Alison Boulton digs beneath the city's dreaming spires

Dusting off my cycle for the warm Spring weather is an annual ritual.

With the sun and the bees, it’s a buzz. Even if you lack Bradley Wiggins’ sideburns, or Chris Hoy’s legs, it can be for you. Yet cycling into Oxford city centre from any direction is a calculated risk. Lorries, buses, cars and vans all contribute to the danger cyclists are vulnerable to on the road – as do reckless cyclists themselves. Being cut up in the bike lane is not uncommon, and just as destabilising as a near shave from a juggernaut.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents cites over 19,000 cyclists killed or injured in reported road accidents annually in the UK. Four out of five casualties are male. 80 per cent of accidents occur during daylight hours, more in spring and summer months (May to September).

Yet recent figures published by the Office of National Statistics show a 33 per cent increase in Oxford residents taking their bikes to work between 2001 and 2011. This suggests that more than 11,000 people now choose pedal power over cars and buses. Only Cambridge has more cyclists.

It’s an activity already encouraged to some extent by both the council and Oxford University. Many schools run cycling proficiency programmes for their pupils, to increase young cyclists’ traffic awareness.

Even more could – and should – be done. Cycling has so many advantages to the city for its residents and visitors. It is clean, quiet and non-polluting, and efficient. For the same amount of energy expended, you can move about three times as fast on a bicycle than on foot.

It’s cheaper than getting in the car, or taking the bus. A recent survey by suggested that at £3,453 per annum, Britain was one of the most expensive places on earth to run a car. They calculated that for an average annual mileage of 12,500 miles, fuel costs alone were £2,256. By contrast, bicycles can be bought second-hand relatively cheaply. The necessary lock, helmet, lights and basket can cost almost as much – but then you’re set up, apart from the occasional oiling of the chain, and renewal of brake cables.

Spending time in the open air can be exhilarating. Sunlight boosts the feel-good hormone serotonin. For insomniacs, exercising outside promotes sleep, recalibrating natural circadian rhythms and reducing the stress hormone cortisol, which can prevent deep, regenerative sleep.

Improved fitness reduces the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Even cancer risk may be reduced by aerobic exercise.

Imagine if Oxford could become one of the UK’s great cycling and walking cities, with one-way systems on Woodstock and Banbury Roads, and Iffley and Cowley Roads, incorporating even safer, wider cycles lanes. Cyclists know what they need to do. Now’s the time to lobby your MP. Safe cycling around the city: that’s a subject for local elections.