CYCLE campaigners are calling for Waitrose to fund improvements to a West Oxford cycle path if plans for the chain’s new store are approved.
The supermarket hopes to build on the former Halfords and MFI site in Botley Road in what will be a multi-million pound development that will bring 160 jobs.
Farmoor cyclist Ian Leggett, chairman of charity Bike Safe, fears an increase in the number of cyclists and pedestrians using the path and says the chain should provide section 106 money for improvements.
Section 106 cash is money given by developers to support the area’s infrastructure.
There were 41 accidents in Botley Road between 2008 and 2012 and it is used by an average of 1,548 cyclists every day.
In 2012, cycling charity Sustrans branded it one of the most dangerous in the UK for cyclists.
Mr Leggett, a 63-year-old self-employed consultant, said: “I cycle along there nearly every day and it is a very busy shared path. People walk from Botley into Oxford from the (Seacourt) park-and-ride.
“With the attraction of a big supermarket, there are likely to be more journeys on the path.
“Is the existing path fit for purpose? I don’t think it is.”
He suggested a widening of the shared path, as well as road crossing improvements.
Mr Leggett said: “For the safety of cyclists leaving the Waitrose supermarket, I would suggest a refuge be built near the exit to be wide enough for the full length of a bike.
“The current shared-use path might need to remain for shared use, rather than being separated.
“But the current layout, especially with reference to the numerous turnings into retail areas, needs to be made much better.”
He added: “I am saying if Waitrose is keen on supporting cycling and enabling cyclists to do their shopping, then they are going to have to put a bit of money for these people walking or cycling down Botley Road.”
Waitrose’s planning application attracted a total of 35 public comments, mostly in support of the new store.
Colin Hersom, of Hurst Rise Road, Botley, said: “There is a pavement cycle lane which does not give exiting drivers sufficient space to be able to see the traffic without blocking the cycle lane nor are entering drivers likely to give way to the cycle lane.”
He added: “One solution is to move the cycle lane further from the carriageway, sufficient for a car length between the carriageway and the cycle lane, with very clear signage for drivers to give way.”
Oxford City Council executive member for development member Colin Cook said he did not know the details of what Mr Leggett was proposing, but it would be difficult to insist on Waitrose funding extensive, expensive alterations.
He added: “With the section 106 money, any cycling scheme will have to compete against any number of other good schemes in the city for the funding.”