CYCLISTS and election candidates from across Oxfordshire rallied together under the beaming sunshine as they shared their vision for a county-wide bicycle network.

The mass gathering outside County Hall saw troupes of cyclists pedal from their homes to New Road to hear from candidates from the across the political spectrum.

Onlookers were encouraged to quiz candidates running in this May's county council elections, grilling them about what they would do for cycling if selected.

The rally came after event host Oxfordshire Cycling Network (OCN) unveiled its £120m vision to craft a 366-mile cycle network across Oxfordshire.

Chairman of the OCN Robin Tucker said: "Our proposal for a county-wide cycling network has had a fantastic response from the public and from local politicians across the political spectrum. So many people and politicians can see the potential for cycling to improve health, the environment and transport across our county.

"We have given them both the opportunity to express their support, both in person at this event, and electronically through Cycling UK’s Vote Bike web page.

"I think this brings back some of the engaging aspects of democracy we are at risk of losing, by linking local elections to something with such great public enthusiasm as cycling."

The event on Saturday was one of 16 lobbies across the UK supporting nationwide campaign Space for Cycling, which aims to create conditions across communities enabling anyone to cycle anywhere.

Candidates from all political parties took turns to leap in front of the crowd before pledging to invest and improve the county's cycling infrastructure.

Members of the 29 cycling and supportive organisations part of the Oxfordshire Cycling Network also promoted their visions for Oxfordshire's strategic cycle network.

It could see routes linking Didcot with Harwell, Milton Park and Culham, an upgrade of the A40 between Oxford and Eynsham, and new cycle tracks in Botley Road, Banbury Road, Woodstock Road and the B4044 between Eynsham and Botley would also get a cycle lane.

Chairman of Cyclox, which backed the vision, Simon Hunt said: "Since launching our vision of an all ages, all abilities cycle network, we have had a huge positive response from Faringdon to Thame and from Witney to Wallingford. Now we are asking our future councillors to support this wide desire and help turn it into reality."

Hundreds of cyclists representing at least 11 groups joined the event, which also marked International Mother Earth Day, including riders from BikeSafe, Faringdon-based Farcycles, CTC Wallingford, Cycling UK Wantage and Oxford-based women's group Isis Cyclists.

Kath Cochrane, of the Windrush Bike Project, which also rallied behind the event, said: "In Oxfordshire, there are 140,000 adults of voting age who cycle, and many more who would if they felt safer.

"That’s an average of at least 2,300 per division, and enough to shift the outcome in almost every seat on the council. We’re helping these people to give their local politicians a strong mandate to create space for safe and practical cycling."