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"One month, two dead cyclists": Oxford's cycling city sign defaced after second death

Last week, campaigners demanded urgent action following the second cyclist death on the city's roads in three weeks...

A sign claiming Oxford is "a cycling city" has been covered with the message "one month, two dead cyclists", as questions continue to be asked following the second death on the city's roads since February.

Local reporter Tom Seaward spotted the sign, welcoming road users on the B480 to the city, had been defaced with red tape covering the "cycling city" line. On the tape a simple message was written: "One month, two dead cyclists."

Oxford sign defaced (Image credit: Tom Seaward/Twitter)

The Oxford Mail journalist noticed the message while undertaking a "pilgrimage" to all the city's 16 sites of cyclist fatalities since 2000.

What has caused concern amongst local riders and campaigners alike, is that two of the casualties have happened in the past month.

> “White lines do not work”: Oxford campaigners call for urgent action after cyclist is killed at notorious junction

Last week, University of Oxford postdoctoral scientist Dr Ling Felce became the second cyclist to be killed on the city's roads in three weeks, following a collision involving an HGV being driven at a notoriously dangerous junction.

A man has since been charged with causing death by dangerous driving whilst unfit through drugs, causing death while driving unlicensed and causing death while driving without insurance, and will appear at a plea and trial preparation hearing at Oxford Crown Court on 28 March.

At 2.30pm today (Tuesday 8 March) a vigil will be held at The Plain in Dr Felce's memory, hosted by local charity Cyclox. Since the collision last Tuesday, flowers, a white bicycle and tributes have been left at the scene.

Dr Felce's husband of eight years told the Oxford Mail he is "lost without her warm presence".

While Cyclox’s chair Dr Alison Hill said: "We all should be calling for a ‘vision zero’ which is about total intolerance of any road user death because it is just awful for any road user to lose their life."

The second cyclist death on Oxford's roads in 2022 came three weeks to the day after another University of Oxford faculty member, Ellen Moilanen, died near Oxford Parkway Station on February 8.

> Campaigners call for “immediate changes” after cyclist was killed in Oxfordshire

The Reuben College academic administrator was killed when she was struck by a lorry driver while cycling on the A4165 near Oxford Parkway station, a busy commuter route between Kidlington and Oxford. She was the fourth woman killed while cycling in the area since 2017.

In response, Cyclox handed a petition to Oxfordshire County Council "calling for change to happen fast" to make the Oxford Road safe.

The charity's chair, Dr Hill, yesterday told Oxfordshire Live she believes one of the main reasons people don’t cycle "is because they are fearful about the state of our roads".

She also called for more segregated cycle lanes to better protect people using bicycles to travel around the city.

"There is this local consultation out called the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan," Dr Hill said. "I know we should be using that opportunity to call for urgent action faster and sooner to make our roads safer.

"That involves a large number of different actions. It involves things like reducing speed and reducing traffic volume, which is utterly crucial because people see the huge number of cars and just feel too intimidated to get on their bikes.

"It involves making safe, segregated cycle routes that are separated from traffic because that is the only way people will feel safe."

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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6 comments

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Sriracha | 1 year ago
3 likes

A man has since been charged with causing death by dangerous driving whilst unfit through drugs, causing death while driving unlicensed and causing death while driving without insurance, and will appear at a plea and trial preparation hearing at Oxford Crown Court on 28 March.

So that'll be three points then. For the lack of documents. And don't do it again, promise?

Avatar
Grahamd | 1 year ago
5 likes

I used to regularly cycle in Oxford and the irony is that whilst the city did have some good sections of segregated cycle lanes, the trouble is they aren't joined together. The lack of cohesion results in cyclists having less safety at the busiest of junctions or fast stretches of road, exactly where they are needed most. 

When I last cycled in Oxford I had an incident with a taxi which left me on the floor with a damaged wheel, but fortunately no broken bones. The police inaction spoke volumes, no Oxford is not a cycling city, much is the shame.

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wtjs replied to Grahamd | 1 year ago
5 likes

The police inaction spoke volumes, no Oxford is not a cycling city, much is the shame

Lancaster claims to be a 'cycling city' as well- that must be a source of intense annoyance to Lancashire Constabulary which is proud of doing nothing whatsoever to encourage cycling anywhere in Lancashire

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Simon_MacMichael replied to Grahamd | 1 year ago
4 likes

Grahamd wrote:

I used to regularly cycle in Oxford and the irony is that whilst the city did have some good sections of segregated cycle lanes, the trouble is they aren't joined together. 

Yup, I lived in Oxford 2006-08 and commuted every day (Wolvercote to St Clements) through the city, and regularly came in by bike once I'd moved further out. 

You'll know that for the vast majority of people cycling into the city centre, the topography means that their journeys will take them either under the railway bridge over Botley Road, through the top of St Giles where Woodstock and Banbury roads meet, or through the Plain (where I once got hit by the wing mirror of a TVP patrol car, cheers) - all known conflict points, as are Frideswide Square (don't start me on the 'improvements' there) and the junction close to Gloucester Green, among others

The fact people on bikes are regularly still being killed or seriously injured despite safety "improvements" at eg The Plain, and despite campaigning by Cyclox that goes back well before I was living their 15-odd years ago, is shocking ... and while I'm not as up to date with the political ins and outs as I was when I lived there, it did use to strike me that a major barrier to making roads safer there (and elsewhere in the UK, it has to be said) was having a city government that wanted to see change and a county council, which acted as the highways authority, that resisted it.

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chrisonabike | 1 year ago
9 likes

Another vicious circle.  Cycling is still mostly not considered part of "transport"*. In political / planning / social consciousness if considered at all it's most likely to feature under "leisure and recreation" or "kids' activities". This means that amongst other things neglected the response to crashes is on an "accident" / "one off" / search for culpability.  This most often doesn't lead to changes - because it's all down to the driver.  Or at most we make it less convenient for the potential victims - to keep them safe.  So people sensibly don't cycle.

We should certainly see if someone was culpable.  However when this keeps happening over and over it is not an adequate response to be surprised each time or simply sadly say "bad driver".  We are well aware that humans have problems safely operating vehicles.  It's not news that both the rules and the designs of our streets and vehicles can and do play an important part in how likely crashes are and the consequences.  We should be considering this bigger picture.  Like in air accident / rail accident / marine accident investigations.

(Actually what we need is not "encouragement of cycling", not even "vision zero".  We need a comprehensive approach to travel safety which understands human nature, prioritises safety for the most vulnerable and also makes it convenient and attractive not to drive.  We'll need this because the levels of everyday cycling in the UK - except in a few limited circumstances - are trifling and where people can drive, they drive).

* I think this comes somewhere below access on foot in most designs.  Generally this and disabled access seems to follow the inverse of the hierarchy of EDIT vulnerability e.g. considered last, way below motor vehicles / their infrastructure / buildings etc.

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Flintshire Boy replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
4 likes

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Nail on head - great post. Thanks.

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