By Alison Hill

CYCLOX has written to congratulate Oxford’s two new MPs on their election last week and will hope to meet them soon to share our aspirations for our beautiful city.

Increasing the journeys taken by cycle or foot is good for health, reduces congestion and air pollution, and creates a more liveable and vibrant city. It’s also very affordable. But for many people, concern about safety is the major barrier to getting on their bike.

Cyclox, the voice of cycling in Greater Oxford, campaigns for more people of all ages and abilities, to be enabled to cycle more safely and more often. People who currently perceive the roads as unsafe need to be given confidence to ride their bikes, and to encourage their children to cycle.

We want cycling to be the first choice for everyday journeys within the city, where people feel safe on protected routes going as directly as possible to their destination. All our primary school children in Oxford need Bikeability training to level three to give them on-road skills, and there should be better opportunities for adult training and ‘buddying’ with experienced riders.

How can our new MPs help us achieve these aims?

Nationally, they must support policies that increase cycling. This year there have been two major reports. One is the last Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, much of which Cyclox broadly welcomes. If enacted by Parliament, it would require our councils to develop local Cycling and Walking Investment Policies, to specified standards with quality control. The proposed level of funding for cycling is, however, wholly inadequate. Benchmarking shows that successful cycling cities need at the very least £10 per head per year, continuously year in, year out. Our MPs must actively press the new Transport Secretary to spend more on the budget dedicated to cycling. Cost-benefit analysis proves that building cycling infrastructure and associated ‘soft measures’ are very worthwhile investments.

The other is the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s report on Cycling and the Justice System. Their recommendations include revising the Highway Code to give more priority to cyclists, improving the driving test, and for police forces to improve their close-passing enforcement practice. We will ask them to press ministers to implement these recommendations.

Locally our MPs should put pressure on our council planners to prioritise cycling. The Oxford Transport Strategy requires a shift to cycling, walking and public transport. But sadly, recent road developments continue to duck the sometimes radical changes needed to create protected routes.

The forthcoming Oxford Local Plan revision must ensure the city ups its game, and the MPs must argue for developments actively to encourage cycling. Additionally they must interrogate the county council on why they are not training our children to Bikeability national standards.

Oxford should be the greatest cycling city in the UK. Our MPs’ influence will be essential to make it so.