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Column 5th May 2021

Active cycling is not easy on our oxfordshire roads

“Active Travel” is defined by the Government as creating an environment which encourages physical activity as a normal part of everyday life.

I’ve attended two council meetings in the last few days where it’s been raised.

In both meetings it was used with reference to cycle ways.

It appears that this is the only thing that our local councils feel they do to encourage active travel.

It would help if there were plans to join up cycle ways but that seems to come into the “too difficult” category.

Once they have repaired the surface, we will have a new improved cycleway to Harwell which starts on Lark Hill in Wantage. Yet the only way to get to it is to cycle along roads through Wantage.

The Oxfordshire Cycling Design Standards state that where the average annual daily motor traffic flow exceeds 2,500, or where the road speed is higher than 40mph, infrastructure for cycle users should be provided.

There are definitely more than 2,500 cars on most through routes in OX12.

The standards suggest that where possible there should be separate cycle ways and that a segregated path for cycle users should be 3 metres or wider, with 2.5 metres as a minimum acceptable for short sections.

For walkers a minimum of 1.5 metre width is to be provided, with 2 metres preferred.

If this was provided on existing roads in OX12, there wouldn’t be any space left for cars.

Anyway these guidelines weren’t written when most of the new developments in OX12 were given outline planning permission. The requirement then was only for joint foot/cycle paths so that will generally be what is built now.

There is a cycle way along the A338 for about a mile between Wantage and Grove which has very good reviews but more and more accesses are getting cut across it so it will become harder to use.

Once again it stops at the edge of the town so after that it’s back to roads.

There is a new cycle way along Newlands Drive, (which seems to be narrower than specified so may need more work).

So when the current roadworks at the junction of Cane Lane and Denchworth Road are complete (estimated for September), it should be possible to cycle from the top of Newlands Drive in north Grove to St Mary’s Way on the Denchworth Road in west Wantage on cycle ways.

This is a start. Let’s hope for more to come.


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