops run by real enthusiasts.

And if you want to have a go at fixing your own bike, roll up at the Broken Spoke Bike Co-op in Pembroke Street, for loads of friendly help and advice.

Oxford not only has branches of the national cycling groups – Sustrans and Cycle Touring Club – but our very own Cyclox group that campaigns for cycling in Oxford.

Join them and get their map of low-traffic routes for getting round the city.

Cycling is the best and cheapest way to reduce congestion, pollution and obesity.

I know too many people are put off by pot-holed roads and fading cycle lanes, and as a city councillor I am very frustrated by our limited powers over this.

Let’s hope the county council delivers the network of “premium” cycling routes it has promised to make this not just a great cycling city but the best in the UK.

So what are you waiting for, get on yer bike.

A plea to everyone reading this – if you are a cyclist – get some lights, wear a bright jacket and don’t jump the lights.

If you are a motorist – be nice to cyclists, they are keeping the roads and GP surgeries from getting clogged up.

Yes but...

Oxford Mail:

Dan Levy, from the campaign group Cyclox

It would be silly to argue that Oxford is a bad place to use a bicycle.

There are clearly lots of worse places – even Cambridge has some black spots, outside the city centre.

But Oxford could be much better than it currently is, without the expenditure of huge amounts of money or inconveniencing people who choose other forms of transport.

There are a number of places where cycling either is dangerous or feels dangerous, or where cyclists are forced to make unnecessarily long detours.

What is more, the situation has been getting worse rather than better in recent years.

Here’s some obvious examples (any Oxford bike user can probably think of a dozen more): p The junction of George St and Hythe Bridge Street – where the traffic lights have been set up to encourage cyclists into oncoming traffic. A junction that was designed by Oxfordshire’s planners without any thought being given to cyclists at all, so that the signage and the road markings are all ignorant of a key set of road users.

p Queen Street – where we are told that vulnerable people on bikes are more dangerous than 10 tonne buses. And which is of course the obvious east-west route through the city, particularly with George St being made more dangerous.

p Woodstock Road – with its feeble cycle path including the infamous “give way to the tree” instructions.

p The new Parkway station – where Chiltern Railways has provided great bike racks, and Oxfordshire CC has done nothing – not even a safe crossing, let alone a cycle lane – to help people get there from Oxford or Kidlington without adding to the traffic jams.

p Botley Road with its new cycling chicane by Waitrose.

And we will wait and see with Frideswide Square, but the signs are not good. It still is not clear how cyclists are meant to get into and out of the “shared space” in the square without braving the roundabouts and turning buses.

None of these things should have been as bad as they are.

All they need is planners and councillors who remember people on bikes as more than an afterthought.

Cycling should not be restricted to people who feel confident enough to compete with the infrastructure – it should be for everyone.