Campaigners are vowing to break the cycle of poor cycle routes with a potential 366-mile link that could bring £112 million a year in health and journey time benefits and ‘remove the cost burden from health services’.
Oxfordshire Cycling Network (OCN) has launched its plan for a strategic cycle network and is seeking support for its scheme, which could see towns, workplaces and transport hubs linked with safe and direct cycle routes.
According to OCN, the 366-mile network would bring huge economic and health benefits to Oxfordshire people, whilst also cutting air pollution.
They added that people who cycle live longer, and as a result the route would remove a cost burden from the health services.
Robin Tucker, chair of OCN, said: “Our vision is that people of all abilities can choose to cycle anywhere, feeling safe and comfortable.”
Simon Hunt, chair of Cyclox, which promotes cycling in Oxfordshire, said: “All ages, all abilities. These are the four As of best-practice standards for cycling. The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark – and even Cambridge – have shown that this works. Now let’s bring similar 4A benefits to Oxfordshire.”
Another benefit to the scheme would be shorter journey times, which would reduce congestion on the roads.
Mr Tucker said: “Instead of stop-starting in traffic jams, fretting about where to park, I can bike the five miles from home to Abingdon more quickly and more predictably. Plus, I will have done my exercise for the day.”
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 motor vehicles, and would continue across junctions.
OCN calculates that increasing cycling to 10 per cent of journeys in the county compared to 3 per cent today is worth £112 million per year in health and journey time benefits.
The network might take 15 or 20 years to build and OCN’s first estimate of costs is £120 million.
The scheme comes after the rising wave of development and growth in the county, as potential routes need to be safeguarded, and a benefit for developer plans and future funding.
Now, OCN are trying to get further support on the scheme. Campaigners will meet outside County Hall in Oxford on April 22 to urge candidates to pledge their support.