THE chairman of Oxford’s cycling campaign group has welcomed the creation of new racks outside the Westgate Centre.

Twelve new metal racks have been installed near the Art Cafe, opposite the new centre’s Bonn Square entrance and they are in constant use, together with other racks installed after the £440m shopping complex opened.

But Simon Hunt, chairman of Cyclox, said the centre’s 'cycle hub' - a separate, secure bike parking centre - was under-used and urged centre owners Land Securities to make it free.

Mr Hunt said: “You have to pay a £10 registration fee and and a separate annual charge of £20 to park in the hub and as a result hardly any cyclists are using it.

“They should make it free and if they are not going to do that they should hand it over to the staff at the Westgate to encourage them to cycle.”

Mr Hunt said cyclists were promised 1,060 spaces for cyclists would be provided, including 760 public realm spaces, 186 hub spaces and 118 residents’ spaces.

But at the same 88 spaces were lost in Bonn Square while building work took place.

Mr Hunt added: “I’m pleased to see these new racks have been installed outside the Art Cafe and they are being used all the time because they are right where cyclists need them - close to the Westgate Centre and other shops.

“Useful racks have also been installed outside Marks & Spencer and in St Ebbe’s.”

The Cyclox chairman said ‘hardly any’ racks were available when the centre opened on October 24.

He added: “There were hardly any racks ready but of course all the car parking spaces were ready.

“People form habits early on and there was a missed opportunity to encourage more people to cycle.

“They have caught up to a large degree although we still contend there are still not 1,060 spaces available.

“I think the key issue now is the cycle hub which, as far I’m aware, hardly anyone is using.

“Perhaps it’s not surprising the public aren’t using it - if you have a family of four it would cost £120 a year.”

Mr Hunt said cycle hubs in other cities featured cycle repair workshops.

A spokesperson for Westgate Oxford, did not reveal the total number of cycle racks but said: “Our Cycle Hub opened in April this year providing secured, fob-access bicycle parking for visitors to Westgate Oxford.

“In addition, cycle stands are now available near the entrances to Westgate and we are shortly to complete installation elsewhere to provide the required number.”

According to the terms and conditions of the Westgate Centre’s cycle hub it is monitored 24 hours a day by CCTV cameras, and members are issued with an access card.

Members are also told that the centre intends to ‘take part in future initiatives such as cycle training, repairs and the promotion of cycling in Oxford’.

Notices will be displayed on a noticeboard in the cycle hub.

Cycle racks are also available along Speedwell Street around the John Lewis store, Old Greyfriars Street and in Norfolk Street and Castle Street.

There are also racks available at the Oxford Castle site in New Road, a short distance away.