Oxford cyclists and pedestrians share their views on cycling safety

IN ONE month, two cyclists have died on Oxford’s roads.

At around 8am on February 8, a woman in her 40s was killed after a crash with a lorry outside Oxford Parkway Train Station. Read more here >>>

A week today, at around 2.30pm on March 1, Dr Ling Felce was cycling at The Plain Roundabout when she was killed after a crash with a tipper lorry. Read more here >>>

After her death, transport bosses demanded more needs to be done to keep cyclists safe on the streets.

Tom Hayes, Oxford City Council’s cabinet member for green transport said The Plain is a ‘dangerous cycling spot’.

Yesterday, we went into Oxford and spoke with both cyclists and pedestrians about cycling safety in the city.

We asked them two questions:

  1. Do you feel safe cycling in Oxford?
  2. What do you think could be done to make cycling safer?

This is what they said:

Ben Robinson, 30, from Kidlington

Ben Robinson

Ben said that he spends a “fair” amount of time thinking about cycling safety as he works in a bike shop and is a cyclist himself.

He said: “I have a lot of friends who are interested in getting into cycling for getting to work, usually their main concern with that is that they feel unsafe on Oxford’s roads.

“As a more experienced cyclist that is something I have learned to deal with myself but I do completely understand where less experienced cyclists are coming from with that. I definitely think there is a lot of room for improvement. ”

He noted that recent deaths have highlighted the improvements needed to Oxford’s cycling infrastructure. However, he adds it is “important” that cyclists maintain their “personal responsibility”.

He said: “There is a lot more room for improvement in terms of segregated cycle lanes. It would really be nice to see more of that put in place to encourage less experienced cyclists to get into it.

“I think that is going to be more and more important with fuel price increases and the on-going climate crisis. It definitely needs a more holistic approach to get more people using active transport, whether that is cycling or walking. ”

Lucy Ravenhill, 18, from Marston

Oxford Mail: Lucy RavenhillLucy Ravenhill

Lucy sees cycling safety in Oxford as “quite mixed”.

While she noted there are “some areas that are quite good” as they have cycle lanes on the pavements, there are other areas going out of the city center which need improvements.

She also called The Plain roundabout “terrifying”.

In order to improve safety in the city she believes there needs to be a campaign focused on the laws around cycling and what cyclist can and cannot do on the roads.

She added: “Having the cycle lanes integrated into the pavement I think would help a lot.”

Emily French, 19, from Marston

Oxford Mail: Emily French Emily French

Emily said: “The route we cycle is quite safe but I would not cycle it when it is dark because it is a back alleyway, so it is quite dark and I do not feel safe especially on my own.

“Cycling on the roads I do not enjoy because the lanes come and go you never really know where the cycle lane is. Is it on pavement? Is it on the road?

“All of the lines are worn away so you can not really tell anyway and cars get a bit ‘barge-y’ sometimes, they will get fed up you are there but it is also like we have to be, where else are we going to cycle? ”

Emily explained she would feel safer if clearer cycling routes were painted on the roads and there was more priority for cyclists and motorists did not get ‘race-y’ past people on bikes.

She said: “On a busy road if cars are whizzing past them, if someone is not a confident cyclist it might jitter them and they may fall off.

Brittany Maguire, 32, from Jericho

Oxford Mail: Brittany Maguire Brittany Maguire

As a pedestrian rather than a cyclist Brittany believes cycling routes are “well maintained” in Oxford in terms of “ability and access”.

She said: “Personally, if I wanted to cycle there is access and it is well maintained for people to be able to get around mobility wise.”

However, she did say that “improvements could definitely be made” but she is unsure whether it would be awareness or infrastructure changes which are needed more.

Nathan Goodwin, 32, from Marston

Oxford Mail: Nathan GoodwinNathan Goodwin

Overall, Nathan believes Oxford is safe to cycle in but feels the number of students who come from all over the world and do not fully understand the rules needs addressing. He proposed that the universities could provide a handbook to students informing them of the rules and regulations.

Nathan said: “Personally, [Oxford] is ok but obviously there are a few things that could be done through the council and stuff. ”

He believes these improvements include: “Pot holes, especially, and massively sorting out the roads in Oxford. Traffic lights in a few places, like The Plain. We should definitely have more done down there. Street lights as well down some dark alleyways and places like that. ”

Delia Persa, 19, from Cowley

Oxford Mail: Delia Persa Delia Persa

Delia noted that cycling on Cowley Road can get “really crowded and scary sometimes”.

She explained: “The road is not very wide and usually there are not any cycle paths so you end up really close to the parked cars.”

She feels it would be better if there were more cycle lanes around Cowley and drivers were more aware of cyclists.

Gabriel Blythe, 21, from Iffley

Oxford Mail: Gabriel BlytheGabriel Blythe

In Gabriel’s opinion, cycling in Oxford is generally “not too bad” and he feels safe a majority of the time.

He explained: “There are always drivers who drive too close or cut you up but it is also the responsibility of drivers to be sensible.”

On improving safety for cyclists, he said: “Definitely having dedicated cycle lanes or much wider cycle lanes.

“I like how on the high street they allow cyclists to go first which separates the traffic out.”

Andreas Gandener, 22, from Cowley

Oxford Mail: Andreas GandenerAndreas Gandener

Andreas said: “For the most part it is fine, there are certain areas where cycling is, in my opinion, dangerous, such as in the Botley area and the roundabout in St Clements.

“But to be honest in Oxford I think cycling is really safe.”

To make Oxford safer though, he believed dedicated cycle lanes and lines are important.

He said: “For as long as cars share the same roads with cyclists accidents are going to happen.”

Gonçalo Fernamdo, 30, from Botley

Oxford Mail: Gonçalo FernamdoGonçalo Fernamdo

Gonçalo says that while he has not had problems while cycling in Oxford he does not feel safe is the “best word for it”.

He said: “I think ideally it would be nice to have lanes just for cars and others just for cyclists. Also, if they are shared with cars they should be properly marked and maybe some type of structure that could separate [cyclists] from cars. ”

He added that he thinks it is a problem that traffic lights go green for both cyclists and cars at the same time. He feels a staggered structure, which other countries have, might be better.

Delia, 21, from Cowley

Oxford Mail: DeliaDelia

Delia uses High Street as her main cycling route and feels it is “quite dangerous” for cyclists.

She feels unsafe using that route because there are a number of buses that drive quite close.

Delia said: “I do not feel there is good infrastructure in that part, there other parts of the city that are better. The main route I take I am not a fan of. ”

She feels to improve safety more cycle lanes are needed and roundabouts could also be improved.

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