JUST imagine: you leave your house to cycle into Oxford, and are quickly channelled to a fully-protected cycle superhighway. It’s amazing – wide and well-paved, there’s not a pothole in sight.

As you glide into town past the ‘Welcome to Oxford – Europe’s cycling city’ sign, you admire the design, a continuous, protected bike lane with careful routing behind bus stops and priority over side streets and at roundabouts.

And when you arrive to the safety, calmness and clean air of the motor-free city centre, there are ample options to park your bike right next to your destination, trailer and all.

It’s not impossible: all it will take is some political will… and panniers of cash!

And there’s the rub – with austerity in full swing, our roads in ‘managed decline’ and children’s centres closing, where is the extra money going to come from to transform Oxford into a cycling city?

Well, a good start would be the county council, as highways authority, committing to spending a percentage – how about 20 per cent? – of its £57m annual transport budget on cycling infrastructure.

And the council also runs public health, which should surely be investing in cycling, which a former chief medical officer called “a miracle cure”. Remember, a 2016 Highways England report said that Danish levels of cycling in the UK would save the NHS £17bn over 20 years.

Government could help too: the Department of Transport could put far more emphasis on active travel, beyond the limited budget and vision of the likes of the Cycle City Ambition and Local Sustainable Transport funds. And does Oxford get any of the £12m a year available to local bodies in England for Bikeability cycle training? Or the £100m of ring-fenced funding for cycling schemes from Highways England?

In fact, does anyone even know how much is actually spend per person on cycling in Oxford? The Government claims it’s presently over £10 per person per year following Cycle City Ambition Fund investment. However, such figures tend to conflate both local and national spending, and do not indicate long-term funding commitments. Compare the Dutch city of Groningen, which will spend £77 per head on cycling in each of the next five years.

Yet there is hope!

Robin Tucker, who chairs Oxfordshire Cycle Network, agrees that there is virtually no independent capital now, but he hopes that funding could materialise from a combination of national bids, developer funding, and smart use of the maintenance budget.

And he should know: Robin is also on the transport committee of the Local Enterprise Partnership.

He will speak at a free, open meeting organised by Cyclox on Tuesday, March 31, at 7.30pm at St Michael’s at the Northgate to tell us more. It should be a fascinating insight into the ‘wheels within wheels’ of political decision-making. Hopefully he will offer hope that there really is money if we know where to look for it.