Bicester shares in million-pound plans to boost walking and cycling

Bicester has been named as one of three areas to benefit from a £2.98 million cash boost to improve active travel options and support local economic recovery over the coming months.

Published: Friday, 13th November 2020

Oxfordshire County Council‘s winning bid was announced on 13 November by the Department for Transport (DfT) and is the maximum award. Witney and Oxford are also included in the plans.

Councillor Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’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.”

Bicester will benefit from active travel investment backed by funding from the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) with a focus on increasing cycle journeys. 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. It is based on the development and delivery of a comprehensive network of cycle routes across the town by 2031, in tandem with development allocated within the local plan. A detailed 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.

The proposed scheme incorporates the eastern end of Middleton Stoney Road. This corridor scheme will capture flows from the expanding south and west of Bicester and provide connectivity into the town centre through the central corridor (Oxford Road/Kings End) and Causeway. The scheme will be complemented by off-road pedestrian and cycle facilities and reduced traffic speeds, creating a safe and attractive environment for those who might have previously driven or taken the bus into town.

Cllr McHugh continued: “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.”

The project will involve full consultation to consider feedback from residents and stakeholders and will account for a spectrum of views.

In total there are five schemes across Oxfordshire – three in Oxford, one in Bicester and one in Witney – designed to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians and create an environment that is safer for walking and cycling. Residents will also continue to benefit from reduced levels of air pollution.

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “The scale of this award recognises the ambition of our active travel plans and enables us to build on our existing commitment to accelerate our bold plans for transforming how people travel and how communities are connected.

“Active travel and climate action are at the heart of our plans. We have put forward schemes which will have the greatest impact in terms of air quality, physical activity and environmental benefit. These are projects which go to the heart of supporting healthy and vibrant communities.”