Serious concerns over the safety of cyclists in Oxford have been raised by local election candidates in recent hustings.
Last Wednesday saw party candidates for Oxford East expressing the need for cyclists’ safety to be considered as a central concern during the General Elections hustings held in Oxford Town Hall’s Assembly Room.
Across parties, candidates made reference to issues surrounding student and local cyclists, with Liberal Democrat candidate Alastair Murray highlighting the fact that “adults are too scared to cycle” and Labour representative Tom Hayes (in place of candidate Rt Hon. Andrew Smith) noting that a major concern was individuals being deterred from cycling due to the “pretty shabby” level of investments in road and cycling facilities.
The issue of safety for cyclists was also addressed by Ann Duncan, Green Party candidate, who said that there had “been too many deaths and serious injuries among cyclists”, with 2013 data (the most recent available) 295 cyclist injuries in that year alone, over 50 of them classed as “severe”.
Ann Duncan affirmed that the issue remained a priority for the party, stating: “In Oxford, we have been working very hard in the Council to improve cycling safety. Nationally, the Green Party will spend about £30pa per capita on active transport – three times the current level — to fund separate cycle lanes, joined up routes, cycle hubs, training and other measures to make cycling safe and pleasant in the city. We would also require proper safety equipment in lorries”.
Speaking to The Oxford Student, Tom Hayes suggested various solutions to the pressing issue stating: ‘We need to provide more funding for cycling from the current transport budget to enable cities like Oxford to provide far better provision for bikes. Too many of the current cycle lanes are not sufficiently protected from the traffic, end abruptly or meander on and off the roads. We also need to get better at speedily tackling potholes that make cycling in Oxford dangerous and damage cars”.
The event was chaired by Dr Barbara Hammond, CEO of Oxford’s Low Carbon Hub, and was organised to specifically tackle environmental issues throughout the East Oxfordshire area (such as flooding, sustainable energy policy, air quality, pesticides and biodiversity and active transport).
For Oxford City Council, cycling remains a priority. Free cycle training is granted to children, whilst ‘The Broken Spoke Bike Co-Op’ provides training for adults to enable cyclists to understand the dangers of the road and how best to avoid them. More recently, capital funds were directed towards the the ‘Oxford Cycle City Initiative’. The four year scheme which began in 2012 and will be finalised in 2016 and was designed to improve cycling experiences for residents within the city. The £367,000 initiative has set about training inexperienced cyclists, instigated new signage in Headington and resurfaced the Meadow lane path. Meanwhile, Redbridge Park and Ride as well as Seacourt Park and ride, is due to be completed by summer 2015.