WOULD-BE cyclists scared to get on the saddle because of Oxford’s ‘unsafe’ roads joined experienced riders in calling for joined-up network of continuous cycle lanes across the city.

Close to 100 cyclists and supporters gathered outside County Hall yesterday as a 1,771-signature petition was handed to Oxfordshire County Council.

They praised the council’s transport plan and proposals to improve arterial roads such as Botley Road, which was recently given £3.2m by the Government, but called for much more funding.

Petition organiser, Eleanor Watts, chairwoman of Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon, said: “We want Oxford to reach the levels of the Netherlands where in some cities two thirds of trips are taken by bicycle.

“We have had so many people sign; older people afraid of cycling on main roads, parents afraid of letting their children cycle, pedestrians afraid of cyclists using the pavement, who are in turn afraid of cycling on the roads.

“Cyclists are playing chicken with cars when using the faded pothole-ridden cycle lanes, which often just stop.”

She added: “I want to cycle, I think it’s our civic duty, but I don’t, I’m scared - we need major investment.”

Campaign group Cyclox supported the petition and council leader Ian Hudspeth also backed calls for greater cycling provision when he met cyclists yesterday.

Cyclox chairman Simon Hunt said: “There’s three stages, planning, investment, building and Oxfordshire has got a lot better at planning in recent years.

“The arterial roads, including Botley Road, feature in the Local Transport Plan and of course Access to Headington will make things better for cyclists - we now need more funding."

County councillor for Iffley Fields, Helen Evans, a regular cyclist, said: “I live off Iffley Road and my son goes to nursery in Rose Hill but it’s really difficult to cycle there.

“There’s people coming out of parked cars, there’s bus stops blocking the cycle lanes and all the others vehicles.

“Particularly with children, it’s not something you want to do.”