Council welcomes calls for £150m Government investment in cycling improvements for Oxford

Published: Monday, 2nd July 2018

The City Council has welcomed the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC)’s call for Government to invest £150 million to improve cycling infrastructure in and around Oxford.

In a report focusing on investment in cycling improvements in Oxford, Cambridge, and Milton Keynes, the NIC said £200 million is needed to fund cycling improvements in the three cities, with three quarters of this recommended for Oxford alone.

The report notes that 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.

The NIC called on Government to spend £150 million on cycling improvements in the Oxford city region, subject to “concrete plans being drawn up to achieve peak-hour traffic reductions of 10-15 per cent within four years”. 

Some of the recommendations highlighted in the report include the following:

  • Segregated bike lanes
  • Junctions must be made safe.
  • Queen Street should be opened to cyclists.
  • “First mile” and “last mile” cycling must be promoted for people and goods.
  • More cycle parking should be provided.
  • Oxford should take meaningful traffic reduction measures.
  • Traffic reduction measures must form part of a wider package to benefit all users, and 
  • Money provided by government or raised by a congestion charge should be spent on the cycling improvements.

In Oxford, Oxfordshire County Council, as the transport authority, is responsible for upgrading and maintaining the majority of cycle tracks, on-road cycle facilities and the identification and creation of new cycle routes. 

The City Council encourages cycling in Oxford and has recently elevated it to a major policy portfolio on its City Executive Board. In July 2017, new signs proclaiming Oxford as a cycling city were installed on all 11 roads entering the city centre. The aim is to remind motorists to be more aware and respectful towards cyclists, and set a statement of intent for the city. The NIC’s report highlights that 25 per cent of all commuter journeys are made by bike within Oxford.

Under its ‘Park and Pedal’ initiative, the City Council recently installed 70 cycle parking spaces at Redbridge Park and Ride and 40 spaces at Seacourt Park and Ride to encourage ‘last mile’ and ‘first mile’ cycling by motorists using the city’s park and rides.

A study exploring options for city centre traffic and public realm improvements is also underway and will make recommendations concerning such possibilities as opening up some city centre streets to cyclists. In addition, the city and county councils are working together to look at proposals around traffic demand management and the possibility of introducing a congestion charge.

Councillor Louise Upton, Board Member for Healthy Oxford, said: “The City Council welcomes the NIC’s findings and recommendations and supports its call on the Government to invest £150 million to improve cycling in and around Oxford. Our city streets are creaking at the seams, and our air quality is poor. We need to reduce traffic and increase active travel. We are keen to pursue traffic reduction measures and we will consider the various options arising out of our ongoing work with the County Council.

“Reducing traffic will benefit people on bikes, on foot and on the bus but if we are serious about getting people out of their cars we have to improve Oxford’s roads and junctions to make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Many of the cycling and walking groups in the city who were consulted will welcome the conclusions of this report. The government’s Growth Deal funding for housing and infrastructure in Oxfordshire already gives us some resources towards the improvement of cycling infrastructure in and around Oxford, but we will need a lot more.”

To read the full report, go to the NIC's website.