Catherine Hickman of Bicester Bike Users Group looks at what needs to be done to overcome barriers to cycling as the Women’s Tour of Britain is in the town on October 4

‘Cycling is freedom’ said one Bicester resident visiting our Friday Market stall in July.

And so it should be, but how freely can people cycle around Bicester and what could be done to make it easier?

People who aren’t finding it so easy stopped by to chat and asked for ‘easier and safer access to the town centre by bike’, ‘more dedicated cycle parking at shops’ and ‘easier ways to cross where cycle paths meet road junctions’.

For them there is currently no cycle infrastructure to access the town centre via the London Road crossing, there is no cycle parking at many of the local centres like Bowmont Square, and people using the cycle route along Lord’s Lane have to give way to four junctions within 700 metres.

Even the relatively easy task of maintaining the existing bike paths and keeping them clear has been neglected, the route along the A41 to Ambrosden being an example of particularly poor maintenance of surrounding vegetation.

Bicester Bike Users’ Group has heard the call and is working to overcome these and many other barriers to cycling in the town and surrounding areas, representing people who want to use bikes as well as those who already do.

By getting concerns heard and acted upon, fostering good relations between people cycling, walking and driving, and improving the safety, accessibility and convenience of the Bicester cycle network, we are working to encourage as many residents as possible to grab life by the handlebars and enjoy all the benefits that cycling locally can bring.

Oxford Mail:

The Women’s Tour of Britain starting from Bicester on October 4 is an opportunity to be inspired.

The tour will take in the route planned for 2020 before it was cancelled.

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Stage two takes in a loop around the town of Walsall before stage three and the first-ever time trial at the race, taking place around Atherstone in Warwickshire.

The international women’s peloton is speeding its way across part of the UK in October for the sixth edition of the Women’s Tour, which includes an individual time trial for the very first time in the race’s history.

Since 2018, the prize fund has been equal to that of the men’s Tour of Britain, increasing from €35,000 (£31,000) to €90,000 (£80,000). The race was awarded UCI Women’s WorldTour status in 2016, meaning that it is part of the top-level series of international races.

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Although many people cycling around the town of Bicester would not consider themselves in the same league as these cyclists, the common theme is enjoying the ride. Whether heading out for a long ride or visiting the local shops by bike, the same challenges and benefits prevail. On the subject of sport, did you know Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel hop on their bikes for short A to B journeys within the race circuit and Arjen Robben rides to training by bike?

Oxford Mail:

Sometimes bikes are just the best tool for the job.

During the Oxfordshire wide Celebration of Cycling throughout September, in the run up to the Women’s Tour starting in Bicester on October 4, look out for our screening of Motherload on September 10 at Cole’s Books (a documentary about transporting children on bikes), family friendly bike rides around Bicester, and our Friday Market stall. Keep an eye on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or website