By Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council cycling champion

THE outpouring of grief and anger at recent tragic deaths of cyclists on our roads has quickly and rightly evolved to calls for action.

The challenge for those of us in the decision-making bodies is to turn that into results. We haven’t done well enough so far, but now is the moment.

The background: road traffic has increased enormously in recent decades. The size of our medieval streets has not.

Current trends are unsustainable. Cycle lanes are patchy and inconsistent: many describe journeys with stretches of excellent provision interrupted by barriers, dangers and delays, or where a bike lane simply stops.

Read again: Hundreds attend vigil for cyclist who died at The Plain

The solution involves changes to how and when we use motor vehicles.

The county council has set out initial proposals, including the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan, and the Central Oxfordshire Transport Strategy.

We need you to help us get them right. Please engage with them, and please be assured that the Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance-led county will deliver on its promise to create ‘an inclusive, integrated, county-wide active and sustainable travel network fit for the 21st century to improve choice and reduce car journeys across the county’.

Initially, there is an urgent need for rapid safety improvements near the locations of the recent fatalities.

Ideas are in circulation, and these are very welcome. The details are for professional engineers and designers (and budgets), but please tell us what you want to see.

The next stage is to recognise that there is an issue with junctions. We will review existing infrastructure and policy to identify and fix potential problems. Again, please tell us your experiences.

Oxford Mail: A vigil was held at The Plain roundabout in Oxford. Picture: Ed NixA vigil was held at The Plain roundabout in Oxford. Picture: Ed Nix

In the longer term, policy needs to embed a better approach. ‘Vision Zero’ is a concept which refuses to accept that any fatalities are acceptable, and seeks to design them out from the beginning.

It has been successfully implemented in Oslo and elsewhere: we need it here. A key principle is physically separating cyclists from motor vehicles.

Our relationship with economic growth and development needs to change too. The scale of growth coming to our county provides both the need and the opportunity to design healthy, safe places for people to live.

In practice, this means joined-up thinking between new sites and existing areas, between planning policy and highways departments, between different authorities and different sites.

It means developer contributions being used to deliver ways for people to get in and out of new homes other than by car.

It means harnessing the gains from developments near our market towns to reclaim historic town centres and market squares from through traffic and car parking.

Oxford Mail: A vigil was held at The Plain roundabout in Oxford. Picture: Ed NixA vigil was held at The Plain roundabout in Oxford. Picture: Ed Nix

A bold vision is not out of reach. Look at Silver Street and Hills Road in Cambridge. Look at Park Lane in London. Look at Paris, Amsterdam and Ghent.

And keep your eyes on the prize: I speak to many parents who would love to let their children cycle to school if they felt it was safer – I made the same calculations myself.

So let’s make it safer. Let’s give our young people the wonderful freedom that living in a real cycling city brings: the freedom to visit friends when they want, go to sport and other activities without relying on mum and dad for a lift, or to just hang out in the park.

Cycling lets them grow into their community, and explore and enjoy its opportunities. And it’s free, quick, convenient, reliable, and good for you.

Oxford Mail: A vigil was held at The Plain roundabout in Oxford. Picture: Ed NixA vigil was held at The Plain roundabout in Oxford. Picture: Ed Nix

Let’s embed culture change in our driving habits, too. Parking on a crossing, blind corner or bike lane while you nip to the cashpoint should be as socially unacceptable as smoking in public or drink-driving.

And if you really need to drive to work, why not leave a bit earlier, walk the kids to school first, then go back and get the car? It’s better for them, and it’s better for you.

I am working hard with my cycling champion colleagues in city and districts, stakeholders and decision makers to get this right. We need to.

There has been too much talk, too many reports, too much delay, too much division, too much failure, and too many deaths. We must do better. We will do better.

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