Cyclox chairman SIMON HUNT has a vision for ‘Greater Oxford’

Cyclox is a small energetic advocacy group for cycling in Oxford and its immediate surrounding area — call it “Greater Oxford”. Note: “cycling”, not just “cyclists”, because our voice is also for the would-be cyclists who don’t do it at the moment.

Here’s our vision. However proficient or however novice you may be on a bike, you will sense you’re safe and well provided for by joined-up, top-notch infrastructure.

No more “End of Cycle Lane” notices! Everyone should feel happy to take to their bikes as often and as naturally as the Dutch or the Danes do, without feeling apprehensive.

There are dozens of good reasons why pedalling more adds up. Grown-ups benefit. Children benefit. Business benefits. Motor vehicle drivers benefit (yes!). Schools benefit. Shops benefit. Hospitals benefit. Communities and residential areas benefit. Air quality benefits. On a bike you feel good; you sense the go-anywhere freedom; you can stop and chat; it’s like travelling in an open convertible but you’re getting the exercise; your journey times are predictable (“the traffic was dreadful” is not an excuse a late cyclist can offer).

It’s a real plus for everyone that Oxford is already a cycling city. The more cyclists there are for whom pedalling comes as instinctively as breathing, the more new cyclists will join them.

Conditions for those who pedal in Greater Oxford are not bad, at least compared to the rest of this country. We have a mainly 20mph speed limit. Some sort of cycle provision, though of very variable quality, is available for roughly 90 per cent of Oxford’s dual cycle network, with fast “arterial” and quiet routes.

Almost 20 per cent of journeys to work in the city are by bike, and nearly a third of all adults in Oxford now use a bike at least once a week. Rates of cycling by Cherwell School pupils are admirable.

But there are negatives.

Too many barriers remain. Examples include Botley Road railway bridge; Cowley Road; much of the B4495 inner loop from Cherwell Drive through Headington and Cowley round to Donnington Bridge; the three northern roundabouts; routes to Islip, Eynsham, Blackbird Leys, the park-and-rides. One-way streets should allow cycle contraflows. These examples can be grim. People tell Cyclox that having to face a forbidding section — just one is enough — discourages them from making trips by bike at all. There should be no route that scares off novice adults or children, for instance, on their way to and from school.

Not all cyclists are as good neighbours as they should be, and there’s too much thoughtless and even law-breaking cycling. Cyclox will support effective promotions of a ‘thank-you culture’ by cyclists sharing communal space with others on the move.

Transport planners have successfully bitten big bullets in the past. Contemporary ideas about so-called shared space do feature on their present agenda. But they need to add community and personal well-being values to their engineering expertise.

Political resolve is absolutely vital to make anything happen. That in turn needs everyone to make their voice heard — mellifluous but insistent. Oxford was the second English city to introduce systematic 20mph in residential areas — bravo to the leader of the county council — but let’s see still more political determination.

With lots more strategically-connected steps, Greater Oxford can affordably become a bright cycling inspiration for the rest of Oxfordshire and the UK.

Together with our sustainable transport friends, Cyclox will shortly launch the “Cycletopia” manifesto showing how and why Oxford can shine brightly in future. Cycling or walking could be the ingrained natural habit for everyone’s everyday travel for short trips.

The question, as Cyclox sees it, is not ‘whether’, but ‘how soon?’.