BICESTER has been named as one of three areas in Oxfordshire to benefit from a £2.98 million cash boost to get more people walking and cycling across the town.

The money, which will go towards emergency ‘active travel’ measures, was announced by the Government’s Department for Transport on Friday.

Witney and Oxford are also included in the plans, but for Bicester the fund will be focused on increasing cycle and walking journeys.

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Proposals include removing parking bays at a busy junction on Villiers Road and introducing new pedestrian and cycle paths along Middleton Stoney Road, Oxford Road and Kings End.

Councillor Andrew McHugh, Cherwell District Council's lead member for health and wellbeing said: “This extra funding is great news for Bicester. Encouraging active travel is a key priority for Bicester Garden Town, enabling new and existing neighbourhoods to feel more connected and reducing the reliance on cars to get about.

"The Healthy Bicester partnership has already delivered several successful schemes to encourage walking and cycling and this new funding can now add to these plans.”

The Bicester Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) sets out an ambitious target of doubling sustainable transport, at a minimum, from around 15,000 to 30,000 trips a day within the town.

This equates to a daily increase from around 3,000 to 9,000 bike trips a day and 18,000 to 24,000 walking trips a day, and is based on the delivery of a comprehensive network of cycle routes across the town by 2031.


A household survey showed that in Bicester, 50 per cent of local car trips were easily replaced by cycling and 25 per cent of car trips by walking.

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With this latest round of cash, better off-road pedestrian and cycle facilities will be built to connect the south and west of Bicester to the town centre and reductions in traffic speeds will create a safe and attractive environment for those who might have previously driven or taken the bus into town.

Mr McHugh added: “Creating a healthy, safe route from the south and west of Bicester into the town centre will not only increase connectivity but also reduce congestion and improve the air quality in the area.

"It also offers residents an opportunity to build exercise into their daily journeys, helping to boost their physical and mental wellbeing.”

Bicester Bike Users Group (BicesterBUG) says it is 'really pleased' the council secured the funding, but has concerns that cyclists have not been consulted about the proposals at an earlier stage.

Paul Troop from BicesterBUG said: "Government policy (Local Transport Note 1/20) requires bicycle users to be involved in the design at an early stage, and this has not happened. We have little idea what the plans involve.

"We are concerned that this oversight may again lead to impractical plans that provide little benefit to Bicester residents. We were not involved in the first round, which led to poor proposals and ultimately Oxfordshire failing to secure any funding from central government.

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"That time the county decided to make up the £600,000 shortfall itself, but this was mostly spent on painting bicycle emblems on busy roads, which does not enable cycling at this critical time."

Oxfordshire lost out on half of the first tranche of funding, receiving only £300,000, but the county council decided to pay for the other half of the schemes it had committed to from its own budget.

The latest project will involve full consultation to consider feedback from residents and stakeholders.