ALTHOUGH lots of cycling organisations will extol the possibilities, albeit with caution, of continuing to cycle in the snow, for me ice days and snow days are not bike days.

When the household reverberates with the excitement of children learning they have a day off school my bike stays in the shed. I am happier taking my chances on the local sledging hills than taking my bike for a spin.

Quite simply, I am far too scared to cycle on icy and slippery roads. The few times I have fallen off have been extremely painful and the fear of that happening in a traffic situation makes me even more wary. When we are scared, we are tense and find balancing harder – the bike is suddenly no longer your friend, and cycling no longer pleasant and relaxing. So, the bike stays at home, and because there is no public transport where I live, when the roads are slippery I spend more time in the car.

Today I watched a short film made in Oxford by the Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon group, this film launched a petition which collected nearly 2,000 signatures last year calling for protected and segregated cycle lanes from Rose Hill and Iffley into the city centre. They interviewed people who cycled and those that didn’t.

What struck me was the experience of those who didn’t cycle reflected my feelings about cycling when it is icy. These are people who would like to use bikes for transport but don’t because their experience means that they are too scared.

One interviewee had cycled in the past but felt too unsteady as she become older, another had been knocked off her bike on a roundabout and subsequently found it too stressful. These people are forced to take other forms of transport which, apart from walking, are either more expensive, contribute more to air pollution and congestion, and have none of the health benefits of cycling.

Like me in the ice, they have been forced off their bikes through fear. The films interviewees also identify badly placed cycle lanes, inadequate markings, excessive traffic speed as elements of cycling in Oxford that put them off.

This group of people, who would like to use bikes as transport but don’t, are being failed by our leaders and their policies. People shouldn’t have to feel they are taking their life in their hands when they get on a bike, and cycling shouldn’t be something that diminishes as we get older. We should have the right to travel without fear, and given this form of transport is most beneficial to wider society, the physical infrastructure should be put in place for this to happen.

Oxfordshire County Council have a long way to go to achieve Queen’s 1978 cycling manifesto: ‘I want to ride my bicycle I want to ride my bike, I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like’.