CYCLISTS should be allowed to use Queen Street once it is pedestrianised, according to the leader of an Oxford cycling campaign group who says it is part of a vital route across the city.

Last month council leaders at Oxfordshire County Council decided that buses should be removed from Queen Street when the new £440m Westgate Centre reopens in October.

This overruled an earlier recommendation by David Nimmo Smith, the cabinet member for transport, who planned to keep Queen Street open to buses on a trial basis.

At the moment cyclists are only allowed to use Queen Street between 6pm and 10am but once the street is pedestrianised restrictions on cycling could be removed.

Simon Hunt, chairman of Oxford-based cycling group Cyclox, said: "If Queen Street is going to be pedestrianised then cyclists should be allowed to use it all the time.

"There is a similar scheme in Croydon where cyclists share space and they have shown cyclists and pedestrians can be compatible.

"It should become a shared space 24 hours a day and there are differing views about whether there should be a cycle way of some sort, a designated cycle route, and pedestrians could avoid that.

"There are some irresponsible cyclists but who will not cycle as sensibly as they should do but the frequency of collisions between pedestrians and cyclists is extraordinarily small.

"We would like the county council to go back to the original proposal for cyclists that it consulted on."

Last year Jacquie Pearce-Gervis, of Patient Voice, said people could get hurt as a result of cyclists sharing space with pedestrians and urged cyclists to get off their bikes in Queen Street and push them along.

She added: "It would avoid accidents if cyclists got off their bikes while they were in Queen Street."

But Mr Hunt said they should not have to dismount on the key 'east-west traverse through the city'.

Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: "The cabinet has agreed that officers will work on a proposal for an experimental traffic regulation order that would pedestrianise Queen Street.

"This would be presented to cabinet for consideration before approval is sought from the Secretary of State for Transport.

"The proposal would address concerns raised regarding St Aldate's and the High Street should Queen Street be pedestrianised.

"Cycling on Queen Street will be reviewed as part of this process.

"The intention would be for the experimental traffic order to be in place in time for the Westgate Centre opening and it would be monitored with a decision taken on the permanent solution after a suitable period of time."

Westgate Oxford will provide around 1,000 new cycle parking spaces to Oxford city centre, and aims to be 'highly accessible' to cyclists when it opens.