IN ORDER to get more people cycling and walking once lockdown eases, the Government created an Emergency Active Travel fund that councils with responsibilities for highways could bid for. The invitation to bid set out a very clear requirement that any project should ‘promote cycling as a replacement for journeys previously made by public transport’.

We wrote in our last On Yer Bike column we were still waiting to hear whether Oxfordshire County Council was successful in its bid.

Well – now we know the outcome. The council could have won £600,000 but only got 50% of the bid, to the huge disappointment of so many of us. They included cycle parking, line painting, and clearing and maintaining cycle paths which clearly didn’t cut the mustard. We have lost precious money that could have gone to cycling and walking.

But that was the first tranche of money and there is another tranche worth £2.3 million, so there is still all to play for. Oxfordshire has been allocated proportionately more than other authorities because it has a high rate of public transport. More people use public transport in Oxford than elsewhere in the county more, which should be reflected in the allocation that Oxford receives.

We and other active travel groups were not consulted in the run up to submission of the county’s bid but we very much hope that for this next round of funding we will be invited to offer suggestions. The expectation is that the plans should be even more bold and ambitious than the first round and should result in an increase in walking and cycling.

This is what we will be suggesting to the county council as it prepares a bigger, bolder and more ambitious bid for the second tranche of money:

l Implement traffic control points (bus gates) immediately in Worcester Street, St Cross Road, and Thames St to prevent motorised traffic traversing the city

l Create safe, segregated, permanent cycle routes on all arterial roads, but not on pavements

l Widen pavements to 1.5 metres minimum and 2 metres where possible, and even wider at bus stops.

l Install high-quality cycle parking at Park and Ride sites in the city and district centres

l Remove car parking from Broad St to create a public square with plenty of space for outdoor seating and cafes

l Reduce the width of the road on St Giles to free up space for walkers and cyclists

l Remove parking bays in the city centre to reduce car traffic and give more space to people cycling and walking.

Bus gates are our top priority, so we were pleased to see the announcement on Friday last week that the city and county council are proposing to put in two temporary bus gates paid for by the city council. There will be considerable and organised opposition to this proposal, but we know there will be many in support. Please hold your nerve Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council.