City and County Councils to press government for more investment in cycling infrastructure

Published: Tuesday, 12th March 2019

Oxford City Board Member for Healthy Oxford, Councillor Louise Upton and Oxfordshire County Council Leader, Councillor Ian Hudspeth, are today (12 Mar 19) meeting Transport Minister Jesse Norman MP.

They will be making the case for a big increase in Government investment in cycling infrastructure across the county. 

Joined by Kyle Grant, the founder of cycle-based laundry service Oxwash Ltd, the councillors will be highlighting how investment in a comprehensive cycling network in Oxfordshire could play a key role in helping to deliver the Government’s ambitions for housing and economic growth, while also delivering a range of social, environmental and health benefits.

Congestion and air pollution are significant issues in Oxford and many other towns across Oxfordshire, and if good growth is to be achieved, there is a need to shift more journeys to cycling, walking and public transport. For Oxford, this includes plans for investment in improved rapid transit routes for buses, traffic congestion management measures and a Zero Emissions Zone in the city centre.

Oxford is already a ‘cycling city’, with around 25 per cent of residents in the city cycling to work, second only to Cambridge in the UK, but the ambition is to double this. Local authorities are committing funds to cycling infrastructure:

  • As the Transport Authority, Oxfordshire County Council has an ongoing investment programme in cycling
  • Oxford City Council has invested £250,000 worth of improvements to the cycling network and identified another £250,000 over the next four years
  • The Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal includes £1.4m investment in improvements for cycling and walking

However, a report by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) said Government investment of £150 million was needed to improve the cycling network in and around the city.

The report Running out of Road, authored by the former London Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan, said Oxford’s roads and junctions are laid out almost entirely for the benefit of the motor vehicle and recommends the provision of segregated bike lanes on main roads, off-road routes and remodelled junctions to make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

There is cross party support for cycling and improved cycling infrastructure across all six Oxfordshire councils. In November 2018 Oxfordshire County Council unanimously passed a motion in to accelerate progress towards government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy ambition to double cycling by 2025. There is also strong support from local businesses and major employers, including the University.

Councillor Louise Upton, City Council Board Member for Healthy Oxford, said:

“Active travel is key to better health and wellbeing; it builds good levels of physical activity in to your day, it reduces the air pollution that causes around 30,000 deaths a year in the UK, and it’s cheap! But more cycling won’t just help benefit our health and the environment, it is also essential if we want to grow the economy without choking the county’s roads. The Gilligan report makes a very compelling case for cycling as essential for achieving cleaner growth in Oxfordshire. The investment needed is significant, but is not large when set against the value of Oxford and the county’s economy - given that we are one of only three regions that are net contributors to the UK economy.

“We want the government to help Oxford to be not just the UK’s number one cycling city, but another Amsterdam."

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re delighted to meet the Transport Minister to discuss the progress we’ve made in improving cycling provision in Oxford and the whole county in recent years - as well as to make the case for more investment to support the ambition we are setting out in our Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plans and the cycle projects we are developing.”