CYCLISTS using muddy and icy Oxford tracks are calling for bike routes to be gritted.

Campaigners in Marston want two cycle tracks, which connect the area to North Oxford and the city centre, to be treated when conditions are icy.

The Marston Ferry Road track and the University Parks cycle track are used by about 1,500 people every weekday. A petition has been set up to ask Oxfordshire County Council to carry out work.

Retired headteacher John Batey, of Horseman Close, is one of the 55 people who have signed up so far.

Mr Batey 76, said: “Sometimes it is just impassable in some places. It is terrible in the winter when the snow is on the ground.”

City councils in Cambridge and York grit cycle paths and have vehicles specifically for that purpose.

The campaigner are also highlighting that Oxford has the second highest rate of cycle usage in the UK – behind Cambridge – but the city’s cycleways are not treated.

Mr Batey also wants the council to lay down a permanent pedestrian and cycle track from Rippington Drive to Ferry Road.

He added: “It is dreadful. It is almost completely unusable by pedestrians and cyclists after rain – pools of water form every few metres across the whole track. Because the lane is well trodden it gets quite treacherous.

“I have taken it up with councillors several times in the past few years. We need to get some pressure on people to do this.”

The county council said it currently has no plans to alter gritting schedules.

Spokesman Paul Smith said: “The council grits all A-roads, B-roads and a number of minor roads that have bus routes.

“This amounts to 1,200 miles of road, many of which have cycle lanes – the equivalent of London to Iceland.

“We don’t currently have plans to revisit our gritting network but we always welcome observations and comments from residents.”

Campaigners say that the 2011 census shows that Marston has the highest rate of cycle commuting in the city, with up to 20.78 per cent cycling to work, compared to the national average of 1.9 per cent.

James Styring, chairman of Oxford cycling campaign group Cyclox said: “This is something which is on our radar. We are going to be chasing up this in the autumn.”

The petition is open for signatures until Thursday, March 14.