Cycle paths and routes across Oxfordshire are set to become greener and safer.
A charity is aiming to turn thousands of miles of paths into wildlife friendly ‘greenways’ and to improve routes for cyclists.
The charity Sustrans and the Oxfordshire Cycling Network (OCN) are working on separate projects to improve safety on cycling routes while also looking out for the wellbeing of people and nature.
Volunteers from Sustrans will be surveying the National Cycle Network across the south of England in order to improve routes to suit the nature and wildlife nearby through the ‘Greener Greenways’ project.
Some walking and cycling routes in Oxfordshire and Berkshire are due to benefit from the charity’s green approach, including the Phoenix Trail between Thame and Princes Risborough and the Hanson Way, which joins Didcot and Oxford.
James Cleeton, Sustrans’ Director for England South, said: “Our understanding of nature has improved hugely.
“We now know that wildlife uses corridors to find its way much in the same way that people use cycling and walking routes. So the National Cycle Network really is a perfect framework for a hands-on project that can benefit both people and nature.”
The Oxfordshire Cycling Network (OCN) also has a part to play in wider plans to improve cycling routes.
On Saturday, members of the OCN held a gathering outside County Hall to endorse their ‘Space for Cycling’ scheme, a 366-mile network that will run across the county.
OCN are seeking support for the scheme, which could see towns, workplaces and transport hubs linked with safe and direct cycle routes.
According to OCN, the project would bring huge economic and health benefits to Oxfordshire people, while also cutting air pollution.
Chair of the OCN, Robin Tucker, was delighted more than 200 people attended the meeting in Oxford.
He said: “If we can increase levels of walking and cycling, the benefits are substantial. For people, it means cheaper travel and better health.
“For businesses, it means increased productivity and increased footfall in shops. And for society as a whole it means lower congestion, better air quality, and vibrant, attractive places and communities.”
The new route would have smooth tarmac, would be at least three metres wide and separated from busy roads by a green verge. In town, cycle tracks would be separated from both pedestrians and vehicles, and would continue across junctions.
The network might take 15 or 20 years to build and OCN’s first estimate of costs is £120 million.