DOZENS of cyclists joined a campaigning ride on Saturday as they renewed calls for a dedicated path on the Eynsham to Botley road.

Around 50 cyclists took to the B4044 on Saturday, stepping up calls for a segregated path for bikes and pedestrians – repeating a similar ride that took place five-and-a-half years ago.

Ian Leggett of Bike Safe, who has been campaigning on the issue for more than a decade, said: “If we’re serious about improving people’s health, about helping people cycle more, rather than drive, we’ve got to invest in better infrastructure to encourage people to make that change.

“At the moment, the B4044 is a horrible road to cycle on. It’s narrow, it’s busy, it’s windy, there are buses, there are a lot of heavy lorries and over the years we’ve been campaigning literally hundreds of thousands of people have said to me ‘I’d love to cycle to Eynsham but I’m scared stiff of the road’.”

People were ‘quite right to be scared stiff’, he said. There had been 50 accidents in recent years, 20 of which involved a cyclist. In 2019, 58-year-old cyclist John Howes was killed after he was struck by a Vauxhall Combo van. The driver, Trevor Long, was later jailed for causing death by dangerous driving.

A bid for funding to complete the path was originally included as part of a £102m proposal to widen the A40 between Witney and Eynsham.

However, the request for funding to complete B4044 path was removed from the government cash bid, with the council claiming at the time that the whole bid may have failed if it had stayed in.

Mr Leggett said: “What message did that send? Everybody here feels completely betrayed by what happened.”

Oxfordshire County Council told the Oxford Mail that money from a £10.4m pot awarded in May would be used to develop plans for the B4044 path. As the Mail went to press, the council was unable to say how much had been earmarked for the path or give any timescales for when it might be built.

Speaking at the campaign ride’s conclusion, Jenny Hill, 33, said: “I would use it everyday, personally, to get into Oxford. The road feels really unsafe to cycle on. It is windy, has high hedges and poor visibility. I avoid it completely.”

Jonathan Marks, 60, of Eynsham Road Runners said a new path would ‘open up a walking and running route from Eynsham into Oxford’. He added: “At the moment, the only way is through Wytham Woods, where you need a permit.”

Prof John Guillebaud, who joined the ride on his folding Brompton bicycle, had come up with five ‘b’s to summarise his feelings about the B-road. It was busy, bumpy, the path plans had ‘been far too long’ in the making and was bizarre that the only safe way to the Hill End environmental centre was by car. He added: “It’s a beautiful road. Coming back towards Oxford you see Wytham Woods and along the verges you can see so many wildflowers.”

Read more from this author

This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email:

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward