A CYCLE and walking path running between Kennington and Oxford has had a makeover just as people are being encouraged to commute without their cars.

A series of major improvement works have been completed on the car-free path at Kennington, which its builders have claimed give ‘people an alternative to joining the traffic on the usually busy A34’.

More than £250,000 of funding from Highways England and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development has been spent widening and resurfacing the path by cycling and walking charity Sustrans.

The charity has also removed barriers and cattle grids along the route, which is part of Route 5 of the National Cycle Network.

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The upgrade has been welcomed by local residents, and one even left an anonymous note on the path to give thanks for the work.

James Cleeton, Sustrans Director, England South said: “We’re really pleased about the reception these improvements have received.

“At this time of lockdown and physical distancing, walking and cycling provide vital transport options to key workers and others for their essential journeys. This route enables people to make those journeys, or get out for their one piece of exercise each day, while observing physical distancing guidelines.”

Oxford Mail:

The new path is three metres wide

As the lockdown eases, cycle paths like the newly upgraded one between Oxford and Kennington are being hailed as a solution to the problems of maintaining social distancing measures.

In May, the government transport secretary Grant Shapps announced a raft of measures to encourage people to cycle and walk more.

By doing this, they would avoid the enclosed spaces of public transport where they could still catch coronavirus, and avoid using cars and see a spike in air pollution.

As the path has been completed, Oxfordshire County Council is starting to take measures to make cycling and walking safer, with government grant funding.

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The cycle path between Oxford and Kennington was built 20 years ago.

It runs close to the mainline railway through Kennington, before joining the Thames Path into Oxford, where improvement works have been completed by Oxfordshire County Council.

Oxford Preservation Trust owns the land that the path crosses.

The trust’s director, Debbie Dance, said she had been ‘delighted’ to work with Sustrans on the new path.

Oxford Mail:

Debbie Dance. Picture: Ed Nix

She said: “The improvements support our climate change vision and further develop accessibility to our valuable green spaces. Our commitment is to conserve Oxford’s green setting sharing its beautiful flora and fauna with all encouraging positive health and well-being. Comments from local residents and cyclists from further afield highlight how these improvements have had a positive impact.”

Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for environment said: “This work will make a positive contribution to our efforts to improve cycle routes as well as helping to develop active, connected communities.”