A COUNCIL has admitted it 'let itself down' after wording of a survey led to outrage from cyclists.

Oxford’s Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel, which represents 10 organisations including Cyclox and Oxford Pedestrians' Association, raised a formal complaint about the Oxford City Council questionnaire.

The authority's Public Attitude Survey, which closes on Sunday, asked respondents if they had any opinions on 'cyclists riding irresponsibly' in the city centre.

This was the only transport-related problem specified in the survey, and the group said the council had neglected issues with dangerous driving, air and sound pollution, illegal parking and a host of other potential hazards.

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A letter of complaint, published on Cyclox's website, said: "We are concerned about the attitudes it will develop and reinforce among respondents by encouraging them to think about negative behaviours of cyclists in an imbalanced way.

"This is a retrograde step from a council that we generally consider to be supportive of cycling."

Cyclists also took to Twitter to express concerns.

One woman wrote: "I know someone who was killed while cycling in Oxford. This survey is offensive."

County councillor Damian Haywood, a keen cyclist, added: "Shocking bias from [Oxford City Council]."

Cyclox wrote on Facebook: "The survey is terrible.

"There is a misunderstanding of environmental harm and of safety. Environment questions ignore actual harm versus visual ugliness.

"There is no mention of air pollution, traffic congestion and noise.

"The safety survey ignores getting about safely amongst heavy traffic - it's not safe for children and old people in many places."

The online survey, which launched in November, is seeking feedback about what people think are acceptable and unacceptable behaviours in Oxford city centre.

Previously, unacceptable behaviours were banned by a Public Spaces Protection Order.

The PSPO proved to be unpopular, with concerns that it had 'criminalised' rough sleeping.

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One of the behaviours the PSPO had outlined as 'unacceptable' was breaching the ban on cycling through Cornmarket and Queen Street, between 10am and 6pm.

An Oxford City Council spokesman explained: "We let ourselves down with the presentation of the question, but the intention was to find out whether or not people still think cycling through pedestrian areas is an unacceptable behaviour that should be restricted.

"We have provided a free text space for people to make suggestions of other antisocial behaviours that could be restricted in the city centre."

He said the council was 'wholly committed' to increasing cycling in Oxford, adding: "We’re already in discussions with the county council about the possibility of lifting the existing restriction on cycling on Queen Street; and the enhancement of cycle routes forms a key element in our Connecting Oxford proposals that aim to reduce traffic coming into the city.

"We are also already tackling air pollution through the Zero Emission Zone proposals."

To respond to the survey, visit oxford.gov.uk/publicattitudesurvey.