THE notion that Oxford is a ‘cycling city’ has always seemed a perplexing one to the city’s cyclists.

This has been brought home tenfold in recent weeks following the tragic deaths of Ellen Moilanen near Oxford Parkway Station, and Ling Felce at The Plain roundabout.

Both young women – University of Oxford staff members – lost their lives far too soon, in distressing and potentially unavoidable circumstances.

Read again: Colleagues pay tribute to cyclists who died in crashes

Their deaths follow a pattern in the city and wider area, revealed in an eye-opening manner by fellow Oxford Mail reporter Tom Seaward this weekend.

His thread on Twitter highlighting the scenes where countless cyclists have died over the last 20 years or so, shows very little seems to have improved.

That is why today, the Oxford Mail is calling for change.

Whether that be targeted improvements to cycling infrastructure, better education for both drivers and cyclists, or a look at the measures taken in countries like Denmark and The Netherlands.

Ideally of course, a mixture of the above would lead to cyclists not just feeling safer, but in fact not risking their lives when going out on their bike.

We of course appreciate it’s not as straightforward as waving a magic wand, which is why now is the time to boost a conversation.

It’s one that has rumbled on for years – but it’s one that needs to be shouted about from the tips of the dreaming spires, not whispered in the alleyways of the city’s historic cobbled roads.

The likes of Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council, Thames Valley Police, the various cycling campaign groups in the city, motorists and cyclists need to join together and become one united force and voice.

One look at the work of the London Cycling Campaign gives a flavour of what’s possible.

The charity campaigns to improve lethal junctions, and tackle poorly designed vehicles and inconsiderate driving, while offering members a variety of services.

Read more: We asked people in Oxford what needs to be done to make cycling safer in the city

For too long the narrative has incredulously been ‘cyclists don’t know the Highway Code’, road rage videos online of drivers and cyclists at war, and playing the blame game.

It’s no longer a laughing matter, this is people’s lives we are talking about.

That is not to say accidents don’t happen – of course they do – but if we can drastically cut back these cruel deaths, then surely that should be encouraged?

Just because Oxford seems to have more cyclists than the average UK town or city, does that make it a ‘cycling city’?

When disasters like the deaths we have seen in recent weeks are happening with such a regular occurrence, then no, there is little argument to suggest we live in a cycling city.

It’s time for change – although sadly, it’s been time for far too long already.

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