Many of us are enjoying rides into the countryside and one of the pleasures is seeing other people on their bikes, especially family groups, writes Andy Chivers. For those in the city, getting out to the countryside presents some interesting choices, and sometimes the routes need a haircut even more than the rest of us.

The Botley Rd is about to get an improved cycle route and there are plans for Woodstock and Banbury Roads. Abingdon Road has quite a nice parallel alternative down Marlborough Road, but going east is just unpleasant whichever road you choose. Marsh Lane in Marston takes you to the busy junction with the ring road on the way to Elsfield and some of the best views in Oxfordshire, looking over Otmoor, though like all views, there is a hill to climb for it.

Going up the steep and busy London Road is no fun, so remember Jack Straw Lane, or Pullen’s Lane as alternatives. Cowley and Iffley Roads are worth avoiding and Cricket Road during holiday time is a reasonable alternative. Unfortunately, when you cross the ring road you are on unpleasantly busy roads before you get into the quiet countryside. There is a good cycle track on one side of the Horspath Road that gets you all the way to the village – one of the best quality outside the ring road.

The really unpleasant rides start outside the ring road – crossing Pear Tree roundabout to get to Woodstock is grim, and the bumpy, muddy narrow path along the A40 is made worse by the overgrown verges and lack of any maintenance to clear overhanging branches and discarded bits of lorry tyre.

Contrast those with the wonderful resurfacing of the Sustrans route from Isis lock to Sandford Lane, which means you can get from Folly Bridge to south of Kennington in riverside heaven, with flowers in profusion on either side of the path.

Going west, start at Folly Bridge on the river to Osney Mead where it joins Willow Walk to reach North Hinksey and then you can get up the cycle track under the bridge to the Wytham Road, or go up Cumnor Hill to the delights of Appleton and the Vale of White Horse. It’s nice to have a treat to aim for so it’s good that pubs, coffee shops and tea rooms have organised themselves to provide outdoor refreshments.

The challenge is that a route is only as good as its weakest link. Lobby your councillor about the local roads that make your journeys unnerving; we all have one. With the county council having recently submitted its bid for nearly £3m of Government funding to improve cycling and walking without involving any local stakeholder groups, now, more than ever, we need to be increasingly vocal about what would help us ride bikes.