TWO cycle lanes could be installed under Oxford’s Botley Road railway bridge to make it safer for people on two wheels.

But the £15,000 project would mean narrowing the width of the carriageway for drivers. The idea is one of 57 possibilities that Oxford City Council is looking into as part of its Cycle City scheme. Cyclists say plans to do something about the Botley Road rail bridge are long overdue, and the council has highlighted it as a “high-priority” scheme.

Botley Road is one of the busiest routes into and out of the city, and earlier this year it was branded an “accident blackspot” by cycling campaign group Sustrans. Richard Mann, of cycling campaign group Cyclox , said: “The main problem with the bridge is that there is no cycle lane going into town.

“There is room for a cycle lane just about if you move the central line across.

“The space coming out of town is a bit excessive and one of the problems is that people drive out of town too fast.

“This has been pretty much top of the list for the whole city for several years so it is long overdue.”

  • The Botley Road railway bridge is just outside Oxford station

According to the city council’s plan, improvements will be made to the “safety and usability” of the road under the bridge.

Its priority is to “improve space for cyclists on the approach to, and passing under, the bridge and on the approach to Frideswide Square”.

Colin Cook, the city council’s executive member for city development, said: “The county council has a proposal for putting two cycle lanes in there and reducing the width of the carriageway.

“There is certainly space for two cycle lanes under there.

“I cycle under that bridge two times a day so I know the problem that’s there.”

Money for the city council’s scheme will come from a number of different sources.

The council will be spending £100,000 from its capital budget in each of the first two years of the scheme followed by £50,000 in each of the following years.

It plans to spend £10,000 from its revenue budget in each of the four years of the scheme, with an additional £500,000 coming from so-called Section 106 money, paid to the authority by developers.

Cyclists and pedestrians had mixed views about the plans.

John Gardner, 46, a university professor, of Bridge Street, Oxford, said: "This is an absolute disaster area for cyclists. It is not safe enough to cycle through so we get off our bikes and stay on the other side."

Sarah Lidwell, 33, a business owner, of Barrett Street, Oxford, said: "I think it is a good idea. At the moment it is murderous to go under there but there isn’t really space for a cycle lane."

Lee Woodward, 30, a student adviser, from Abingdon, said: "It will be good for pedestrians. If you ever try to walk along there you have cyclists trying to get along there at the same time."