Cyclists in Oxford have raised safety concerns about a diversion that directs riders to a notoriously dangerous roundabout while a cycle path in the city is closed for 10 weeks for repairs.
The cycle route between Marston and Oxford city centre will be closed for an estimated 10 weeks from 14 August, Oxfordshire County Council saying it is "carrying out essential refurbishment work" to two bridges.
However, the diversion sends riders to their destination via the Plain roundabout, a junction where last March a University of Oxford researcher, Dr Ling Felce, was killed when she was run over by an unlicensed, uninsured and drugged lorry driver who was jailed in September for eight years.
The council and campaigners welcomed subsequent safety improvements to the roundabout, however questions about the diversion's routing remain with a local cycling campaign group calling for the alternative route to instead pass through University Parks, something that has not yet been agreed between the relevant authorities.
"This is a vital cycle route for people cycling in from the east and north east of Oxford, providing a safe way into town avoiding the Plain roundabout," Dr Allison Hill, the chair of Cyclox, told the Oxford Mail.
"We weren't alerted to this closure and are very concerned about the implications for people cycling as the county council acknowledges that the route via the Plain is not safe, and the route via Marston Ferry Road adds nearly three miles.
"It is important the bridges are upgraded and made safe, but we are saddened that an alternative route through the University Parks has not been agreed. Pushing bikes over the rainbow bridge and then south along the Cherwell to the Marston Meadow path seems a simple time-limited ask, that saves time and reduces the risk."
The University of Oxford has since said it is working with Oxfordshire County Council on a solution, but Oxford City Council's Mary Clarkson has also criticised the lack of route through the University Parks, saying it has left her "very disappointed", especially with the new school year looming.
"I'm very disappointed that, after six weeks of discussions with the university, county council and local residents we have been unable to find a safe alternative route across Marston Meadows," she said.
"This is a very busy and well used route into Oxford, linking the hospitals and Oxford Brookes with the city centre and the University. It is also an important route for school children.
"At the beginning of the new school year there is a danger that pupils who might otherwise cycle will be driven to school as the alternatives are seen as too long or too dangerous."
Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Highway Management, Andrew Gant, announced the works saying it was the "last thing" the council wanted to do, "but we have no choice in this case".
"Full refurbishment of the bridge is required to avoid the risk of emergency closures in the future and to safeguard the use of the cycle path for many years to come," he explained.
"We appreciate how inconvenient this will be for users so both bridges will be refurbished at the same time to reduce the length of the closure, and we will reopen the cycle path as soon as possible if the work is completed sooner than anticipated."
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.