Cycling campaigners in Oxfordshire have unveiled their vision for a 366-mile network of cycle routes that would provide safe and direct links for people on bikes travelling between towns, workplaces and transport hubs across the county.
The Oxfordshire Cycling Network says that it would take between 15 and 20 years to build the network, and estimates the cost at £120 million.
It envisages that cycle paths would be at least three metres in width and built to Dutch or German standards, separated from the main carriageway by a grass verge in the countryside, and with physical separation from motor vehicles in urban areas.
But it adds that by increasing levels of cycling in the county from the current 3 per cent to 10 per cent, there would be a £112 million annual benefit due to reduced healthcare costs and time saved travelling because of reduced congestion.
Robin Tucker, chair of Oxfordshire Cycling Network and a member of member of Oxfordshire County Council’s Active Travel Steering Group and the Local Enterprise Partnership, said the aim is to provide routes people feel safe riding on, irrespective of age or ability.
He explained: “Our vision is that people of all abilities can choose to cycle anywhere, feeling safe and comfortable.
“Instead of stop-starting in traffic jams, fretting about where to park, I can bike the five miles from home to Abingdon more quickly and more predictably. Plus, I will have done my exercise for the day.”
Regarding the estimated cost, which equates to a spend of roughly £10 per person per year, he said: “It’s three pence a day each, which doesn’t sound much, but it would transform transport and health in Oxfordshire.”
“Our financial model shows a seven-fold return on investment over 20 years, which is two or three times better than most road investments.”
Simon Hunt, chair of Cyclox, the local cycling campaign for the city of Oxford, said: “All ages, all abilities. These are the four As of best-practice standards for cycling. The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark – and even Cambridge – have shown that this works. Now let’s bring similar 4A benefits to Oxfordshire.”
Oxfordshire Cycling Network will be lobbying candidates ahead of May’s local council elections to support the proposals as well as back Cycling UK’s Space for Cycling campaign, and on 22 April, campaigners will meet outside County Hall in Oxford to press their case.
Ian Leggett, chair of Bike Safe, said: “26% of adults in Oxfordshire cycle, so that’s 140,000 potential voters, and many more” – almost half a million people, according to Oxfordshire Cycling Network – “who would love to cycle if they had a good safe option.”
Oxfordshire Cycling Network, which brings together almost 30 organisations that campaign for better walking and cycling facilities, has drawn up this map of a proposed network that it says “is a starting point for discussions with the County Council and the public about its shape, its benefits and its costs.”
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.