Cyclists and pedestrians living in a village close to Oxford are determined to press ahead with their campaign to have a shared-use path installed along a busy road after a study they commissioned from Sustrans concluded it would make conditions safer for those on bike and on foot. The report by the sustainable transport charity says the project could be executed at a cost of £800,000, but Oxfordshire County Council have said they have no cash to fund it.
Farmoor village lies only three and a half miles from the centre of Oxford as the crow flies, but is separated from it by the University of Oxford-owned Wytham Woods, a Site of Special Scientific Interest to which access is tightly controlled, meaning that anyone wanting to ride into the city by bike has to travel along the B4044 road, which runs between Eynsham and Dean Court in the west of the city. The lack of a footway running along the road, meanwhile, deters pedestrians from venturing out to local shops.
Last year, the group Bike Safe, which secured £6,250 to help fund its campaign following a public vote in the NatWest Community Force competition, produced a video which starkly demonstrates why its members feel a shared-use path is required.
Speaking about the Sustrans report last week, group spokesman Ian Leggett told the Oxford Mail: “We looked at different options but the only real option for a variety of reasons was to create a dedicated off-road route. “Anything else would be too dangerous because the road is simply too narrow.
“But hopefully this would be supported by motorists as it will ease traffic and cyclists could cycle without having a bus six inches off their back wheel.”
Original estimates suggested that putting an off-road path in place would cost between £1 million and £2 million, but the Sustrans report says that the project could be completed in two stages spanning two years at a cost of £400,000 for each phase – the first from Eynham to Farmoor, the second from Farmoor to Oxford.
However Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Martin Crabtree insisted that there was nothing in the budget to pay for such works, saying: “A lot of work has gone into pursuing ideas and we know there is enthusiasm for them locally. However there is very little funding so there is no possibility of the county council fully or even part-funding this scheme in the foreseeable future.”
Mr Leggett, however, maintained that the proposed scheme, details of which were presented to villagers in Farmoor last week, would be cost-effective in the long run.
“This would be an investment which would pay for itself in seven or eight years,” he explained. “This would make an incredible difference. If you live in Farmoor, you cannot walk anywhere because there are no pavements.
“You can’t walk even to the shops and you are isolated. It is a crazy situation.
“We continue to need community support. The major thing we face is the council says it a good scheme but is not committed to delivering it.
“This will never happen without the community,” he concluded.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.